Vision Systems Design's Editor in Chief, Chris Mc Loone, recently caught up with Daniel Seiler, CEO of AT - Automation, to talk about the company, it's products, and what keeps him awake at night.
CMcL: Give a brief history of AT – Automation Technology.
DS: The company was started almost 25 years ago by two engineers, originally as a systems integrator. In order to keep up with the increasing demands of AT customers in terms of system performance, our team began developing IR and 3D sensors inhouse. Originally, the intent was to use those only for our own systems. However, as is often the case with an innovative product, customers quickly started to ask to buy the sensors. As of six or seven years ago, selling 3D profile sensors and IR smart cameras has evolved into our main revenue driver, and we are now in the process of handing off all our systems business to other partners. Today, we consider AT one of the global market leaders in the field of imaging sensor technology for 3D and IR.
CMcL: Talk about your global operations.
DS: Well, we are a German SME with just over 50 people, so speaking of “global operations” doesn’t feel quite appropriate. That said, our customer base is very global and has been for the past two decades: More than half of our business is outside our home country. Our products and systems are shipped to many Asian countries, pretty much all of the EU, as well as North and South America. North America is currently our strategic focus for expansion, and we are in the process of opening an office in the United States.
CMcL: Talk about AT – Automation Technology’s products.
DS: We develop innovative IR and 3D sensors which are used in nearly every industry for metrology, process optimization, and quality control applications. Our aim is to develop products that are technologically cutting-edge and provide great value to the user through their innovative functionality and special performance. Every AT product is manufactured and produced according to high quality and technical standards in our inhouse clean room. The unique features of our AT sensors are their high precision combined with market-leading speed. We also came up with flexible and modular designs that allow the products to be adapted exactly to the requirements of the customer.
CMcL: Is there anything in the pipeline you can comment on that we should be watching for during 2023?
DS: Absolutely! We just launched a new product at VISION 2022 in Stuttgart that we are very proud of: Our engineers have worked for the past three years together with a partner on designing our first customized imager with on-chip processing. It is just now starting to become available and will be the fastest 3D profiling chip in the world. The C6-3070 series will feature a great variety of both triangulation sensors and cameras.
CMcL: What keeps you up at night?
DS: Luckily, I sleep quite well, unless one of my kids wakes me up 😉.
But if you are asking which concerns are on my mind, I would say it’s mostly the current situation of the global electronics supply chain. This has had a strong impact on our operations on the supply side this past year and could potentially also have a negative impact on the demand side. However, so far AT has been faring quite well due to “conservative” stock keeping and early redesigns. Overall, I am very positive about both the short-term future of our company as well as the coming years in this exciting automation industry.