Precision Microdrives Services and Capabilities
Our mission as a company is simple:
we have to deliver reliable motor products to customers worldwide when they need them and to the specification agreed.
Whilst some of the parts we sell are critical to the functionality of the end product, many are not; our parts are used to add value or give a competitive edge to in the form of additional functionality to an existing product.
Either way, we completely understand that the cost of holding up or slowing a production line is considerably more expensive than the value of the part we're supplying. To support our customers, therefore, we have spent the last 10 years developing a number of core competencies to help us deliver.
'On time & To Spec'.
We're the only supplier of miniature motors (that we know of) that has offices in both Europe (London, UK) and China (Shenzhen). Having a manufacturing expertise in both locations is critical to ensure that parts are made correctly to our, and our customer's specifications.
For miniature motor products 'cheap labour costs' are just not a factor these days. Since it's initial development by Japanese industrialists in the 1980s, the motor manufacturing infrastructure and particularly sub-component ecosystem in parts of China and Taiwan simply don't exist anywhere else in the world.
We, therefore, operate with a number of market leading partner factories in the Shenzhen and Suzhou regions of China as well as sub-component manufacturers in Taiwan and Japan to ensure that our parts continue to offer the very best in performance and reliability.
We also understand our markets better than other manufacturers, which is why we have a more innovative product range and are able to offer a wider range of customisations, particularly in the form of leads, connectors and wiring looms.
If you have any unusual requirements or simply want your supplier to offer a completed product, please contact us, and one of our application engineers will be ready to help.
Quality Control & Analysis
It's common sense, that the cost of a part failing, can wind up much greater than the cost of the same part in the first place. Nearly all of the sales we earn are due to a confidence and trust in our quality control systems being better than our competitors'. For this reason, QC has become the heart of our business process.
This starts with a decent specification for what we're making. This is available on request for every part that we make, whilst the specification for stocked parts is published on our website. We work with factories that have shown a consistent competence in manufacturing products to our specifications. All partner factories have ISO 9001 certification, and every part produced on our production lines is individually tested and inspected.
Sampled testing is then performed on each batch by our Shenzhen office in a second inspection process. With our experience, we know where the potential failures will lie, and it's rare, but not unknown for whole batches to go back to the line for reworking at this point; better that than sending them on a fruitless 12,000-mile journey. Because of our local infrastructure, a rework carries at most a 2~4 day turn-around before parts are back on their way.
Once passed the 2nd inspection, if the batch is destined to be sent directly to our customer (e.g. if it is a large volume to go by sea), a further sampling is undertaken, and those samples are sent to our office in London by air for a 3rd and final inspection. Alternatively, this final sampling and inspection stage is performed in London for those batches which are destined for our shelf-stock.
We keep samples of every batch produced in London, and prior to being released on sale, we check these samples on our bespoke automated testing machines.
When we started Precision Microdrives, we looked extensively for testing apparatus that could reliably characterise the motors we make and sell, more accurately than was being done by the rest of the industry. There was nothing commercially available, so we built our own motor testing machines and facilities from scratch.
This was challenging, not least because many of the values (e.g. torque for 4mm motors) are at an extreme (e.g. very small). In the end, we came up with some smart techniques of automatically testing all the parameters that anyone might need to know and built racks of computer controlled testing bays. One of these types, 'Sherlock' (named after a famous London detective), a gear-motor testing machine, is shown below.
We also developed a much faster-audited method of quality checking dimensions of sampled parts. Our QC machine 'marksman' produces pixel perfect images (with no parallax or other optical errors) of motors set-up on the inspection table. These are then stored in our QC system and the images are measured to the nearest 0.05mm using custom-written software and checked against the drawing.
Similarly, the data collected by our testing machines for dc motors, gear motors and vibration motors, is loaded into our QC database and cross-checked against the original specifications.
Longevity testing is quickly becoming one of our specialities as well. The problem with most longevity testing is that if the load profile isn't similar to the end application, is next to useless as a guide for the potential lifetime. Because our 'Sherlock' gear motor testing machines, for example, feature a computer controlled dynamometer, we can set up a longevity test to simulate the sort of loads that a motor would see in the application, as well as monitor how parameters change over time. The results from this life-testing are therefore much more indicative of the actual motor lifetime performance.
Motor Application Design
We spend a lot of time and energy advising customers how to use our products. Understandably this wins us a lot of business; most of our customers are using our parts to add value to or give a competitive advantage to, their own products.
If the development costs of adding these new features end up being more than the financial benefit of adding the feature, clearly the feature is going lose the developer money. When the said developer is our customer, we strive to avoid that situation.
Fortunately, we have a lot of experience in applying vibration, DC and geared DC motors to a wide range of products and applications. Just to be sure that our skills are kept on the cutting-edge, we also undertake a couple of complete development projects each year. We're not a design agency, but some projects offer the chance to creatively innovate and learn more about the issues facing our own customers when using our parts.
If you have an application problem, or maybe you have a project that just needs to be solved by someone with experience, please drop us a line, and we'll be happy to help.
This should be obvious, but it's worth re-iterating. Many of our customers are leaders in their fields, and as part of our work together it is often the case that both parties need to divulge confidential information. We're used to this, and will always advise immediately if there is likely to be a conflict of interest with an existing relationship.
We take confidentiality very seriously and 'offer it' by default as part of every discussion we have. We're happy to sign NDA's as well, and offer via the link below, our standard mutual non-disclosure agreement, should you want assurances that information will only be disclosed to those that need to know.
Logistics & Infrastructure
So far we've talked a lot about making things to specification, innovating and keeping our lips sealed. But there is one other competence that we still need to mention. After all, having parts to spec is no good if they're holding up a production line for 3 weeks.
Getting parts from one city to another, 6000 miles away and then onto a destination city another 5000 miles away (this is actually quite a common route for small volumes of stock parts to our US customers) isn't child's play. Luckily some other enterprises (right) have solved that problem for us. Our manufacturing platform ties into DHL's, UPS's and FedEx's systems so we can keep track of shipments to our warehouse and to our customers.
That leaves just (though not trivial) the matter of making our products within tight commercial lead times. We achieve this by having a production team on the 'ground' and they work very closely with manufacturing partners. Where volume dictates, we organise a dedicated production line, but even in those cases where we do not, all parts are made to our own strict quality standards & specifications. Lines operating under these conditions can typically produce around 15,000 motors per day.
Our lead times for non-stocked parts are typically 4 weeks. This is generally due to the lead time on sub-components, particularly parts which have custom leads or connectors, or non-standard mounting options. These parts are all manufactured to order by specialist suppliers and co-ordinated by our Shenzhen production team.