JULY 2017


If you’re like me, you watch Discovery Channel’s How it’s Made with your thumb on the pause button. Sure, it’s neat to see how my favourite ice cream sandwich is put together from ingredients to packaging, but it’s fascinating to see in detail the machines and robots that are specifically designed to make it all happen. Can you imagine the engineering resources a company would need to be able to take an order for an industrial-sized ice cream sandwich machine with very particular specs? I’ve often wondered who makes the machines that help businesses make their products. Then I spoke with Sam Lim, the Vice President of 416 Automation. 416 Automation offers superior custom solutions in the worlds of automated machinery, testing equipment, and adaptable electrical panels. Sam chatted over the phone with Spotlight on Business from 416 Automation’s Mississauga, Ontario facility in late June about what it’s like to build dream machines for the giants of the automotive industry– and more.

By David MacDonald I f you were going to compare Sam to a US Veep, it would have to be Joe Biden. He’s quick, clever, friendly and positive – and genuinely selfless. “I’m just a lucky guy who gets to have fun working with a bunch of nice people doing fun stuff,” he laughed when I asked him about himself. Sam was much more interested in talking about his colleagues, so I had to do a little digging. His education is impressive. He graduated from the University of Waterloo with a bach- elor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering where he special- ized in mechatronics, or technology that combines elec- tronics and mechanical engineering. He then went on to the University of Liverpool to earn his Master of Science in Information Technology. “I joined the 416 team in January 2012 and Victor joined in November 2016 – and Mimmo Carbonara started it all in 2009. We all used to work together at Sterner Automation before 2008.  Unfortunately, Sterner Automation ceased operations during the last recession.  Shortly after, Mimmo started 416 Automation.  Victor and I had already taken other jobs just before he started the business. I got a job Sam is the Professional Engineer of the future, today.

working for Research in Motion as a software developer until 2012 and Victor got a job at Skyservice and became Director of Planning in Sales and Support before he joined 416.” “We have an extensive engineering expertise that enables us to design our own electronics instead of buying off-the- shelf solutions.” For Sam and the rest of the management team at 416 Automation, Mimmo is much more than the president and founder of the company; he’s a real leader. “Yes, he’s responsible for the sales, finances, and administration teams, but Mimmo is more – he’s the heart of the company. He really is the driving force for our growth.  He is a natural entrepreneur with an uncanny gut instinct for business. He’s also got a gifted mind for visualizing the design in his mind and he has a memory like a computer recorder.  He really does remember everything,” Sam explained mat- ter-of- factly. Mimmo graduated from Centennial College as a Mechanical Technician where he specialized in tool





in the automotive industry in Korea. JJ and the Director of 416 Automation Korea, Jinseop Lim both graduated from Korea Polytechnic University with degrees in Mechatron- ics Engineering. Jinseop is also a talented mechanical designer and he’s been friends with JJ since University. JJ and JS make a great team and they’re leading the growth in South Korea.” “South Korea was a great opportunity because of the density of potential customers in a small geographical area.  You can reach all the customers within three and a half hours of driving.  Hyundai and Kia are automotive giants and it became very clear that you need to have a presence in Korea to win their business.  Fortunately, we were able to impress the customers with our product line and we’ve been growing very quickly since we opened an office in Korea.  Before we opened an office, there was a lack of competition in automotive test equipment business and many clients were looking for an alternate vendor.  So, when we started, customers were very happy to have an alternate option.  As usual, we provided a solution that was different in a good way.  One funny story is that when we first installed our machine, the customer didn’t initially like our HMI [human-machine interface] design because it was so different from local vendors.  But I’m told now that the same customer is telling the local vendors to make their HMI design like ours.” The growth at home in Ontario is steady too and Sam explained that the size of their current custom solution team is the perfect indicator. “When I joined the team in 2012, we had four people.  By the end of 2017, we’re hoping to reach 24 people. Ninety percent of our employees have some sort of technical background in an engineering field. We have a young diverse group of people which reflects the diversity of Greater Toronto Area. And 416 Automation is a great place to start your career because it gives a person exposure to a variety of projects and work environments. From a purely technical aspect, I love my job because I’m always learning and doing something new.” “For the size of our company,” he continued, “we have an extensive engineering expertise that enables us to design our own electronics instead of buying off-the- shelf solu- tions.  Traditional automation companies are referred to as ‘integrators,’ meaning they simply buy components and put them together to create an automation solution.  We go a step further and create our own components, which gives us flexibility and total control over the design – which helps us to provide the most cost-effective solution to the customer.” Sam explained how he and his colleagues created their own device to measure particular electrical circuits. “Tra- ditionally, you would need to purchase an expensive instru- ment that has many features that you don’t need – and the customer you’re working for would pay.  So we created a device that meets the functional requirement without unnecessary features that add to the cost.”

GDA Machining Inc. Dusan Djermanovic, President

500 Edward Ave. Richmond Hill, ON L4C 4Y9 Tel: 416-668-5119 Email: GDA Machining Inc. 32 McLeod Dr. Aurora, ON L4G 5E8

and die making, or making tools used in manufacturing and assembly processes like jigs, fixtures, dies, molds, machine tools, cutting tools, and gauges. He then went on to Humber College to earn his degree in Electromechanical Engineering Technology – Automation and Robotics. “We’re also lucky to have Victor Hilario, our Engineering Manager. Victor is a seasoned electrical engineer with almost 25 years’ experience, mostly in the automation industry servicing in various capacities tier-one and tier-two automotive clients.  Victor joined 416 Automation recently to reunite with his former colleagues and help lead a strong multi-disciplinary technical team,” Sam said. “He went to the University of Toronto where he got his degree in Elec- trical Engineering with a focus in control system design.” “He’s the heart of the company. He really is the driving force for our growth.” “There’s also another branch to our company: 416 Automa- tion Korea. JJ is responsible for 416 Automation Korea. Jeon Jin is the president of that side of the operation and he’s a veteran; he brings over 13 years of engineering experience

“The bottom line is that we have a deeper understanding of the underlying science and technology and we are able to come up with creative and cost-effective solutions.” Word has traveled well since 416 Automation’s launch in 2009. A quick visit to the ‘Clients’ page at 416Automation. com is a virtual who’s who tour of the automotive world. “The majority of our customers are tier-one, major sup- pliers, vendors in the automotive industry like Adient, Lear, Faurecia, and Magna.  But a lot of times we have the opportunity to interact directly and do business with our client’s customers who are the OEMs [original equipment managers] such as Ford, GM and Chrysler,” Sam explained. “It’s easy to only provide solutions that the customer asks for.  What we do is go above and beyond the customer’s requirements and try to think of ways to make things better. Sometimes, we approach the customer with a solution to a problem that they haven’t even considered because they thought it wasn’t possible.” “We have an extensive engineering expertise that enables us to design our own electronics instead of buying off-the- shelf solutions.” One such example is SeatBOT.  Sam explained how Mimmo worked with students and faculty from his latter alma mater, Humber College, to create SeatBOT. “We were the first in the industry to fully automate automotive seat testing using a robot. Everyone likes technology, but Mimmo – and everyone here – loves solving difficult problems. They designed this unmanned system, something new in robotic technology that tests seatbelts, power seat options, levers, the track bar, all at the end of the assembly line. It’s a great example of a unique solution from 416 Automation and some young up-and- coming talents.” For Sam, one of the key factors in 416 Automation’s success has been their solid business relationships with vendors. “As I mentioned before, so much of our business comes through referrals, 100% actually, so it helps when our vendors believe in our capabilities. Even when we’re exer-

cising our imaginations, our ingenuity, everyone works very hard to finish jobs on time. We wouldn’t have it any other way. We take every job very seriously. That’s why we look for people who have a positive attitude and dedication to success.  But we also know how to maintain a relaxed, friendly working environment.” While things have been “extremely busy” at 416 Automa- tion these days, Sam explained that they do consider the time they take for team building as another part of the job. “The lunches and things like that are a lot of fun, but for the Christmas party last year, we all went to a Raptors game. That was memorable,” he said with a grin you could hear over the phone.


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416 Automation Inc. 1060 Britannia Rd. East Units 1 & 2 Mississauga, Ontario L4W 4T1

as spotlighted in the JULY 2017 issue of SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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