CHICAGO — Auxiliary equipment manufacturer Sterling Inc. has upgraded product offerings, hit an on-time shipment rate of 93 percent over 18 months and anticipates more industry use of automated robots.
``We feel we are positioning ourselves for the market of the next three to five years,'' Roger L. Lange, vice president and general manager, said in an interview at NPE 1997, held June 16-20 in Chicago.
Sterling employs 160, up from 153 at year-end, and is based in a 67,000-square-foot facility in Milwaukee.
In the past year, Sterling invested $126,000 in Pro E software for upgrading equipment. Those upgrades include a controller with fuzzy logic, a more complete line of granulators, a water jacketed pump, new temperature controllers and a SDS robot, Lange said.
Last year, Sterling launched a product performance program, identifying new or upgraded lines with the ``Vision'' logo. Vision now appears on half of Sterling's product line, he said.
Robotics are ``becoming a more important part of the market,'' Lange said. ``Twenty percent of U.S. molding machines have robots, but 80 percent do not.''
Lange envisions simpler robots that are ``more user friendly and have better memory.''
Sterling expects 1997 sales to increase 14 percent over last year's figure. And, according to Lange, ``We are exceeding the target to date.''
Automotive, high-technology and pharmaceutical markets have led the upturn in the past nine months, he added.
Sterling manufactures equipment in conjunction with other Harbour Group plastics processing equipment units, particularly AEC Inc.
Sterling makes temperature controllers and portable chillers in Milwaukee; cooling towers, automation systems and central coolers in Wood Dale, Ill.; and granulators in North Uxbridge, Mass.