Rocking the Globe – Atlas Technologies Remains Bigger, Better, Stronger

Atlas Technologies, a Division of Stonebridge Technical Enterprises, Ltd.
Written by Pauline Müller

For industrial pressroom automation to stand the test of time, the equipment must be as tough as the environments in which it operates. After more than half a century in industrial pressroom automation, Atlas Technologies has perfected the art of durability.

Specializing in sheet metal handling, metal forming, and fabrication processes, this rapidly-growing firm combines the knowledge of experience with the contagious energy of a modern innovator. From its base at 14165 Fenton Road, Fenton, Michigan, the company offers professionalism, technical competence and acute attention to detail to achieve quality and consistent results for its clients in the defense, aerospace, logistics, and other markets.

While its current clients are firmly rooted in North America and Argentina, the company’s tremendous global reach does its name justice with customers as far as the United Kingdom, China, Thailand, Europe, and farther afield. “Atlas is not resting. We continue to grow, innovate and improve. Atlas is here to stay!” President David K. Hense, P.E., says of this exciting new phase in the company’s history.

A division of Stonebridge Technical Enterprises, Ltd. since June 2020, Atlas technologies offers standard and custom design and fabrication of frontline material handling equipment to process materials like metal coils and sheets as well as to wash and lubricate such components. Other equipment also does press feeding, in-press processes, end-of-line packaging, and sophisticated quick die-changes complete with inductive power systems that make cables obsolete. Its trackless transport carts to haul dies weighing forty tons and over also feature state-of-the-art battery technology that revolutionizes ease of movement.

“Atlas is arguably the world leader in quick die-change technology [with] hundreds and hundreds of installations worldwide. Our heavy-duty equipment is built to last millions of cycles,” says Hense.

Customers benefit from its commitment to keep their facilities running optimally and much more. When prospective clients approach the team for equipment or service, three points of contact in the sales, parts, and service departments, an informative website, and an in-house technical team all come together to give them everything they need quickly and easily.

The company’s product portfolio also includes robotics, metal sheet stacking systems, and automated storage and retrieval of sheets, coils, and dies. It also offers a full tooling service as well as spare parts and international maintenance and field services. Its headquarters in Fenton also houses its engineering department, and it has a 30,000-square-foot plant on 1,100 Copper Avenue in the same town for fabrication, assembly, piping, wiring, tryout, testing and spare parts.

Its location is perfect for taking advantage of all the heavy-fabrication trades surrounding it in the Detroit area, so outsourcing services like machining and metal bending is simple.

Since its acquisition two years ago, Atlas Technologies has gone from a vertically integrated organization to being horizontally integrated. Following the changes, it enjoyed vigorous growth in revenue of 36 percent in the first year and another 19 percent in the second. Significant reinvestment across the company has permitted it to employ more people, increasing its capabilities and overall offering. The reinvestment includes new engineering software and enterprise resource planning software to allow for even better efficiency.

The mother company is known for being strategic in business, and while its projections reflect double-digit expansion percentages, it is rationally preparing for around 3 percent per annum while post-COVID markets recover. Stable financial backing and expandable credit add stability and longevity.

Further expanding its capacity for excellence also meant revisiting and revamping its roster of technical staff. As Stonebridge’s Technical Services division specializes in next-generation powertrain automation, Atlas now has a vast new resource from which to glean even more advanced engineering and skilled trades.

“Atlas hires the best and brightest engineers, technicians, and skilled trades. Getting better means that you become more efficient. You define the processes your company needs to bring innovative and durable products to market. Fiscal responsibility is the key to maintaining healthy supplier and business support channels,” Hense points out.

The company’s commitment to quality has stood the test of time, as a call from a client who bought equipment here thirty years ago recently confirmed. When asked whether the old equipment needed replacing, the client just laughed. Instead of replacing the old machines, they wanted to double their capacity by ordering another shipment of the same equipment as the old equipment was still shipshape.

This proves that built-in obsolescence is not an option in pressroom equipment. Smart fabricators demand the longest equipment lifespan possible, and they are prepared to pay for that.

David Hense has spent his life around metal, growing up in the automotive industry in Flint, Michigan. His education followed suit, giving him a solid base from which to take a deep dive into automation and realize his lifelong passion. “Automation is fun. It is [challenging], and if you ever think you know it all, just wait until the next day and you come to work. You will find out you don’t,” he says with a smile.

The company prides itself on deriving much of its production prowess from remaining agile and keeping its systems and output scalable. This, in turn, results in smart, lean systems. In practical terms, Atlas Technologies and the Stonebridge Technical Services divisions work with a combined workforce from a single fabrication footprint to optimize its potency and its bottom line during uncertain times.

The result is mutually beneficial with Atlas gaining access to the latest control technologies and Stonebridge access to new markets. “With a low overhead business philosophy, a solid backlog of engineering work, and the sharing of resources between the divisions of Stonebridge Technical Enterprises, Ltd., our Atlas Technologies division easily weathered the business fluctuations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hense says.

Atlas’ staff of around forty has years of expertise in the field, and Hense is especially excited about the new generation of staff who will take the company into the future. They “provide the brains to carry us smoothly into the future. I can honestly say that we have some of the best project managers, engineers, technicians, and skilled tradesmen in the industrial automation business,” he adds.

Atlas takes its people’s well-being and satisfaction as seriously as that of its clients, creating opportunities for staff to gather outside of the work environment to connect and foster meaningful relationships with one another. Familiar faces and warm friendships become a welcome constant that helps keep the team on track.

The approach works. Its staff turnover remains exceptionally low, making for healthy continuity and personal growth within the organization. This is not just talk, either. Hense mentions being quite touched by a text received from a team member not long ago thanking management for the opportunities the company provides.

With change being the eternal constant, Atlas Technologies views market shifts as trends to adapt to rather than harbingers of the apocalypse. Its current market projections focus on electric vehicles and the renewed vigor and innovation these are set to bring to the industry. Industrial pressroom automation has taken rather a battering over the past two decades. Things are, at last, looking up for those who stayed the course by opting to reinvest instead of moving into other areas of fabrication.

Atlas Technologies has a strong belief in bright futures, leading to its commitment to holistic and continuous improvement. “Of course, it includes product improvements and innovations that our customers will see, but every bit as important are the improvements that make our company better for our employees. After all, we spend a lot of time at our jobs. And our jobs should be something that we enjoy and something that provides personal satisfaction,” Hense says. The Atlas team has its eyes firmly focused on one global goal: to continue becoming even bigger, even better, and even stronger.

To find out more, visit Atlas Technologies at www.atlastechnologies.com.

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