Control Techniques Celebrating 50 Years of Innovative Drive Technology
January 18, 2023
It all began in 1973…
…when, in a rapidly emerging drives market, three men felt that the company they worked for wasn’t evolving or innovating fast enough and decided to do something about it. KTK, named after its three founders, was born. The trio, Ken Briggs, Trevor Wheatley and Kevin Curran, established their own drives manufacturing company in the heart of Mid Wales.
Mid Wales may seem like an odd choice of location for an electrical engineering business, but Newtown in Powys, at that time, was actively encouraging businesses into the area, premises were readily available and the support they were offered was invaluable to a small start-up business. It seems it was the right choice; the company has expanded many times over 50 years, but Control Techniques remains rooted in the heart of the Mid Wales countryside.
KTK’s vision was to provide a new innovative drive that would meet the needs of the market. The following year they did just that with the release of the KTK 415V DC thyristor drive which improved performance, reliability, and energy efficiency for motor control.
In 1985 the business up-sized its premises and repositioned itself as Control Techniques, it had been enjoying fast and profitable growth and needed to expand to keep up with product demand. As it grew in Newtown, so did its network globally, having developed close relationships with customers on a global scale, the necessity to be able to service them locally was a big part of the business strategy. From its early beginnings, Control Techniques today has its Headquarters, manufacturing, and R&D facilities firmly planted in Newtown with 23 Drive Centres around the world and a partner network in 70 countries to service customer needs.
Control Techniques has since created a global name for itself as pioneers in the drives industry with their innovative drive technology. Recognising market opportunities and introducing a series of world’s first products to the market played a key role in the success and rise of Control Techniques over the ensuing years.
In 1982 the world’s smallest drive was invented then in 1986, Mentor, the world’s first fully digital DC drive was launched. The development of Mentor to the present day has made Mentor, arguably the world’s favourite DC drive. In 1989 the world’s first practical flux vector AC drive came to the fore. The role of the Commander CD was to control the speed of AC electric motors which were used for a host of applications from pumping, mixing and conveying to driving small machine tools and fans.
Then in 1995, the birth of Unidrive the world’s first truly universal AC drive – a single product for all applications. It enabled all motor control requirements to be catered for in a single, compact product; sensorless vector, open loop, flux vector closed loop and high-performance brushless AC servo. This brings us to 2022 with the recent release of the latest generation of Commander. A micro general-purpose drive, Commander S with its Marshal app, is the first drive to come with an app interface and onboard NFC (Near Field Communication) technology as a standard feature.
The Marshal app has revolutionised the way to interface with the drive covering commissioning, monitoring, diagnostics, and support.
Control Techniques are proud of its heritage over drive technology the past 50 years, having grown from just three to 1,400 employees, thanks to continued investment, and heroes in innovation. None of this would be possible, without one of the most important ingredients, the people. The term drive obsessed comes as a result of seeing the drive and determination of the many employees that have passed through its doors with the knowledge, innovation, and engineering excellence that contribute to an ever-growing and thriving drives business.
Control Techniques drive technology achievements would not have been possible without our customers, so a big thank you goes to all our customers for their continued support by utilising our products, in more and more innovative ways. The business is dedicated to continuing to strive for excellence in everything we do and pushing to build and install award-winning drives, that will propel our customers to great success.
So, how do we mark our 50th birthday and what will we take with us into the next half a century?
A promise to think big, invest big, and build many more generations of innovative, ground-breaking drives for another 50 years and beyond.
This promise will ensure that Control Techniques continues to generate new employment opportunities, and strengthen its ability to meet the ever-growing, long-term demand for drives globally and innovative drive technology.
Control Techniques says “Reaching 50 is a milestone and we are honoured that we get to share our birthday with our parent company Nidec, also founded in 1973. Two businesses that have grown to great heights individually, through sheer hard work and determination. Being brought together in 2017 allowed us to share the last five years of growth together, to support each other through some challenging times, but ultimately come out stronger because of it. We have no plans to stop now, being great innovators and serving the drives industry is what we do best, and we will continue to do so into the future. We want to say a big Happy birthday to everyone who has been a part of our journey so far, be you customers, suppliers, or employees. Three big cheers for you! We couldn’t have done it without you”