«We create a link with our customers that goes far beyond a mere sales process»

Fagor Automation’s customers will soon be gathering at BIEMH’12, one of Europe’s most important Machine Tool sector trade fairs, which is being held for the 27th time. As at the 2010 Fair, expectations are somewhat conditioned by the current economic situation. Antón Sagasta, Fagor Automation’s CNC Systems Business Manager, talks about the main new developments and what the firm has presented at this year’s BIEMH.

What will this year’s Biennial be like, against the complex economic backdrop on the European market and in Spain particularly?

Unfortunately, we have to say that the situation in the country hasn’t improved at all since the last Trade Fair was held, after the dramatic drop in Machine Tool sales in 2009 on a world level. Although it’s not the best time right now for the Spanish market to invest in capital goods, the Machine Tool sector as a whole has made a great international expansion effort over the last few years, and exports now stand at around 80% of total sales. The Spanish exhibitors’ expectations are very much geared to foreign customers, who are looking for increasingly specialist solutions, as the more standard, seriesproduced machines are no longer manufactured here, with just a few exceptions.

Against this backdrop, what are Fagor Automation’s expectations at the Biennial?

We supply the complete drive, measuring and control system for the machines. And for many years now we’ve also been strategically positioned and with our own offices in the world’s top 12 machine producing and consuming countries, with the exception of Japan and Switzerland. As well as offering our increasingly sophisticated products and solutions, we are able to provide cover and support for the Spanish manufacturers in those countries, where over 90% of their exports go. That’s our general policy, for all Fagor customers. In addition to Spanish customers and end users interested in the latest developments, foreign visitors will also be attending the Fair, looking for increasingly specialist solutions that the machines made here can provide.

You were saying that your offer is more and more sophisticated. Could you specify on that?

As suppliers of the complete drive, measuring and control system for the machines, the fact that they require increasingly demanding features on all levels is leading us to constantly include cutting-edge technologies, both for the system components and the units as a whole. This means we need expert engineers in signal and power electronics, and engineers and physicists who are experts in automatics and who can use the best mathematical algorithms to control these large, complex machines, obtaining rapid movement with no jerking so that part finishing is quick and accurate without excessively stressing the machine mechanics. Optics, microelectronics and high-precision mechanics are essential for our precise measuring systems. At the same time we have to bear in mind that everything has to be controlled as one single unit, as if it was a huge orchestra. The machine environment can involve the work of robots, handlers, vision systems and auxiliary computers, controlling the intercommunication between all the elements with the necessary speed and reliability.

You’re talking about new developments in equipment, but what is it that really sets you apart from the competition?

As regards the total global offer, we are the 2nd largest manufacturer of feedback systems and the 5th largest manufacture of CNC systems, ranking just behind our Japanese and German competitors. The fact that we are based here in Spain is a major advantage for the national manufacturers and end users of the machines, for the proximity of our R&D, application technicians and service. I would also mention our firm strategic vocation for improving on what our competitors usually offer to the most common type of companies in this country, i.e. small or medium sized enterprises. We often include specific features that a manufacturer or end user may need for their applications. And then there’s the fact that we have our own offices in the destination countries for 90% of the exports, as I said before, and the backing and support we provide in those countries tends to be our other big differential advantage.

What are Fagor Automation’s shortand long-term goals?

Our priority goal is to offer our customers new products with better performance and features, and more global support as regards solutions, collaboration, safety and business opportunities in any part of the world. In short, we create a link with our customers that goes far beyond a mere sales process.