Speaker interview: Dan Barlow, Integrated Control Technologies

Dan Barlow

In this speaker interview, we spoke to Dan Barlow, President of Integrated Control Technologies.

ICT is an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) that specializes in extruder drive and control upgrades for the plastic extrusion industry. Dan works directly with the customers to deliver solutions to their process problems caused by aging and failing equipment at a reasonable cost. He is directly involved in managing the flow of projects within the organization.

How do you see the industry developing and growing in the next three-to-five years?

The movement to eliminate plastics from the environment is the single largest threat to the longevity of manufacturing.  The development in products that are “green” and influencing the movement leaders will be critical to survival. In addition, we anticipate the overall growth rate will be reduced based upon continued supply chain issues, and chip shortages. These will not only continue for a year or more, but if China were to go to war with Taiwan, this could significantly worsen the backlogs effecting drive and control deliveries for new systems. The result would be potentially catastrophic to production with significant downtimes and push toward negative growth. Lastly, the increase in interest rates are going to slow CapEx growth projects and some will choose to delay key initiatives increasing risks of greater downtime, offsetting cash retention with decreased throughput.


What do you consider to be the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment?

There are several: the leading problem that will continue for a number of years are the supply chain shortages for products such as Variable Speed Drives that will force some to choose which lines will run and which will be shut down; the current backlog for most manufacturers are over a year now. Labor shortages will possibly continue as baby boomers are retiring at increasing rates, but the recent drop in 401k’s may force delays on this issue. Lastly, the availability of repair parts and sub-components for repair of older equipment will continue to be in short supply, taking a second priority to the production of new products. 
You cannot wait until things get better, this is a marathon recovery that will take years to correct course, it is not a sprint to everything is back to normal!   


You will be speaking at AMI’s plastics industry expos in the US in November, could you give us a preview on what you will be talking about?

With all the challenges, it is not unusual to take a “wait and see” position and hold off on plans until things are “better”, unfortunately, stagnation will only result in getting left behind, and avoiding challenges can increase the overall risks.  Better strategic planning is required, even more so than before if one plans to survive.  It important to know the challenges and developing a path forward to avoid risks. In my session, we will be identifying these things that are problematic, and the risk in ignoring them.

Dan will be presenting an industry presentation on 'What are you risking with outdated controls?' at the Plastic Extrusion World Expo Conference 2022.