Maxkabakov/Dreamstime and Machine Design
Time to Market on digital background and Jake Gelinas

Reducing Time to Market Through Modular Motor Systems

June 1, 2023
By tackling lead times, a high-precision drive system manufacturer is able to serve a niche in the industrial automation market.

Offering advice on a viable motor solution is hardly an issue for Jake Gelinas.

As an inside sales engineer, and a resident expert on motors at maxon, Gelinas is ready to provide expertise and options for the queries he gets from design engineers. 

“We rely on the customer to tell us their requirements,” said Gelinas. “What’s your torque? What’s your speed? What’s your voltage? Those are the three key areas for us. And then we just tailor the solution from there.”

Barring that, the most pressing query from customers, according to Gelinas, is: “How long is this going to take?”

Gelinas, who attended Automate 2023 (May 22-25, 2023), said maxon acquired Parvalux in 2018 and is currently focusing on making the modular range accessible to the U.S. market. “Our goal with this product line is for rapid prototyping,” he said.

Over the past couple of years, supply chains have hit gridlock when trying to get products to customers on time. maxon, which is renowned for drive technology, is turning the challenge into an opportunity for creating a service tailored to customers, particularly design engineers, working on prototypes for development into final production.

The biggest bottleneck during the pandemic was getting motors and gearboxes within a reasonable lead time, and maxon therefore decided to stock products at its U.S. factory in Taunton, Mass. “We’re stocking motors, gearboxes, encoders, brakes…pretty much anything you need to get a project up and running,” Gelinas said. “The premise is not to have your final design right away, but just to get you up and testing.

“Our goal is to get to a 48-hour lead time,” he added. “We’re probably working on a one- to two-week lead time, which is still miles ahead of most of the competition.”

Modular Solution

What’s included in the modular package? “We have a few different gearboxes to choose from in the modular series,” said Gelinas. “Basically, three different ratios [15:1, 30:1 and 60:1], and we stock pretty much each size of motor that we offer in brushed or brushless DC. In some of them we offer three different voltages, which could be 12 volts, 24 volts or 48 volts.”

Current demand is focused on 24 volts and 48 volts. “That’s where a lot of people are operating right now,” he said. “And, especially if they’re battery operated systems, we’re seeing [the need for] higher voltage, which basically pulls lower amperage so that the battery lasts longer. We’re stocking the encoders, brakes and controllers as well, so we can sell you the whole package to get you up and running.”

Stopgap Measure

Even though maxon can tailor their solutions toward production or for the OEM, the modular range is not necessarily intended for the final design.

From a design standpoint, explained Gelinas, maxon’s unique proposition is the ability to create custom configurations. “From a production standpoint, we can make all sorts of customization to the customer’s needs, but what this specific platform is useful for is its lead time,” he explained.

The end goal is to have an online platform. In the meantime, he said, the company relies on person-to-person service via email or telephone.

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