Tap a motion expert

DN Staff

November 2, 1998

3 Min Read
Tap a motion expert

Novato, CA--If you need to solve a tough motion-control problem and encounter distributors that do little more than quote prices, take a look at a new group called AutomationSolutions International.

ASI--for short--is a growing partnership of high-tech distributors with more than 100 application engineers who not only recommend the whole range of motion control products to customers but also play a very active role in design.

"We view ourselves more as an extension of our customers' engineering departments than we do an extension of our suppliers' sales organizations," says ASI President Scott Johnson.

Because ASI distributors carry automation products from more than 170 manufacturers, Johnson notes that engineers can design motion control systems with components that are "the best of breed." These include: intelligent sensors, PLCs, industrial computers, motors, vision systems, man-machine interfaces, panel-building, safety devices, software, and mechanical components.

According to Johnson, it is difficult for even the giant manufacturers of automation products to offer leading-edge products in all the categories of motion control--simply because technology is moving so fast. In fact, argues Johnson, many small and medium-sized manufacturers set the pace for innovation in their technical niches. And ASI engineers often recommend the products of these companies in designing motion-control solutions for customers. To cite just a few ASI suppliers: Acroloop, Advanced Motion Control, Aerotech, Alpha, Anorad, Banner, Berkeley Process Control, IMC, Kollmorgen, Linear Drives, Oriental Motors, Ormec, Pacific Scientific, THK, STI, and Yaskawa.

Customers are divided about equally between end users and OEM design engineers, and applications serve industries such as aerospace, automotive, disk drives, paper processing, packaging, and semiconductor manufacturing.

Because of the increasing demands on their time, most designer engineers at customer companies simply cannot keep pace with all the changes in motion control technology, says Johnson. "They give us the performance characteristics that they want to see in a new or redesigned machine, and our engineers can handle the rest," he says. "That way, customers are free to concentrate on what they do best."

If Johnson's forecasts are true, ASI engineers are going to be very busy. He estimates that the demand for motion control products and services is growing at the rate of 12 to 15% a year. Behind this booming demand:

The decline of skilled industrial labor requires more factory automation.

  • Increasing quality standards demand higher precision and consistency in machine operation.

  • Faster time-to-market puts more focus on systems that eliminate machine down-time and boost throughput.

  • Just-in-time delivery and the rising need for customized products require flexible automation systems that can be easily reprogrammed and reconfigured.

  • Clean-room manufacturing is growing, leading to development of automation systems that reduce contamination and human interaction.

  • Smaller part sizes in the electronics demand sophisticated, precisely-controlled equipment.

To answer these challenges, ASI plans to add more engineers--and more distributors-- not just in North America, but overseas as well. To locate the ASI distributor nearest you, call: (800) 274-5080, or visit the ASI website (www.automationsolutions.com).

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