For the last 15 years, Applimotion, a maker of direct drive motors and actuators for motion systems based in Loomis, Calif., had been a cross-country customer of MicroE, the Bedford, Mass.-based manufacturer of precision optical encoders. Both companies have histories of designing custom equipment for machinery OEMs in a variety of vertical markets, including semiconductor fabrication, medical, and electric vehicles. Last month, they announced a merger that will create a new company called Celera Motion.
The combined entity, which is owned by laser and photonics company GSI Group Corp., will develop component products and solutions for medical, advanced industrial, scientific, and microelectronics equipment manufacturers.
According to David Kosewski, product marketing manager for Celera Motion, part of the impetus behind the merger was the voice of common customers of Applimotion and MicroE. Together, they will be able to offer even greater levels of precision and customization to buyers seeking to solve application-specific challenges. Their common customers often were seeking special form factors or working with tight space constraints, so the low-profile nature of Applimotion motors and MicroE encoders and mounting options -- with incremental and absolute interfaces up to 1.2 nm -- fit well together.
"It's a good pairing, in that MicroE makes a kit-style encoder -- the customers buy the sensor head and the scale or grating as two separate components, and they integrate them into their machine's existing bearing structure," Kosewski told Design News. "Applimotion's business has been providing frameless motors, or kit motors, where the customer buys the rotor and the stator separately. By, integrating these components more directly into their machines rather than buying an already assembled piece, customers can eliminate redundancy such as bearings and housings," he said.
Celera Motion will continue to offer distinct Applimotion and MicroE product lines, including kit encoders and frameless motors. The merger, however, means that the organization can take its integrated assemblies business and build upon it by more tightly integrating the component pieces for customers, which Kosewski said could reduce both work and costs for buyers. In addition, although the two companies currently operate in similar markets, the merger could offer additional market accessibility to each of the brands, particularly from a geographic standpoint.
"For the Applimotion business, it will allow them to expand more outside North America," Kosewski told Design News. "We're already seeing some good inquiries from Europe. It won't change the competitive landscape immediately, but in conjunction with some other product developments we've got going on in our encoder product line, we believe we can capture more business."
Going forward, Applimotion will operate at two manufacturing locations; the encoder business will remain in Bedford, which will serve as Celera Motion's world headquarters. The motor integrated assemblies business will remain at Applimotion's headquarters in Loomis.
Kosewski said customer reaction has been "overwhelmingly positive." He noted, "Now we can offer more specific tailoring to their needs, and more precision. We can now supply more tightly integrated pieces, whereas previously, the customer would have had to do that work themselves."
Tracey Schelmetic graduated from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. and began her long career as a technology and science writer and editor at Appleton & Lange, the now-defunct medical publishing arm of Simon & Schuster. Later, as the editorial director of telecom trade journal Customer Interaction Solutions (today Customer magazine) she became a well-recognized voice in the contact center industry. Today, she is a freelance writer specializing in manufacturing and technology, telecommunications, and enterprise software.