The gold standard for automation technology


Manufacturers’ Monthly gains insight into Beckhoff’s Solutions Provider Program, and discover how the initiative supports system integrators doing incredible work in the manufacturing world.

After success overseas, Beckhoff introduced its Solutions Provider Program (BSP) in Australia last year. Key to its business philosophy, Beckhoff isn’t restricted to a purely vendor-to-client setup, rather focusing on partnering with customers. The company’s solution providers share a verve for progress, something founder Hans Beckhoff has instilled into the organisation from top to bottom.

“Engineers must save the world,” Beckhoff said. “It is our task to develop products and automate production processes in such a way that they consume fewer raw materials and less energy than in the past. Every year, effectiveness and productivity must be increased to meet the worldwide desire for more prosperity in an ecologically sustainable way.”

Supriya Suhale, BSP coordinator, said innovation is the key to Beckhoff solving problems using its high-performance PC-based EtherCAT powered automation technology.

“We work with a lot of system integrators who are doing incredible work in the automation space and share our vision and philosophy,” she said. “They offer expert solutions in machine building, turnkey projects, programming, commissioning, and backup support to end users on a wide range of control solutions. They have extensive Beckhoff knowledge and are experts in their field.”

The program identifies these specialists, so Beckhoff can work with them in going that extra mile to support projects and customers who use Beckhoff products and technology. But what makes a Beckhoff expert?

Experts use Beckhoff’s technology to implement pioneering application solutions, with an extensive knowledge of the Beckhoff system and the underlying products and technologies. They can design, manufacture, install, program, commission and maintain a wide range of control solutions for all automation applications using Beckhoff hardware and other complementary technologies.

“We often have end users who come to us looking for someone who can support them with their projects,” Suhale explained. “They might want project support, someone to write a particular code, retrofit or upgrade a machine because they don’t have the required experience themselves. We can provide the link to these particular experts in different fields, whether it’s processing, manufacturing, food and beverage. It streamlines the process of providing the end user with the expertise they require.”

Companies in the BSP have exclusive access to members only information sessions, product updates and are informed up close. They also get early access to new hardware, priority demo equipment and on demand support in both sales and tech. Beckhoff believes cross-promotion can help grow industry towards its vision of continued innovation.

As a modular automation suite that has been successful for over 25 years, TwinCAT seamlessly combines standard control functions with additional functionalities such as robotics, machine vision and artificial intelligence.

“Companies will be featured on our social media platforms, websites, and media partner features to ensure maximum exposure,” she noted. “We have been promoting these expert partners on a smaller scale even before the inception of the Solution Provider Program. We get requests from end users who need varied levels of support. Some might be new to our platform and others might not have the expertise to support a machine that was made by an OEM. In all these cases our solution providers have offered their skills and service in solving these problems. Time and again we have recommended them to represent us and have had mutual success. Their locations and resources have proven very advantageous when remote support is needed.”

Beckhoff has partnerships with solution providers in every major city across Australia. Nonlinear Solutions, based in Western Australia, exemplifies the effectiveness of the program, offering out-of-the-box solutions for projects within a range of industries. The industrial automation, robotics, and engineering company catering to Industry 4.0 has applications across manufacturing, mining, oil and gas and defence.

Nonlinear Solutions partners with Beckhoff to build end-to end systems that incorporate future-proofed software and integration with IoT infrastructure. The company can facilitate design concepts, CAD modelling, fabrication, and rapid prototyping using large-scale 3D printers.

Utilising Beckhoff’s TwinCAT portfolio, Nonlinear Solutions can integrate real-time control for PC-based systems, benefiting from its advanced functionality and flexible runtime environment. Director Isaac Monteath explained that the concept for the company came out of working in the industry, and finding a lack of available solutions.

“It’s important to us that we work with a platform that we trust, and one that is flexible enough for us to deliver these kinds of out-of-the-box alternatives,” he said. “User experience and interface design are important, and Beckhoff is really leading the way by giving clients an intuitive product. We also benefit from being able to work closely with their excellent support team.”

Another stellar example of the BSP at work is AIE Global, undertaking projects such as a trigeneration power plant at the Melbourne Airport, robotic mango harvester and copper pipe bending machine.

Electrical engineer Gary Brown said there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution when it comes to Industry 4.0 concepts. Instead, from its Victorian headquarters, AIE Global has been implementing advanced methodology to promote Australian innovation through process control and automation systems since 1985.

“The more I investigated the Beckhoff product range, the more I liked what they offered,” he said. “EtherCAT I/O has allowed us to considerably reduce installation costs without any latency issues, and their CPU performance has meant that running out of memory is a thing of the past.” 

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