Conversation with Steve Black

Senior Business Development Manager, Moog Components Group


Please tell us how Moog Components Group got started and how it made a name for itself in the industry.

Moog Components Group was founded more than 60 years ago by two brothers, George and James Pandapas, in the basement of a building in downtown Blacksburg, Virginia. The first plant was called Electro-Tec, and it manufactured miniature slip ring assemblies. A few years later, the brothers decided to go their separate ways. James started Poly-Scientific where he and his team developed the plating technologies that would eventually lead them to develop high-performance slip rings. The company has grown dramatically since then. What began with some slip rings and a few conductors, the company evolved into a leading supplier in motion control, air moving, electronics, and fiber optics that addresses critical performance applications and has expanded into multiple industries, including wind energy. Moog Inc. acquired the business in 2003.

As Moog Components Group, we started exploring the wind energy market in the mid 1990s. At that time, most of the business pursuit for pitch slip rings was in Europe. As GE, Clipper, and others moved into the wind energy market, we began pursing OEM business in the United States as well. While we had a compelling product and the technology, the unit price we required was too high for the OEMs, and we were unable to secure business. As we watched the market grow, we began to see the opportunity to take our technology directly to the owners and operators of the turbines.

Tell us about your role at Moog and how you got involved in wind energy.

My role as the senior business development manager has been to explore new opportunities, and the wind energy market looked like a good fit because there was a critical application, a demanding environment, and a cost model at the owner/operator level that would support our product price. We made contact with turbine operators, visited sites, and were very pleased with the interest in our company and technology. There was a high level of interest in a high-reliability slip ring that would eliminate routine maintenance and costly downtime. We do not intend to be the lowest cost supplier. We build our market on reputation by providing the most reliable product that ultimately lowers the overall cost of ownership for our customers.

What products and services does Moog offer to the wind industry?

Moog Components Group is recognized as a key supplier of pitch slip rings, as well as other high performance components including alternators, control energy conversion systems, and fiber optic devices.

Our mission is to supply the wind industry with high-reliability slip rings in critical applications where durability, performance, and uptime are demanded.

Our customers in the wind energy market see Moog as a high-reliability product supplier. However, we endeavor to go beyond that to build a solid relationship with them by providing continual support and prompt delivery.

What can industry members expect from Moog in the future?

Our technology continues to be driven by the increased demand for faster data transfer. In combination with data transfer, we also integrate power — all within the same device. With more sensitive data and higher data rates comes the heightened challenge to protect power from interfering with the data stream. We will continue to stay at the forefront of power and data transfer. As an example, Ethernet data transfer in slip rings is now a major feature throughout our various product lines. Our technologies to transfer mass data by optical rotary joints is now playing into our commercial product offerings and will expand substantially as driven by application requirements.

What are some of the challenges associated with harnessing wind energy where working with Moog would be beneficial?

Companies come to us when they need to transfer power and data across a rotary interface with a challenging application in a tough, demanding environment. Moog’s products are known for providing exceptional reliability and performance in applications where our competitors struggle. We strive to build long-term relationships with our customers and support our products long after the sale. We want our customers to see Moog Components Group as a valuable extension of their own business.

What can industry members expect from Moog at this year’s Windpower conference?

Moog is looking forward to meeting with our prospective and current customers at Windpower 2016. We will be exhibiting our high-performance pitch slip ring solutions and highlighting our newest releases for the Suzlon S64 and S88 turbines. You can find us at Booth #2222.

What is your outlook on the U.S. wind energy industry?

The wind market is solid and growing. With the establishment of the Production Tax Credit for a five-year period, the groundwork is in place for steady and consistent growth in turbine installations. Wind energy prices are decreasing and becoming self-sustaining. In my years of working in the wind energy market, it has been exciting to see areas of our country thriving due to the growth of the wind business. It is great to see land being repurposed with wind turbine installations and see once-declining communities now growing due to revenue related to the installation and operation of wind turbines.

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  Moog Components Group