Electrical switching & drive systems & components


Precise knowledge for precise applications

First Quarter 2024 Electrical switching & drive systems & components

Aerotech has been supplying standard product solutions such as motors, drives, controls and positioning tables since 1970. Customised motion subsystems include positioning systems on granite structures with undercarriage and vibration isolation, and also external measurement systems. The integrated systems are turnkey machines that have been developed together with the customer for the implementation of an automated process. These include not only precision components manufactured in-house for motion control, but also complete automation integration for parts handling, process instruments, safety elements and customised software.

Developing holistic processes

“Over the past few years, we have worked closely with customers from a wide range of industries, and have progressed further into the field of process automation,” says Simon Smith, European director at Aerotech. “When it comes to drive components and control elements in particular, the motion control experts now have a high level of vertical integration. Thanks to the accumulated application knowledge from the individual industrial sectors, the right components for the right use in the application can be recommended after a short time. The ideal solution is then developed together with the customer. As a manufacturer of automation systems, we support manufacturing companies holistically from the initial idea through to implementation. We therefore always ensure that our customers can automate their processes optimally with the precision motion systems we manufacture.”

Working together to find the best solution

Aerotech offers its customers the complete spectrum of integration options, from low- to high-integration motion components. This sets the motion control specialist apart from standard suppliers or traditional integrators. “Some customers want to build the machine themselves, while others are not entirely comfortable with this option,” says Smith. “We are flexible in our approach and work closely with our customers to find the best solution for their requirements. For example, if we develop a turnkey system for one of our customers, we see this as a partnership. The customer knows the application and understands the process for manufacturing the part. We are experts in correctly categorising the customer’s process, in order to build a machine that carries out this process with the highest accuracy and the highest possible throughput.”

Laser precise control of processes

The basis for this is Aerotech’s philosophy of vertical integration, which has matured over many years and makes it possible to be flexible, and at the same time guarantee quality and performance at all levels of the machine. Aerotech manufactures its own drives, motors, controls and positioning mechanics, so the experts know exactly how they work together and within a machine, and how they interact with each other and within a system. This enables the team to adapt and optimise a machine so that it produces the best possible output during operation.

For example, for a laser process in which the laser beam needs to be deflected as quickly and precisely as possible, the experts at Aerotech work out which axes are suitable for this, in combination with which galvo scanner. “We can then prepare this accordingly so that the customer ultimately only has to couple in their laser and control it,” explains Smith. “They may also use our control platform to control their lasers and complete their laser system immediately.”

Exactly what is needed

In addition, customised specifications can be incorporated into the subsystem that go far beyond Aerotech’s component level. For example, if the customer uses a control cabinet, the Aerotech control electronics can be flexibly integrated into it. Other elements, such as those required to control the laser when measuring parts, can also be installed in the control cabinet.

On the mechanical side, Aerotech also supplies partially integrated systems, which the customer only has to complete. If an adjustment system on granite is required for the machine, for example, the experts prepare this for the customer. The user can then integrate other additional applications such as laser beam guidance or sensor technology, as required. “These are tasks that we are faced with every day,” explains Smith. “The aim is to offer the customer a freely expandable solution that is ready for use as quickly as possible without much effort, and can also be adapted to future process requirements.”

However, the first step towards actual integration at Aerotech always begins with a detailed application consultation. Customers also learn that Aerotech control technology can be used to move far more than the six axes of a hexapod positioning system. If, for example, the laser needs to be triggered depending on the position of the hexapod and pulse-fire at a certain point, this can be realised using the Automation1 control platform. In this way, the entire process can be operated from a central control unit. Measurement processes can also be triggered via the Automation1 platform in such a way that measured values are also processed and stored via analogue inputs, so that the entire result is stored in a central control unit.

Smith concludes by emphasising: “Our entire business strategy is geared towards close cooperation and giving our customers a long-term competitive advantage in their respective market segments. That’s why we ask in advance what is to be achieved. In this way, we penetrate deeper into the actual application. We can offer customers a system where everything is already prepared, so that all they have to do is configure their machine.”

For more information contact Uwe Fischer, Aerotech, +44 1256 855 055, ufischer@aerotech.com, www.aerotech.com




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