SIEB & MEYER: From Start-up Think Tank to Technological Leader
Half a Century of Progress and Technical Innovation
In 50 years company history, SIEB & MEYER AG based in Lueneburg (Germany) blossomed from a micro enterprise into a globally operating technological leader for control and drive electronics. The gradual development of the company's innovative solutions also gives a fascinating insight into the technological progress over the last decades.
Hamburg in the year 1962: The electrical engineer Reinhard Sieb and the physicist Johannes Meyer have a vision – they want to be part of the rapid development of industrial electronics. Together they found the company SIEB & MEYER and begin developing customized electronic solutions in their workshop, for example a needle adjustment unit. A few years and many sleepless nights of puzzling later the two company founders have gathered a small development team and constructed the first products. Even then, the still small technology company focuses on special solutions for complex applications. This is appreciated by the customers – the company grows steadily and the present premises become too small. For this reason the company moves to new premises in 1967. The new address is in Lueneburg "Auf dem Schmaarkamp" – headquarters of SIEB & MEYER until today. 1970, however, the space becomes overcrowded again. A new building solves the problem.
The beginning: complex solutions for industrial automation
Shortly thereafter, SIEB & MEYER launches the first NC control that lays the foundation for a true success product. In addition, the company introduces the first static frequency converter for high-speed spindles as well as a DC servo amplifier. For the first time customers could purchase the complete control and drive technology from one source. Until today this concept has proven successful. From the technological aspect the company is in line with the trend anyway. The continuously advancing industrial automation is driven by direct current servo motors; servo amplifiers 'made in Lueneburg' are correspondingly in high demand. 1976 SIEB & MEYER introduces CNC 25.00 – the first computer-aided numerical control for PCB drilling machines.
During the 1980s brushless DC servo motors are on the rise. These devices use different measuring systems for speed feedback. Thanks to its robust performance and good resolution the resolver succeeds against incremental and Hall encoder as standard solution on the European market. At this time, the functionality of each servo amplifier and each frequency converter is based on analog circuit technology. Although this is a high-dynamic technology, it still has some weak points – "temperature drift", "integral non-linearity" and "parameter setting problems" are terms frequently heard in the workshop in Lueneburg. Each device is practically unique because of the extensive hardware setting. Initial operation, replacement and service are quite complex.
Continuous growth with successful in-house developed products
1983 SIEB & MEYER launches the first servo amplifiers with superior AC technology. The company grows steadily and focuses on flexibility to realize customized and application-oriented solutions. The headquarters in Lueneburg expand further: 1982 the administration moves into its own building, 1985 a new building for the PCB production is finished. Thanks to the high level of in-house production and industrial production processes, the drive technology specialists are now able to realize complete solutions – from the idea to the installation – in close cooperation with the customer.
In the early 1990s the evolution of drive technology enters the next phase. The first linear motors are in use. They pose new challenges for the servo amplifier technology due to the high control dynamics necessary. SIEB & MEYER is one of the pioneers in this field. Since the in-house development was acquainted with problems like finding the commutation position of a linear motor, it had already solved such problems. 1992 the Lueneburg based specialists launch a new servo amplifier that sets technical standards for competitors. In terms of control technology for linear motors this has not changed to this day. In the late '90s the company develops the series CNC-61, its first freely programmable single-axis CNC, and builds frequency converters with controlled output filter ensuring lowest motor heating on account of sinusoidal output currents and voltages.
Advanced software for new product concepts
At the beginning of the new millennium digitalization makes its way into the circuit technology. Initially, it is used reluctantly in parameter setting. But soon the rapid increase of the processing speed makes complete digital control structures possible. Digital communication via fieldbus and drive bus systems enters the world of the drive amplifiers. Continuously, new drive and control features are integrated – to the point of almost free parameterization of all available, digital values. Therefore, differences of the hardware become less important. One device may be used for different application areas and the formerly separate products servo amplifier and frequency converter merge into a common hardware platform. The software makes the difference: It adapts the device to the specific requirements and equips it for its future application. On account of the increasing computing capacity the world of drive technology can now operate different motor types and evaluate various measuring systems. Moreover, it enables drive amplifiers to execute complex control tasks up to complete motion control solutions. And that's not all: Meanwhile web server, database or safety function have become standard features.
Paving the way for Industry 4.0
From 2010 the keyword Industry 4.0 frequently comes up – the fourth industrial revolution. The goal: a smart factory with an intelligent, interconnected and efficient production process. Due to the rapidly increased demand in rationalization and automation for modern production machines and systems, the requirements for efficient servo amplifiers have also changed significantly. The trend is to integrate more and more functions.
SIEB & MEYER follows this trend and has developed SD3, a special solution for complex drive tasks such as high-dynamic positioning applications or tightening and press applications by servo motors. Beside an open system architecture that can accomplish almost all control, drive and visualizing tasks, SD3 users benefit from a wide range of additional services with high value added. The customer can use the open software architecture and the extensive function libraries to program application solutions for his core area by himself, e.g. in C/C+++ and thus protect his know-how. The support of an OPC UA-based communication provides the basis for Industry 4.0.
A classic reinvented
By the way, SD3 is a further development of the servo amplifier series CNC-61 from the 1990s – so things have come full circle. Another classic of the SIEB & MEYER product range is also still up to date: The development of CNC controls continues as well as their success story. The business unit "CNC Controls for PCB Processing", for instance, successfully presented the new CNC control generation CNC 95.00 at the trade fair HKPCA 2017 in China. Well-proven technology doesn't get old as quickly – especially when it keeps reinventing itself, as is the case at SIEB & MEYER.
What looks like grandpa´s hi-fi system is actually a SIEB & MEYER CNC of the first generation
A workplace in the test department in the 1980s: Test department at SIEB & MEYER today: modern, compact and efficient