Innovator History

To Choose an Award Recipient, We Dig into the Builder's Approach to Machine Automation and Controls

Joe FeeleyBy Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief

We're in Year 5 of our annual Innovator Awards, and you'll meet this year's winner.

During these five years, we've honored 10 companies. That's not to say that many other achieving companies weren't nominated over the period. It's about making it through the evaluation process.

To choose an award recipient, we dig into the builder's approach to machine automation and controls. But we need at least one of their customers to tell us how that approach helped them achieve their own manufacturing goals.

We find seemingly very-worthy machine builders, but we can't close the deal because we can't validate those claims with complementary and complimentary testimonial from their customers. It's a harsh requirement, but it's consistent with our editorial obsession with user benefits.

It might be fun to briefly revisit the previous winners here, perhaps as incentive for you to strive for the prize in years to come.

2009: Control Logic, Hickory, N.C., met global influences on the North American lumber market and moved many manual-machine-dependent users to a PLC/PC scanner system that increased yield and speeds dramatically.
TGW-Ermanco, Spring Lake, Mich., used a PAC to improve scan times to 1-2 ms to up the speed and accuracy of its conveyor systems, allowing users to stay with lower-cost sortation systems.

2008: Graham Engineering, York, Pa., ran away from traditional blow-molded container wall-thickness control and via a soft PLC and NC control solution improved cycle time and temperature-profile control that reduced bottle waste, a critical factor in profitability.

2007: CRG Logistics of Green Bay, Wis., upgraded its PLC packaging-film production controls to enable a prime customer to successfully enter the more-complex cast-film-making market.

Rapid City, S.D.-based Accurpress showed customers producing stainless steel parts for aerospace how synchronized, PC-controlled servo hydraulics provide critical tight-tolerance fabrication accuracy.

HealthStar, Randolph, Mass., used electronic servos and mag meters to build an in-line filling machine that has the speed and accuracy of more costly rotary fillers.

2006: Sabel Engineering, Sonoma, Calif., developed a synchronized conveyor and robot picker with µs cycletimes to precisely handle a customer's delicate food products.

MarquipWardUnited, Madison, Wis., used a PC-based digital bus system with remote diagnostics that increased its customer's sheeting operations by nearly 40%.

Advanced Machine Automation of Birmingham, Ala., used a highly adaptive motion controller for hydraulically powered hole-drilling equipment that did the job of several individual machines.

Take a minute to see their accomplishments in detail at