For this multi-part series, Coupling Tips.com reached out to several coupling industry professionals to get their take on the year in couplings. Here, GAM Technical Marketing Manager, Mike Parzych looks back on 2016 and gives a few predictions for the new year.
Coupling Tips: What do you think was the biggest event in the industry this year and how did it affect your business?
Parzych: I don’t have exact numbers but several events that we went to this year seemed very well attended by exhibitors and visitors. Those events were IMTS, PackExpo, and FabTech. Our coupling and gearbox products are used in all of those industries (Machine Tool, Packaging, and Fabrication), so it was good to see the activity in those industries. While not in the coupling industry directly, the presidential election was a big event that had an impact on our business. In general, during election years, we have found that many customers tend to hold on or delay purchases until after the election. We have seen the same sentiment shared by many colleagues in the industry.
CT: What do you expect to see in 2017?
Parzych: Industry 4.0 and Iot will continue to be a hot topic of discussion for couplings. It remains to be seen if an when the need for that level of technology will be applied at a broad scale for servo coupling applications. At least for now and the near future, we feel that it will be generally more applicable for high performance/critical applications.
Where we see coupling technology going in 2017 and beyond, is in using different materials and configurations to provide solutions for a new range of applications and further improve productivity. For instance, we have leveraged our safety coupling technology and applied it in a different way on machine tool spindles to provide mechanical crash protection. The device uses high powered magnets to provide rigidity and precision during normal operation, but if a crash is encountered during machining, the magnets separate and disengage motion to protect sensitive spindle components from damage.
Another example would be our sectional rail coupling that is used to improve the coupling / decoupling of sectional rails in press automation. The coupling design allows for high clamping forces and dynamic stiffness while minimizing weight and clamping times during changeovers. With this technology, we have been able to successfully solve problems in existing press lines that experience extensive downtime with legacy products as well as new OEM applications.
So while these new technologies fit the functional definition of a coupling, they are quite different from the traditional concept of what they are used for and what GAM is known for.