Carter Control Systems (CCS) specializes in 24-volt direct current conveyor and material handling equipment that saves energy costs as it expedites processing efficiencies. David Soyka reports on how this company is moving to expand into new markets with “green” integrated systems that save companies money in an environmentally responsible way.
These days, everyone is looking to roll out more energy efficient green technologies. In the case of Carter Control Systems (CCS), which has been building this equipment for 28 years, the green technology underlies the actual rollers.
CCS is unique in being a supplier of conveyor and material handling systems that use 24-volt direct current (DC) motors. “It’s a demand style in which the motors only work when they need to, as opposed to being constantly on as they are on traditional alternating current motors,” explains Russ Devilbiss, sales and marketing manager. “That results in about a two-thirds reduction of energy use over a conventional system.”
Founded in 1981 to engineer and manufacture electrical control boxes, CCS expanded to supply the U.S. Postal Service with controls and motorized conveyors for tray mail. It built on its initial success and seven patents on mail processing/material handling products to win government contracts to supply turnkey systems complete with custom and standard software and operating controls.
But with 90 percent of its business dependent on the post office, CCS’ new ownership and management realized it couldn’t always depend on the check coming in the mail. Aided by an investment from private equity firm Tulcan LP, CCS has expanded its market coverage to include commercial customers, as well as other government entities. Targeted industries include publishing, media, insurance, health care industries, credit cards, financial institutions, mail industries, retail/distribution, mining and utilities. The company sells both directly and through systems integrators, primarily in North America. “We are talking with companies in Europe and Australia,” Devilbiss says.
Headquartered in Frederick, Md. and employing 80, CCS maintains a 36,000-square-foot facility, of which half is dedicated to assembly operations.
“We’re a unique manufacturer in this segment as we maintain all the engineering, controls and software capabilities, project management and assembly/test in-house. We outsource fabrication and components. The systems that we assemble to our design satisfy customer specifications using standard products as well as custom engineered equipment,” Devilbiss notes. “CCS employs leading edge 3-D and simulation engineering and material handling technologies that conform to rigorous industry standards. The company’s design and engineering procedures are certified compliant with ISO 9001:2000 requirements and practices. The results are engineering solutions that meet and exceed customer requirements.”
PRE-ENGINEERED SOLUTIONS AND PRODUCTS
CCS products and controls are frequently integrated into other integrators’ systems, and therefore are available in easily installed, easily customizable modules in several standard sizes and widths. These pre-engineered solutions include:
- low cost tray sorters capable of processing items up to 70 pounds at a rate of 230 feet per minute (fpm);
- high-speed tray sorters driven by powered rollers used for feed, induction and recirculation capable of processing items up to 70 pounds at a rate of 230 fpm with a total of 95 possible runout lanes;
- print and apply systems that adhere to the appropriate surface or air delivery barcode labels onto the top of each item;
- scanning and weighing systems capable of reading various types of tags and barcodes, including two- and three-dimensional, and weighing items through the use of electromagnetic force compensation weighing technology.
In addition, CCS offers a range of standardized automation products that complement these pre-engineered solutions. These include:
- AutoSleeve™, which determines a mail tray’s size and applies the correspondingly correct corrugated sleeve;
- Automated Mailtray/Manifest Processing System (AMPS™), the most modern and widely accepted carrier destination allocation and labeling equipment in the industry;
- CarterRoll™ conveyor sections in a variety of straight, curved, merged and intersection configurations, and associated components to direct and control material handling and processing;
- Powered Spiral Conveyor™, which transports items from one level to the next in a space-saving spiral, providing the ability to accumulate along the entire spiral-carrying surface and allowing entrance and exit of the conveyor to be placed at any 90-degree angle.
CCS is a Hytrol alliance partner and a distributor of other manufacturers’ products, including HK Systems, FOX IV Technologies, EAM-Mosca Corporation and TGW-ERMANCO. CCS uses best-of-breed technology including scanning/imaging products from Accu-Sort Systems and Cognex.
CUSTOMIZED TURNKEY SYSTEMS
At the same time, CCS also offers complete turnkey systems ready for standalone operation. Yet another key competitive differentiator is that CCS will perform on-site time management studies to help determine a system design. “While customers frequently do come to us with a design they want, to which we might add some improvements or modifications, at times customers are looking for advice on how to best move materials, which we’re perfectly happy to do. We’re not just a product order-taker; we’re a partner in providing solutions that cost-effectively improve customer processes.”
On every installation, a CCS employee-site superintendent and/or project manager is onsite to direct and manage each installation in conjunction with local field labor at the installation site. “Our staff will ensure the installation process progresses smoothly and in a timely fashion and that modifications are made correctly and to ASME (American Standard for Mechanical Engineering) standards,” Devilbiss notes.
All equipment and services are warranted for one year for all parts and hardware. Because system downtime means delay and lost revenue, CCS offers 24/7 telephone support. Preventative maintenance contracts ensure highest possible operating efficiency of systems and components during their useful life. And CCS training, in both classroom and hands-on settings, enable customer-designated instructors to provide highly effective new operator and refresher training concerning general operation, maintenance and safety.
That would be a pretty attractive proposition. Currently, it is also economically challenging. “We are in the position of providing products that help companies economize while also improving productivity but at a time when companies are putting off capital investment until the economy improves.” When that happens, Devilbiss says CCS will be uniquely well-positioned. “We have continued to invest in product development and improvement, and more importantly, in our people. The company has an established and well-regarded track record in serving the needs of the postal service. That industry-leading reputation helps us expand into new markets. The energy efficiency of our 24-volt, DC motorized systems is equally crucial, however. These days, everyone is looking to deploy green technology wherever practical. It’s not only a good business decision – because it reduces the expenses of energy consumption – it’s good for the environment and corporate citizenship. I think that’s a combination marketing punch that no one else can put together. Whether we provide our equipment or third-party products as part of your system designs, or individual products to other system integrators, CCS offers the highest quality solutions at an exceptional value.”