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Benshaw buys Aucom to create ‘world’s biggest soft-start firm’

06 January, 2020

The US motor control specialist Benshaw is buying the New Zealand based soft-start pioneer Aucom Electronics to create what it claims will be the world’s largest privately owned soft-starter manufacturer. The details of the transaction have not been released.

The combined organisation, with headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will offer a full range of motor control system and will be the leading supplier of low- and medium-voltage soft starters worldwide, according to Benshaw. Its global operations will include facilities in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, the Middle East and Asia.

Pete Morgan, former general manager of Aucom’s North American operation, has been appointed president of Benshaw with immediate effect. Before joining Aucom, Morgan was general manager of Benshaw’s OEM division.

“The integration of Benshaw and Aucom provides a bright future for the entire organisation,” says Benshaw’s executive chairman, Fran Livingston. “We believe the acquisition of Aucom provides an incredible opportunity that will benefit Benshaw and Aucom customers, our employees and our entire network of distributors across North America and around the world.”

AuCom was set up in 1978 to design and manufacture stereo amplifiers. Its name originates from the combination of “audio” and “communication”. The two founders – electronics design expert Mark Empson and his business partner Ray Archer – were brought together by a mutual interest in amateur radio and music.

Aucom's portfolio includes its EMX4i low-voltage soft-starts which offer the option of plugging in application-specific cards.

The company also became involved in designing power supplies for radio broadcast systems, taxi alarms, and energy-saving devices for single- and three-phase AC motors, which were produced under a license from the US space agency, Nasa. Over time, the electronic soft-starter business became the company’s main focus and it claims to have produced the world’s first range of commercially viable soft-starters. AuCom’s portfolio now includes a wide range of industrial electronics, motor control centres and switchgear.

In 2016, Aucom announced a “game-changing” range of low-voltage soft-starts with optional plug-in application-specific cards. For example, a smart card for pumping applications gives the soft-starts enhanced facilities and can deal with different causes of water hammer by providing a choice of ramp profiles for each type. It can help to prevent rapid changes in flow rate or direction, or water column separation and closure.

Privately owned Benshaw manufactures motor control systems for mission-critical industrial applications. It is part of the Unico Technologies Group, which also includes the drives and controls supplier, Unico Control Solutions.

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