Automation helps original equipment manufacturers innovate

Cover story: Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) show significant results for customers by applying modern automation to machine designs, reducing costs, improving throughput, and decreasing maintenance. Learn from three examples.


Automated distribution systems speed material handling using embedded PCs, human-machine interfaces, I/O modules, programming software, and industrial Ethernet networking. An automated material recovery system more than doubles recovery of key recyclables collected in the commercial buildings of New York City, compared to manual operations. And a controls retrofit boosts printing production for a packaging manufacturer, adding 10 years to machine lifespan, avoiding $70,000 in parts costs, and increasing output by 75%, among other benefits. Below are summaries of three case studies with links to the longer, online versions.

Automated distribution systems speed material handling 

United Sortation Solutions (USS) organizes automation into one consolidated platform for material handling applications. Advancements in embedded PCs, human machine interfaces, I/O modules, programming software, and industrial Ethernet networking help companies that need to package and ship goods nearly in real time, fueled by a growing demand from online shopping. [subhead]

Automated material recovery system more than doubles recovery of key recyclables 

Action Environmental Group, one of the largest solid waste and recycling providers for the five boroughs of New York City, used automation to help the group's recycling company, Action Environmental Solutions (AES), more than double separation of recyclable material collected the city's commercial buildings. The resulting piles of paper, plastic, and aluminum are bundled into large bales, which are then marketed to international buyers. Those bales are repurposed into shoes, water bottles, and new paper. 

Controls retrofit boosts printing production for packaging manufacturer

An industry supplier of flexible packaging—used by medical, pharmaceutical, consumer products, and food companies—recently began experiencing issues with the laminator component of one of its flexographic printing presses; new controls added an estimated 10 years to machine lifespan, avoided $70,000 in parts costs, and increased output by 75%, among other benefits.

These three articles, and introduction, are the cover story for the March 2015 print and digital edition for Control Engineering.

- Eric R. Eissler, Oil & Gas Engineering editor-in-chief,, and Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering,

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