Company Profile SL Controls
High-speed MedTech manufacturing facilities have a wide range of machines, equipment, software platforms, and systems. In most cases, however, these elements exist in silos, with little or no integration.
SL Controls provides essential integration and validation solutions to improve productivity on production lines and increase efficiencies in the entire manufacturing process.
In fact, given the progress of Industry 4.0 and factory automation technologies in recent years, SL Controls is also becoming increasingly involved in providing solutions that deliver efficiency and productivity gains through the entire product lifecycle as well as the manufacturing lifecycle.
Where It All Began
SL Controls’ two founders, Keith Moran and Shane Loughlin, met in 1998. Shane was working as a lecturer in electronic engineering at IT Sligo while on a sabbatical from the Sligo-based engineering and technical company Lotus Automation (now LotusWorks). Keith was a student on Shane’s course.
In 2000, Lotus Automation established a Systems Integration department. Both Shane and Keith joined the company, with Shane heading up the newly formed department.
During this period, Shane and Keith identified an opportunity in the marketplace to provide systems integration solutions. In 2002, both left Lotus Automation and formed SL Controls, moving into a modest 500 sq. ft. office in Ballintogher, County Sligo.
Very quickly the company won its first order with Hewlett Packard, with the first employees starting shortly after. Those employees are still with SL Controls today and are directors of their respective business units.
By 2005, SL Controls was growing steadily with orders from new customers and existing customers. It now had 20 employees and had purchased a new property in Collooney in County Sligo. The company moved into this 6,000 sq. ft. building, its current head office, in 2007 after the completion of building work.
Over the following years, SL Controls continued to grow. Its increasing client base led to the opening of new offices in Galway (2011), Limerick (2014), and Dublin (2015).
Keith Moran is now SL Controls Managing Director. He said the focus from the beginning was on providing integration and validation services to companies involved in high-speed manufacturing. This involved tech companies as well as the growing MedTech and pharmaceutical industries.
Keith said: “We were right there at the time when multinational companies were moving onto large greenfield sites, particularly in Dublin, to establish manufacturing facilities. We provided the integration and validation solutions to help them get established, and our company has grown from there.”
The services that SL Controls offers include:
- Equipment systems integration
- Validation and compliance services
- Factory automation
- Technical services and support for manufacturing facilities in regulated industries
“A lot of what we do centres on improving OEE – Overall Equipment Effectiveness,” said Keith. “In other words, we help MedTech and pharmaceutical manufacturers run the equipment on their production lines for longer while also reducing planned and unplanned downtime.
“We also give our clients enhanced oversight of their manufacturing facilities while helping them build in flexibility and adaptability. An example of the two latter points includes developing solutions that give clients mixed manufacturing capabilities.
“Crucially, we are vendor-neutral, so we’re not restricted in the systems, machines, or equipment we can work on. In addition, we don’t favour a particular vendor over another because of a business relationship we have with them. Instead, we focus on finding the right solution for our clients.
The SL Controls team includes project managers, control systems engineers, validation engineers, CSV engineers, mechanical engineers, and engineers who specialise in the emerging field of equipment systems engineering.
Keith said the company recognised early on the importance of finding the right people and then growing and nurturing them, so they can reach their full potential.
He said: “We are engineers, but our HR department is one of the most important units of our business. After all, our business is our people.
“An essential part of our success as a company was recognising this fact, leading us to continually work to strengthen our HR approach.
“The result of this is an excellent benefits package as well as initiatives and programmes focused on the wellbeing of our employees. This, alongside helping employees grow professionally, is important to me and to the entire management team.”
What the Future Holds
Not only has SL Controls enjoyed sustained growth over recent years, it’s also receiving recognition in the marketplace. It won best overall business at the 2018 Sligo Business Awards in addition to being on the shortlist at several other awards events.
SL Controls was also named in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50, a list of the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Ireland.
“2018 has been a busy year, but we always have a focus on the future at SL Controls,” said Keith. “We were instrumental in the launch of ECubers in January 2018, for example. It’s a not-for-profit organisation that promotes Equipment Systems Engineering and encourages young people as well as qualified engineers to consider it as a career.
“We’ve also started an expansion into the US, opening an office in Florida in July 2018.
“Plus, we have other plans on the horizon too – watch this space.”
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