Vital products nestled away in machines worldwide

John Watts said Auto Control Systems works in several sectors including transport and mining.

Products that run smoothly in the background often go unnoticed when they actually play a large role in the running of machines. One company explains why they choose ifm’s products, which work away silently in facilities worldwide.

Auto Control Systems (ACS) works on machinery that is used all over the world. Be it on mining sites, food and beverage manufacturing facilities or in trucks, the automation solutions company needs reliable products to deliver the best results for its customers.

ACS general manager, John Watts, said having a trusted partner that provides consistent sensors, cameras, and more, is key in keeping ACS customers content while growing its business in all sectors.

“ifm is always contactable and reliable. Their products are some of the most robust in the market,” he said.

Having a diverse range of jobs, the Perth-based facility needs to get its hand on a variety of products to help build systems that suit individual customer needs.

“We make not just one-off things, we make sometimes 20 things in a row.

“If you use a new company’s products and it’s having problems, then the problem is you’ve got another 20 machines that need to be made. Or, the worst thing is if you find out that after six months they are all having faults and the machines have been shipped to all parts of the world and you can’t easily chase it,” said Watts.

Reaching beyond Australian shores

Both ACS and ifm work internationally and nationally. ifm has offices in more than 70 countries worldwide, which benefits ACS as the company regularly works on products for overseas clients.

“One of the reasons we use ifm is because our products go all around the world. If one of our customers is having a hard time, they can quickly go to any local ifm branch around the world and get their parts,” said Watts.

But, customers often won’t go to their nearest branch when there is a problem, because as Watts said, there simply aren’t problems associated with ifm products.

“Our customers know we’ve got quality products and it guarantees our machinery does work.

He said sometimes companies don’t even know their machinery has ifm products in it as they’ve never had to replace it.

“The reason they don’t know the ifm gear is in there is because it hasn’t broken down.

“If you’ve got a bad system or component that’s always breaking down, they really get to know that component and get to not like it. But, if it’s in the machine dormant underneath, and there’s no problem for 10 years, they are not going to know it,” said Watts.

“We’ve had it before where machinery up north in the Pilbara hits the summer and other products get too hot and just shut down. We’ve had older machines that did that, where we’ve replaced it with ifm products and it just powers through. We didn’t get that problem again,” he said.

In cases where the parts do need to be replaced or upgraded immediately, ACS is able to provide ifm’s Western Australian customers with products as it stocks some of ifm’s range on its behalf. ACS is also the only certified ifm system integrator in Australia.

“We keep critical spare stock here. We can get it out the door on the same day. That keeps the ifm customers happier now that they’ve got someone on the west coast to help them out. Whether its parts, support, technicians or engineers we can help them,” said Watts.

Ethan Ballantyne from Auto Control Systems works with ifm products.

Keeping downtime to a minimum

By keeping ifm stock at its Welshpool facility, ACS ensures its customers and ifm’s customers don’t lose out on valuable production time.

“When a machine shuts down you get upset customers. Sometimes it’s not actually the cost of the machine. It can cost millions per day if that machine is not producing what it should be,” said Watts.

“Some of our machines load the explosives in the blast hole. The old saying in the mining industry is, if you don’t drill you don’t blast, you don’t dig you don’t mine, you don’t make money. If you don’t blast for a day or two, that means every machine in the mine site starts shutting down. If you’re not blasting, you’ve got nothing to dig up, nothing to process, nothing to put on the train to send out to the boats.

“A mine site shutting down can cost a million-to-two-million-dollars a day. It’s the cost of the downtime for the whole mine site that is the issue,” he said.

Similarly, in sectors such as food manufacturing, downtime can mean products are not only unable to be packed. But the longer fresh produce, for example, stays in the production centre, the less fresh it is when it reaches the supplier.

With time being of essence in all manufacturing facilities, mining sites and other sectors, ACS and ifm integrate the most efficient products and services into a machine to suit that company’s needs.

The touch of orange found on ifm products has been tucked away in the work ACS does for 10 years and it is likely to continue making an appearance for years to come, as the companies work to grow key industries in Australia.