Turnkey Automation Solutions

Advanced Systems and Controls
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

For over 30 years, Advanced Systems and Controls (ASC) has led the way as one of America’s foremost developers of industrial assembly systems. A turnkey company, ASC’s automated solutions encompass everything from design to building, testing, robotic integration, installation, training, and more. Clients in sectors as diverse as automotive, aerospace, agriculture, construction, consumer goods, energy, and food and beverage know they can count on Macomb, Michigan-based ASC for the finest automated solutions on the market.

Advanced Systems and Controls was founded in 1990 by Andy Zundel, who ran the business until April 2018, when Jagmohan Kohli took over as President. Before ASC, Zundel worked at Precise Technology and Electronics (PT&E) with Kevin Pray. Both Zundel and Pray were designers/managers, and their interests were more in the custom test equipment part of the business, a small percentage of PT&E’s revenue.

After a few years and many discussions, the two left PT&E and created ASC, where Pray serves as Vice President.

A global client base
Based in Michigan’s ‘Automation Alley’—an area renowned for technology and innovation—ASC is well situated for access to a large talent pool and world-class suppliers of commercial and specialized services. The company is centrally located near major freeway systems for easier logistics.

ASC’s client base extends across the United States and other countries worldwide. Over the years, the company has done work in Mexico, Argentina, Austria, Uruguay, Thailand, the United Kingdom, China, Venezuela, and Brazil. Some of ASC’s clients include multinational CNH Industrial N.V., GKN Automotive, and Magna Powertrain. Some, like U.S.-based axle, driveshaft, and transmission supplier Dana Incorporated, have been local and international Advanced Systems and Controls customers since day one.

“We’re seeing an increase of robotic automation for assembly and welding and an increase in virtual commissioning and simulations prior to equipment build,” says Pray. Taking on projects for a large truck diesel engine manufacturer is seeing ASC making inroads into new applications. ASC has also recently worked for a combine manufacturer.

Tested and true
ASC operates with a full-time staff of 17, including mechanical designers, mechanical assemblers, machinists, electrical pipe and wire technicians, salespeople and estimators, and contractors as needed. Performing complete projects from design through assembly, test, and installation, the company typically comes on board after a facility and product are designed and ready for manufacture, but can get involved at any step of the process as needed.

Sometimes, clients are so comfortable with ASC’s work that they engage with the company very early on, even before they’ve defined their own processes. If a Tier 1 supplier is looking to get business from an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) such as Ford, GM, or Jaguar, they have defined the process they are going to use to make a product; occasionally, they engage with ASC to help them as well.

“Other companies prefer to have their process well-defined before they come to us and say, ‘This is how I want to assemble and build my product, help make the machines for us,’” says Kohli. “But for most projects, we do the machine-specific work itself, and do our own design through build and integration.”

In either case, all ASC automation, robotic welding, module assembly, press, and end-of-line systems created in the company’s 24,000-square-foot facility are meticulously designed, manufactured, and tested before shipment and installation. Frequently, customers bring components to ASC, and parts are made on the assembly line during validation. This ensures functionality, cycle time, and quality. Project managers are assigned to all projects, and the same team that builds the machine is responsible for installation and customer support to ensure continuity.

To build a single machine can take 16 weeks or longer. Depending on complexity and size, full assembly lines sometimes require a year from the start of design to manufacturing and shipping. Along with installing machines and assembly lines at client facilities, ASC provides valuable training while on-site.

“We will usually install it and stay for the start-up process at the customer’s facility,” says Kohli. “During the start-up process is when operator training usually happens, along with maintenance and any programming changes that may be needed.”

Skilled staff
Along with technical skills, ASC looks for particular qualities in the people it hires, especially the ability to work independently. The company tends not to micromanage its people, relying instead on their industry knowledge and giving them clear direction.

“That’s an important aspect, especially when you’re making a machine,” says Kohli. “You don’t want to find a design issue six months down the road, because then it becomes very difficult to solve. You need independent people who can work on their own while collaborating with a team.”

Promoting the business through word-of-mouth for years, Advanced Systems and Controls is actively seeking to diversify to meet customer demand. The company recently hired a marketing firm to help it break into new areas and meet manufacturers wanting turnkey automation solutions, including test systems and robotic integration.

Planning to grow through acquisition as well as organically, ASC currently has a company under a Letter of Intent (LOI). Says Kohli: “I would say we are looking at something complementary, not necessarily the same exact business segment. The one we have under LOI does a lot of prototype-building, fabrication, stamping, and so on.”

Along with growth, the business team at ASC is focused on diversification. An established automation industry leader, the company is investigating new industries and focusing much more on robotic automation. This includes an increased focus on—and making inroads into—the food and beverage sector, aerospace, and earth-moving equipment opportunities.

“From our perspective, it’s similar to what we do for the automotive sector,” says Kohli. “Advanced Systems and Controls is always looking for new opportunities to expand our knowledge base and offer our customers high-quality automation systems to suit their needs. We’ve begun expanding into new markets and we’ll continue to do so to grow our business.”



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