Making Manufacturing Easier

NCC Automated Systems
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

In its almost thirty years in the industry, NCC Automated Systems has earned a worldwide reputation for professionalism, quality, attention to detail, and unsurpassed customer service. It has earned the accolades of highly respected companies like PepsiCo, Bestfoods Canada, Winpak, Unilever, Pilsbury, and Dole, among others.
NCC Automated Systems prides itself on its superior services and knowledge that comes from being in the business for almost three decades. “NCC’s primary business is food integration,” says Chris Round, director of marketing at NCC Automated Systems.

As the biggest chocolate manufacturer in North America, the iconic U.S.-based company knows it can count on the expertise from the team at NCC when it comes to establishing new production facilities.

NCC is involved in the process from the moment a chocolate bar is created until it is palletized for shipping and put on a truck, it designs pre-engineered capital equipment including mechanical components and controls, and it performs engineering, project management, assembly, and installation.

“We do all that for our clients,” states Round. “We do all the conveyance, all the controls, all the packaging, all the wrapping, all the engineering, everything – until it’s been in operation for a couple of months. We make sure everything is running smoothly, and then we pull out… So that’s our primary business.”

NCC Automated Systems began in 1986 as a specialty conveyor manufacturer and originally served areas in and around Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.

The company experienced rapid growth and soon expanded its operations nationally, emerging as a respected supplier of high-quality, custom conveying equipment. To date, the company has done business with seventy-eight percent of Fortune 500 companies and provides state-of-the-art, full-service automation systems.

NCC works with clients involved in a range of industries including food, packaging, and optical automation, to provide the finest complete systems available.

Over the years, NCC has strategically aligned itself with a number of award-winning manufacturers of pre-engineered conveying equipment. These have includes such respected companies as Bosch for its VarioFlow product line, as well as Arrowhead, Ermanco, Dorner Manufacturing, and Omni Conveyors.

NCC is focused on providing manufacturers with completely integrated systems. The company has grown into a well-known supplier of complete integrated packaging lines including pre-engineered conveyors, devices, and control panels. It has also expanded into areas such as optical and solar.

Round estimates that the company is comprised about sixty-five to seventy percent engineers with specialties in a variety of disciplines. “We are very project engineer, controls engineer, and mechanical engineer heavy,” he says. The remainder of the full-time staff of approximately sixty people is made up of engineering managers, production managers, directors, installers, salespeople, a controller, and other office staff.

The company manufactures a range of turnkey systems which, to ensure quality, are built and tested at NCC Automated Systems’ advanced facility in Souderton, a borough in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. “What we’ll do is build up a system in our shop,” says Round.

To make life easier for its many clients and keep client businesses productive and growing, “If it needs to be disassembled somewhat so it can be shipped properly, we do that for our clients.”

Through the use of SolidWorks and other 3D solid modeling computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) software programs, NCC is able to provide customers with custom-made designs before their system is created.

The company follows its time-tested, proven methodology to ensure success with each and every project. Any potential obstacles are confronted in advance to mitigate risk and ensure timely, professional project delivery.

From the beginning meticulous pre-planning is done and careful attention paid to such areas as costs, schedule, defining milestone dates, and end date and project acceptance testing (PAT) schedule. Numerous areas, including owner participation, executing efficiency-use technology, testing before shipping, controlled installation and commissioning, comprehensive training and documentation, and final acceptance, and also precisely incorporated into the methodology.

Integral to the entire process is ongoing support after completion. NCC provides a range of services after conveyor equipment is installed. It performs everything from service calls when needed to follow-up calls and emails, documentation updates, scheduled preventive maintenance and in-person visits to customer sites. To date, much of the company’s repeat and new business has been the result of word of mouth from these satisfied customers.

NCC Automated Systems staff are professional, personable, informed and pride themselves on their abilities to recognize customer need. “Our business has grown because of our good projects and the people we have on staff,” says Round.

Much of NCC’s success has come from hiring the right staff – who Round refers to as A-players – and growing at a scalable pace. If NCC grows too fast, the company will not be able to train them properly to be A-players. As a result, growth is consistent, but slow enough so the company can work on its mentoring programs.

“If we have five guys on a project, we have to make sure we are taking four A-players and a newbie to learn,” he says. “Newbies turned into A-players, and then we can slowly allow them to grow and go out on their own. In this way, NCC is growing, and clients are getting our best foot forward all the time.”

NCC Automated Systems created a separate company about two years ago called Glide-Line™ after recognizing a need in the marketplace. NCC backed Glide-Line represents the company’s first foray into the assembly automation industry.

“NCC performs engineering tasks, pulls equipment together and has a reputation for doing a great job, but that’s not actually a product,” says Round. “Glide-Line actually is a product, and I had the experience in the robotics and automation industries for a product to take to those markets, and that’s why I was hired.”

“While not an integrator in the assembly market, we needed a small amount of twin-strand conveyor, and we often found ourselves unsatisfied with what the market had to offer – disappointed by long lead times, poor customer service, inflexible designs and rising costs,” says the company.

The company created Glide-Line from scratch with a number of key considerations in mind. In addition to being reliable and robust, systems had to be simple to operate, easy to maintain and service and be flexible to configure. The result is modular design conveyors and systems that can be constructed and shipped directly to customers in just days, not weeks.

Glide-Line uses IMPACT – Interactive Modeling Program and Application Configuration Tools. Its automated configuration system generates complete assembly information packages which are then professionally assembled. This, according to the company, “represents the next generation in the conveyor design and fabrication process.”

NCC Automated Systems has experienced steady twenty percent growth for a number of years. “By no means is it marketing-related,” says Director of Marketing Chris Round. He says the company’s growth comes not only from the quality of NCC and Glide-Line’s conveyor systems and service, but its dedicated employees.

“We’ve got such a good staff, and they really do a great job. And at the end of the day, we want to make sure that our customers have the best opportunity to know who we are, and make sure that they know that we have their best interests in mind. And that is huge for us.”



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