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Creating interactions between machines

“The beauty of this job is that I take a dead piece of metal and then I do my thing and slowly all the parts of the machine start to move, all the components working together exactly the way I want them to.”

Thijs Nijpjes (37) has been with TMC and LAN Handling Systems since February. He studied Mechanical Engineering and later specialized in Industrial Automation. He worked mainly on the service side before he joined TMC and LAN Handling Systems. “Now I design the software that controls machines. The machine I’m working on at the moment is for the sterilization of pouches. Here at LAN Handling Systems we specialize in making the best handling and transporting solutions for packaged products for the Food and Pharmaceutical Industry. We can pretty much handle any type of product: glass, tin, aluminium, plastic, etc. We make custom-built machines and robots and ensure they work exactly the way the customer wants them to. These are industrial robots integrated into various food industry systems. I get a lot of pleasure from making these systems communicate with each other. And working at LAN is great – we have a brilliant team here. Making a machine work isn’t a one-man show, but the result of a group of people working together to get the best result.”

Right now, Thijs is working on a project to redesign the automation of a handling machine. “We are updating the software so the machine can communicate better with other machines in the factory. To do this, I start by creating a functional design to make clear what the machine needs to do. After that I write the software. When the machine is built and properly connected, we start to test if the software makes every button do what it is supposed to do. It’s the best feeling, when the software works in harmony with the machine and seems to breathe life into it.”
Thijs’ passion for Industrial Automation doesn’t stop when he leaves the office. “In my spare time recently, I worked together with some TMC colleagues on a project for SKF. We made a demonstration kit to promote their intelligent bearing. It’s a bearing that can determine by itself if it’s working correctly or not. The kit was able to demonstrate vibrations and changes in temperature. It’s great that these things are possible at TMC. That, together with things like the support and coaching you get, is what inspired me to work for TMC.”

Thinking about his future, Thijs would like to be one of the frontrunners in the field of Industrial Automation. “The future of Industrial Automation is Industrial Communication. Within the IT world, networks are of course well established, but in the field of Industrial Automation, networks are only just catching on. It is a very new area. Until now we’ve always worked with dedicated communication. In the future, every machine in a factory will be networked with Ethernet cables. Industrial Communication will be much cheaper and you’ll be able to create a much more stable system. I would very much like to be part of that development. It’s an exciting time to be working in this area.”

Photography: LAN Handling Systems

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