By Nic Meadows, Engineer, Motion Sensors
Motion Sensors Industries (MSI) is a family run OEM founded in 1970 and located in Elizabeth City, NC. Today, Motion Sensors is owned by Marcy Pritchard, who started with the company in 2002 as the General Manager. Marcy became president in 2006 when her father retired, and she has been focused on continuous improvement and upgrading technology to grow business ever since.
MSI is a low-to-medium-volume production OEM that creates custom products for specific customer applications. These include sensors for flow meter applications, sensors for the rail industry (specifically designed to meet the harsh and rugged environment), and numerous products for aerospace and military applications, including sensors used in space programs, nuclear submarines, missile systems, jet aircraft and armored vehicles. MSI can administer and oversee qualification testing, and has in-house facilities and capability to provide comprehensive ATP testing to meet stringent military and aerospace requirements.
MSI also provides services such as PCB board assembly and testing, and customer engineering services including electrical and mechanical product engineering, reverse engineering, prototyping, PCB layout, and circuit simulation.
The company has faced challenges along the way, mostly the preconception that as a small company they may not have the capabilities necessary to complete a job to the highest quality level. They had lost prospective business because they were viewed as “too small” to support the needs of a larger client. In reality, MSI has implemented management systems and capabilities that are similar to larger competitors. All Motion Sensors’ quality management systems are ISO9001 and AS9100 certified, they have in house certified IPC trainers, as well as in-house capabilities for functional and environmental testing, including temperature, pressure, and vibration. MSI has recently designed and manufactured product for some of the largest and most demanding clients in a variety of industries.
Mrs. Pritchard recognizes the benefit of investing in new equipment to optimize technology and efficiency. She decided to completely update her PCB assembly equipment. Her goal was for MSI to have all the capability and advanced technology of any bigger “world class” company. After extensive evaluation by Marcy and her engineering team, they replaced every PCB assembly machine with new, state of the art equipment. Their new PCB assembly line includes a Juki GL fully automatic screen printer, Juki KE-3020 high speed flexible mounter, Juki RS-800 reflow oven, a Juki CUBE.460 selective soldering machine and a SouthTek nitrogen generator.
When asked why she decided to purchase Juki over their competitors her answer was a resounding, “Quality.” But there were several reasons which factored into her decision. “First of all, from a capability and price standpoint, Juki definitely was at the top of the list,” commented Pritchard. “What clearly made them stand above the rest was a combination of the support we received from our Juki rep, Bob Doetzer, and the fact that Juki had an office right here in North Carolina. We spoke with other Juki customers and actually visited one facility and all were consistent in describing the phenomenal support that Juki offered both during initial implementation/setup and also on an ongoing basis. As a small company with limited resources we knew that having strong support and involvement was key to our ability to maximize our equipment investment.”
The Juki GL printer replaced an old manual printer and provides higher quality printings. The older manual method led to issues getting consistent paste deposits. The Juki KE-3020 with electronic feeders replaced an old Universal GSM two machine line. The KE-3020 has only been in use since February 2017, but Motion Sensors is already seeing substantial improvements in precision, quality, throughput and an immense increase in speed The Juki RS-800 eight zone hot air/ Nitrogen reflow oven with efficient power design and air management system greatly improves energy savings while increasing quality and throughput. And the Juki CUBE.460 selective soldering machine has improved consistency and quality by eliminating the hand soldering process.
Prior to purchasing this equipment, Motion Sensors was performing a lot of these processes manually and/or using equipment with only a fraction of the capabilities that the Juki machines have (ex: manual solder paste application; pick and place machines from the early 90’s and hand soldering). Implementation of the new equipment has allowed MSI to increase productivity and efficiency, but far more importantly it has enhanced product quality and repeatability. As a manufacturer focused on low volumes but with a high product mix, versatility is a must. But they also needed the repeatability that comes from automating operations that previously were operator dependent. This translates into a repeatable, high quality product. All these upgrades have led to greater efficiency, fewer defects, and a higher quality product.
Bob Doetzer is the local Juki representative who has worked closely with MSI through this transition. “MSI has always been committed to building the highest quality products and now they have the tools to be considered world class,” commented Bob. “Marcy made a commitment to outfitting her production facility to be among the best in the world and she has followed through on that commitment. All equipment is state of the art and all their operators are IPC certified. The plan has evolved even better than expected. Efficiency is up, defects are down and quality outstanding. MSI is poised and ready for growth!”
Motion Sensors has an in-house machine shop, PCB assembly line, and welding, as well as sensor assembly operations. Motion Sensors smaller size allows flexibility and responsiveness which leads to exceptional customer support. This competitive advantage is greatly improved by their new Juki equipment. “Juki has quickly become a “go-to” option for Motion Sensors when dealing with process related issues and opportunities for continuous improvement,” commented Marcy Pritchard, President of Motion Sensors. “Information and recommendations, as well as troubleshooting and support are timely, consistent and thorough. I fully trust the expertise of Bob Doetzer and the rest of the Juki team, and will continue to rely upon their advice and recommendations in the future. Their entire approach tells us that we are more than just another order to them; they truly care about Motion Sensors’ success and future growth and want to be part of that process.”