In 1988, ASC developed its first version of Flextime. At the time, PC-control was practically non-existent in the composites industry and most advanced control systems utilized proprietary hardware or expensive mini-computers. Back then, even the simplest of computer control systems cost $100,000 or more. ASC was determined to develop a configurable package that could be powerful, reliable, and affordable.
Most manufactures at the time believed that software should be designed for the equipment and not for the process. ASC disagreed and took the lead in designing Flextime as a composite processing package first, and an equipment controller second. At the time, ASC actively interviewed process, production, and materials engineers at Lockheed, Northrop, Boeing, GE, and other customer in order to create a "wish list" of necessary features and capabilities. We listened closely and ultimately incorporated every requested feature.
It was also ASC's position at the time that not only should the PC be used for data-collection and reporting, but it should also be the primary controller of the equipment. ASC's competitors on the other hand felt that the PC was not capable of direct equipment control, and as a result their software and control system development targeted a PLC control configuration with the PC providing supervision only.
ASC had a different approach. It was our design philosophy to not only have Flextime handle the HMI (human machine interface) and reporting duties, but also provide direct control of every physical motor, valve, and sensor on the autoclave. Within the first Flextime package, ASC invented a unique and power logic programming language that the control engineer could use to tailor the system to a specific piece of equipment. With that feature, ASC was able to take control of not only its own autoclaves, but other manufacturers' autoclaves, ovens, presses, and practically any type of equipment.
In 1990, ASC expanded Flextime and launched the first multi-equipment version. Named "Flextime-Mult", the package could concurrently control more than 20 pieces of equipment. This proved to be a very popular package, because customer could purchase a single control system and have advanced PC-based controls on all of their equipment, including smaller equipment. The per-equipment cost for PC-based control was 25% what it would be if a separate control system were purchased for each equipment.
With the advent of Windows NT, ASC developed its Windows version of Flextime which is the foundation for the current Flextime package. Through the years, we have added thousands of new features and capabilities to meet our customer's needs. We are still listening to our customers and as a result are improving our product everyday. – less–ZoomInfo