Orlando, Fla. — ACS Group looks forward to continuing on the journey with Industry 4.0, President Jim Holbrook said in an interview.
"A lot of new equipment is compatible," he said, but "both ends of the factory need to be smart."
ACS operates the AEC, Sterling and Cumberland auxiliary equipment brands supplying the plastics industry.
AEC focuses on material handling and process cooling equipment. Sterling deals primarily with temperature control systems and oil-circulating high temperature control systems. Cumberland provides size-reduction equipment, systems analysis and support.
Sensors can communicate, analytics are emerging, and molding machines need feedback on how to make it work, Holbrook said. "We need to work together to make it successful."
At NPE2018, Holbrook sensed above-average attendee interest in the good-better-best range of the business's temperature-control-unit products and the good-better offerings of pressure gauges with simplified options.
Also, the new T50 Series granulators attracted attention particularly for being easy to clean and having upgraded safety controls. The T50 line has precision-tolerance cutting chambers, an energy-saving Twin Shear-brand design and fixed rotating knives that permit adjustments at the bed knife.
Holbrook said the ACS brands added 14 new products over 18-24 months, requiring additional mechanical and electrical engineers.
"It is hard to find good people," he said.
An ACS facility in Suzhou, China, is manufacturing subassemblies for all of the business's product lines, including material conveying equipment, metering and blending devices, drying systems and hydraulic presses.
In 2015, ACS moved its group headquarters to New Berlin, Wis., from Schaumburg, Ill.