Automation supplier wins inaugural Innovate Award


A look inside part of the custom automated test and package cell made by Holland-based automation supplier Koops. Photo via

Five West Michigan industrial technology companies vied to earn the first Innovate Award that was handed out during the inaugural Advanced Manufacturing Expo in Hudsonville.

On Aug. 13, automated machinery maker Koops in Holland received the recognition from the expo, or AME.

The expo and the award were presented for the first time as a way to highlight industrial technology innovation in West Michigan and encourage more companies and engineers in the region to innovate.

The winner was selected by a panel of engineers based on the technology, complexity of the application and outcome of a public vote, which drew 389 votes.

Innovate Award winner

Koops was recognized for its custom design and build of a fully automated machine that tests, sorts, labels, folds, bags and boxes Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT, systems.

The Koops machine handles multiple versions of the DVT systems, with an integrated array of custom-tooled machinery inside a controlled clean room enclosure.

Manually fed, the machine's several stages of coordinated tasks involve multiple robots, conveyors, 3-D vision systems and a six-station turntable fitted with integrated leak testers, among other components.

At capacity, the Koops machine can test, sort, label, fold, bag and box one DVT system every six seconds.

Jacob Straus, business development lead at Koops, noted the improved efficiency provided by the DVT machine and the opportunities provided to clients.

“The more we can align and integrate new technologies into processes like the DVT machine, the more efficient those processes become,” Straus said. “This allows our clients to use these technologies to expand their horizons."

Innovative region

Mark Ermatinger, VP at Industrial Control in Zeeland, said few people realize the level of innovation that occurs in West Michigan.

“We have one of the largest density of machine builders anywhere in North America, shipping innovative solutions around the world,” Ermatinger said.

“It’s not just machine builders that are pushing the envelope, manufacturers are also starting in-house machine-build groups or technology centers.”

Innovate Award nominees

Criterion Manufacturing in Comstock Park was nominated for its automated solution to produce and inspect flight-rated components for the AH-64 Apache Helicopter.

Byrne Electric in Rockford was nominated for its machine that allows a conveyor to receive plastic washers from an injection machine and feed them into a glass table inspection station, a process that previously required two to six workers sorting by hand.

Scherdel Sales & Technology in Muskegon was nominated for its spring inspection system.

Industrial Control was nominated for its yogurt inspection cup machine with 3-D vision system, which inspects the seals on 600 cups per minute, rejecting the cups that don’t meet quality standards.

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