ATS Systems was created in July of 2006 when ATS Workholding purchased SMW Systems. Both firms had long heritages in the machine tool accessory business. The merger created a firm with unusual product breadth and an unsurpassed team of more than 60 staff, with headquarters in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. Our nationwide, local regional managers provide in-shop sales consultations to match the right products to applications. Our operations staff engineer, build, and configure these products. And our service technicians install them, teach manufacturers their safe use, and support them for their lifetime.
Prior to the acquisition, ATS Workholding had for decades been North America's largest producer of collet-chucks. The firm's products are by now ubiquitous workholding devices, used in almost every machine shop.
Founder Bill Murphy started machining in a job shop in 1960. By 1969 he had learned to enjoy the design and engineering aspects of the business, and he started his own job shop, R&M Machine, in Garden Grove California. In 1978, Bill was in need of a collet chuck to work with Warner & Swasey collet pads. He ordered one as an accessory for a new machine and, after 6 months waiting for delivery for the chuck, he decided to make it himself. After using it a short time, he was pleased with the extent to which it improved his lathe's efficiency. He decided to make a 5C collet chuck too. At that time, this product was hard to come by, not readily available off the shelf. This too was very productive; his friends saw it and started asking him to make one for their machines. From there the business proliferated. Bill and his partner Wes Bakke decided to start a company that manufactured and inventoried collet chucks for the entire manufacturing industry. Advanced Tool Systems officially opened its doors March 1, 1981. Bill and Wes worked hard in the succeeding years to increase the product line to cover all common collet chuck applications.
Bill eventually bought out Wes's stake in the business, but ATS has hardly been a solo effort since. After 40 years in the industry, Bill notes that there are hundreds of people across the country, many of them customers, who were instrumental in the development of ATS Workholding and its product line. He considers them friends and deeply values their past and continuing contributions. Throughout its development, ATS Workholding has employed many talented operations staff and embraced cutting-edge production processes. Beginning as a CNC shop, the firm has also been an early adopter of multi-tasking and automation processes. All of the above have helped ATS to hone its terrific reputation for customer service and quick delivery.
SMW Systems had been founded in 1973 as the exclusive importer of unique, self-contained power chucks and automatic self-centering steadyrests. Both products were imported from a creative German company, SMW Schneider & Weisshaupt. It is a testament to the utility and ingenuity embedded in these products that succeeding generations of each are still among ATS Systems' best selling products. And these first items would be harbingers of the many and varied productivity solutions that SMW Systems introduced to North America in the decades that followed.
In 1976, SMW Systems introduced the Ultimate Chuck, the product for which it may have become best known. This quick jaw-change style power chuck has become an essential tool in today's lean manufacturing environment. Thousands of shops use the Ultimate Chuck or competitive copies to slash setup downtime on their CNC lathes.
In 1981, SMW Systems expanded beyond workholding products with the introduction of the Swiss-made Omnibar hydrodynamic barfeeder. Three years later, the firm developed the first of its rotary indexers, and shortly thereafter launched the first manual pallet changer.
In 1986, the firm introduced to North American manufacturing the short-magazine barfeeder. Competitors at first scoffed at the notion that customers would cut their bars to headstock length. But the payoff of higher spindle speeds, automatic bar-reloading, and significantly reduced floorspace needs convinced a great many to do so. Short magazine style barfeeders are today far and away the most popular barfeeder type, and nearly all barfeeder manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon to offer them.
SMW Systems had been equally innovative with staffing. The firm was the first North American accessory provider to hire nationwide, local sales representatives. It was later the first to hire nationwide, local field service technicians to install its products and teach their safe and proper use. Several of the company's former staff have gone on to take prominent positions of leadership throughout the machine tool industry. In general, though, the firm has enjoyed excellent staff stability and loyalty in recent years. The upshot is that this well-seasoned team has terrific knowledge and experience to help customers properly select and apply its products.
ATS Systems has merged these terrific products and, more importantly, people. Our mission is to be the finest provider of machine tool accessories by making available superior sales, service and support resources. We invite you to contact us for any assistance related to your automation and workholding accessory needs.