The story of SYSCON International, Inc. is really the story of the remarkable career of Townsend Thomas, an electrical engineer, entrepreneur and visionary.
A Solid Background in Product Development
In the early 1960s, Mr. Thomas worked in the missile and space industries on projects that included radios for the F104, anti-tank and anti-ballistic missiles, and a wiring program for the Apollo project.
In the late1960s, Mr. Thomas was the Engineering Manager for the Power Electronics division of Louis Allis Co. where he helped develop many industrial control products, such as a variable speed pump for nuclear subs that took water coming out of the reactor and returned it to the feed tank. The focus of the successful engineering effort was to build a quiet pump and controller whose sound couldn’t be detected by sonar.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Thomas became the General Manager for Weltek, a division of Wells Electronics that manufactured radio frequency coils for transistor radios. While at Weltek, Mr. Thomas developed many hardware products, providing him with valuable experience in product design. When Weltek decided to sell its Weecoil division, Mr. Thomas purchased it in 1974 and “SYSCON International” was established in South Bend, Indiana.
The SYSCON International Umbrella
From the company’s inception, SYSCON International has been committed to the development of technology-based products for manufacturing environments. SYSCON, an acronym for system controls, focused on meter-based instruments and digital display systems. Mr. Thomas has created several divisions of SYSCON International, including MicroScreen®, Hot Metal Instrumentation and PlantStar.
MicroScreen® – In 1972, Mr. Thomas began designing and manufacturing stainless steel stencils for thick film printing on hybrid circuits. Two years later, the company expanded into the production of stencils for the printing of solder paste and adhesives onto PC boards used in surface-mount technology. Today, MicroScreen is an industry leader in the manufacture of screens and laser-cut, chemically etched and laser-chem stencils used by automotive, communications, military, medical, consumer and data processing industries. MicroScreen® is located in South Bend, Indiana.
Ajay SYSCON and Hot Metal Instrumentation – In the 1980s, SYSCON invested in the research to develop microprocessor-based control systems for molten metal analysis in the iron and steel industries. In 1984, a joint venture was established with an East Indian company to form Ajay SYSCON of Poona, India to market the molten metal analysis products throughout Asia. SYSCON International created the Hot Metal Instrumentation division as part of an alliance with Heraeus to design and build the Hot Metal Instrumentation computer-based analysis systems for molten metals in iron and steel industries in the United States.
In addition to its relationship with Heraeus, SYSCON International has developed other private label products. Working closely for many years with companies like Husky, Groupe Sidel and Allen-Bradley, SYSCON’s engineering talents have been used to develop special products for inclusion in their product lines.
SYSCON-RKC – SYSCON International formed a strategic alliance with RKC Instrument Co. of Japan in 1981. SYSCON-RKC provided instruments ranging from the most basic, discrete controls to advanced, programmable micro-processor based controllers, utilizing advanced self-tuning algorithms to suppress overshoot, startup and process upsets during production. These high-performance instruments were used by OEMs and end-users alike in the plastics, heat treating, packaging and semiconductor industries. In 2000, this division was spun off as a new corporation doing business as RKC Instrument.
PlantStar – Seeing the growth potential of electronics in factory automation, SYSCON International acquired the PlantStar FOCUS 100 Production Management System from ITP Boston, Inc. in 1976. Today, SYSCON-PlantStar is a recognized leader in the plastics processing industry for process and production management systems. SYSCON-PlantStar systems offer real-time information through computer networks, linking plant floor and management. SYSCON-PlantStar systems offer solutions that range from simple production monitoring and control systems to full-scale CIM networks with SPC/SQC and MIS integration with enterprise-wide software packages..
SYSCON Sensors – In 2015, the newest division of SYSCON International began manufacturing and distributing its digital molten metal temperature-measuring instruments to foundries and steel plants in the United States.
Advocate for The Internet of Machines
The advent of MT Focus opened a new chapter for SYSCON International. MT Focus connects machines through the universal language of the Internet so a manufacturer can “see” machine performance and make decisions based on accurate data, crucial alerts, current production information and preventative maintenance trends. Mr. Thomas continues to be on the cutting edge of technology for industrial applications and is a strong advocate for “The Internet of Machines,” sometimes called “The Industrial Internet.” The industrial Internet is a term coined by General Electric and it refers to the integration of complex physical machinery with networked sensors and software.