What makes electric automation from Festo stand out? How do two experts on this technology from two continents explain it? Tom Worsnopp from Festo USA and Qiming Guo from Festo China discuss how easily different requirements for electric automation technology can be brought together under one roof with the automation platform from Festo.
Hello Mr Worsnopp and Mr Guo, and thanks for taking part in this interview. My first question is: What are the requirements in your markets?
Worsnopp: In the US we have a very advanced technological market that places very high demands on electric automation. In addition to having the right solutions, the role played by people should not be underestimated. It is very important to have experts with a high level of competence who are able to help customers find the best possible approach for their applications. This service also applies to the operation of the electric systems.
Guo: When I talk about our market, I think beyond the Chinese market. The requirements that are important in our country also apply to many other Asian countries. The majority of our manufacturing customers are looking for concepts with simpler functionalities, usually combined with pneumatics – of course at a good price and, if possible, from a single source. Designers are often concerned with not being too dependent on one technology.
So what should be taken into account when designing electric automation?
Guo: We need a clear system architecture with modular and/or decentralised remote IO, like CPX-AP offers. That way, connecting valve terminals in functional solutions is very easy. When designing the system, the design engineer decides whether this is done using modular remote IOs or decentralised on AP lines. These are the preferred solutions in our market today. But the wheels never stop turning here. We are gradually moving towards American standards.
Worsnopp: Yes, that's true! There are also many companies in the American market that use these types of concepts. But companies are increasingly relying on technology that reflects the latest trends. Big players as well as medium-sized businesses. On the one hand, the solutions should really have cutting-edge technology – not only in terms of functionality, but also in that they are easy to operate and can be easily networked in the system. And that's what we do at Festo – thanks to extensive development. For me, it's very important that we can manage this range of requirements with one automation platform, where everything fits together. Each application has its own mechanical, electrical and intelligent connectivity.
So how does it work?
Guo: It's simple! That is the key word. Simple products like the Simplified Motion Series, with simple functions and very easy operation. However, our customers also demand this simplicity in engineering: the solutions should be easy to configure, easy to order and easy to commission. Then our customers are satisfied.
Worsnopp: There is a lot of overlap and similarity between what our customers want. The products should be easy to operate for us too – across the entire value chain, from engineering to purchasing, commissioning and operation. Tools such as the Festo Automation Suite for commissioning or Electric Motion Sizing and the Handling Guide Online for designing electric components and systems are therefore very helpful.
What other requirements do customers have, for example when it comes to consultation, etc.?
Worsnopp: Expertise, worldwide service and accessibility, but individualised consultation on site or online are also key requirements – of course combined with a strong and consistent product range. I think it's no different for you in China, right?
Guo: Exactly. Production and a good supply chain on site are of course also important so that delivery of products is fast and reliable. For us, however, the price of the solution or the system also plays a role – competition is very tough.
Thank you for the interview!