Alex Strokosch of Direct Automation Systems, uses Weintek HMIs with Teknokol enclosures and Productivity PLCs in application for a medical manufacturer.
The Teknokol system offers a solution that looks great, works, and has a really great price to performance ratio
Alex, tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m located in East Kilbride, just south of Glasgow. I started my career as industrial electrician before moving to Scotland in the early 1980s after a stint in the Merchant Navy, and I’ve worked in electrical engineering for 41 years. I had my own business from 1992 to 2001, then I worked for a while in account management; but I missed hands-on engineering, so when redundancy came along I started Direct Automation Systems in 2009, focussing on the Automation Direct drives – it was a niche market at the time, and I’ve built my business from there, specialising in special purpose one -off production machines designing all issues around Control & Automation solutions.
Sometimes you just need to pick up the phone and talk to someone about things when they don’t go smoothly
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I acquired an old motorhome a few years ago, we love to tour the Scottish Highlands and our beautiful coastline. I love classic cars, especially Triumph, although I don’t have one at the moment. I’m also a rugby fan.
How did you become a Lamonde customer?
I came across Lamonde in 1992 when I started Altec Automation, because I was always looking for alternatives to Siemens PLCs, ones that I didn’t have to jump through hoops for – I think the first one was a DirectLogic 205, and it was so easy to fit. I used it to control a tool changer on a machine tool. It was an urgent repair and the client was on a shoestring budget, and they needed the machine up and running in a hurry.
Since then I’ve embraced the Automation Direct and Weintek products that Lamonde offer. I particularly like the Weintek HMIs, as they are very capable of working with other technologies, e.g. Siemens or Rockwell, which makes them easy to integrate.
What is it we do that keeps you coming back to us for your automation purchasing?
Sometimes you just need to pick up the phone and talk to someone about things when they don’t go smoothly. It’s very rare these days to get straight through to someone with combined knowledge and experience, but Lamonde offer that.
Tell us about a recent application that we’ve helped you with.
We’re working with a medical manufacturer at the moment. They initially engaged with us for a 6-week project to put a Weintek display on to their existing machine. Two years down the line, and we’re now refurbishing all of their machines to accommodate a complete product change and increase in productivity, using the existing factory footprint. It’s involved significant changes in diagnostics, maintenance and functionality, utilising the Productivity1000 and Productivity2000 series PLCs, and the 12” and 7” Weintek HMIs, and it replaced a major competitor.
Now the customer has got used to the heightened functionality of the Weintek HMIs and they expect us to install them as standard. I’m still maintaining the KOYO systems, but most new machines are based on the new Productivity suite and EasyBuilder Pro, the installation is really straightforward and usually I only need a comms cable and a laptop to program them, so it’s simple to install.
I’ve embraced the all AD and Weintek products that Lamonde offer
You also used a Stride ethernet switch in this project – what made you choose that?
I’ve tried a different make but it’s failed three times; the Stride has a metal body, a 24V supply, it’s DIN rail mounted, reliable, and really robust in an industrial environment.
How have you used the Teknokol enclosure and support arm?
Finding suitable mountings has always an Achilles heel when we’ve finished installing a machine. We tried making our own and they never looked right. We’ve tried expensive suspension systems before, but although they looked right they weren’t right inside and the range wasn’t as wide. The Teknokol system offers a solution that looks great, works and has a really great price to performance ratio. We’re using 10 Teknokol support arms and HMI enclosures on this current job – all spec’d by Lamonde and they look great and really enhance the machine.
What feedback have you had from the client?
I’ve had clients tell me we have prolonged their machine life by 10 years by installing the Weintek and Productivity controls. Clients see that the equipment works and is reliable, so when they have to replace anything they want to stick with those brands.
Are you happy to recommend Lamonde? Yes, always, I have done many times and will continue to.