The Smallest Details Yield Big Results

Nov. 27, 2007
Moser Jewel Co. Phillipsburg, Number of employees – 7 2007 sales – N/A Markets served – Aerospace, automotive, semiconductor and medical. If you look at the shop floor at Moser Jewel Co., you would almost suspect it’s ...

Moser Jewel Co.
Phillipsburg, N.J.
Number of employees – 7
2007 sales – N/A
Markets served – Aerospace, automotive, semiconductor and medical.

If you look at the shop floor at Moser Jewel Co., you would almost suspect it’s not a machine shop. It’s home to microscopes, tweezers and magnifiers usually found in a laboratory environment.

That’s because the 66-year-old company focuses on micro-precision parts for industries that range from aerospace, semiconductors, flow control, automotive and medical, in addition to components for measurement systems, drafting pens and phonographs. In fact, if you have a record player, there’s a good chance that the needle was made by Moser Jewel.

Moser Jewel operates a number of belt-driven, bench-top machines that are custom made to its specifications. The machines are belt-driven to eliminate motor vibrations that could affect microprecision needed for the parts the company manufactures.

The number of machines the company has is difficult to count – it has special cutting devices, internal and external grinding machines, polishing machines, jewelers’ lathes and miniature tabletop lathes. Some of its equipment is so simple and job-specific that it is a challenge whether to call the device a machine or a tool. However, it also has standard Tornos Swiss-style lathes and South Bend lathes in its shop.

Moser Jewel uses its tools and machines to make production and custom parts from jewels, including synthetic diamond, sapphire, and ruby, tungsten carbide, steel, brass, copper, and exotic metals, such as platinum and hafnium, ceramics and plastics.

It frequently works with feedstock that is 0.005 in. to 0.50 in. in diameter, and its parts range in size from a few millimeters – the size of a grain of rice – down to the nearly invisible. For example: Moser Jewel makes a sapphire nozzle for ink spraying machines that is 0.012 in. in diameter and has a 0.003 in. hole drilled into it. It also makes custom parts that have holes drilled to 0.0004-in. diameters.

A privately held, custom job shop, Moser Jewel started as a producer of synthetic jewel bearings. It came to the United States as a branch of a Swiss company in January 1941, when the U.S. military was worried about security of the supply of jewel bearings it would need for World War II.

The company was originally based in Perth Amboy, N.J., and moved to Phillipsburg, N.J., in 1994. It has seven employees, including four shop floor machinists.

Moser Jewel operates under military standards and maintains records on parts that date back to the 1940s and maintains components for product lines that go back to the 1960s. Yet, it produces newly developed components such as the vacuum pick-up tooling that handles computer chips for the production of computer boards.

“Our quality has to be maintained to ensure that high precision parts do the job for which they are designed,” Alexandre La- Roche, vice president for sales and engineering said.

As many other shops, Moser Jewel had a turning point in 1999, when it changed its management and its focus.

Moser Jewel moved from a complacent, internally focused shop with what LaRoche described as a 1940’s business and manufacturing mentality, to a customer focused shop.

The new management style included bringing shop personnel into weekly meetings to review production targets and deadlines that required building new trust between office and shop personnel.

The company reorganized its shop to improve work flow and material tracing and implemented continuous improvement programs to cut costs by improving productivity.

“We have put a system in place where absolutely everything on a job is measured,” Sharon Duffield, vice president of finance, said. “We control every piece of material from time of receipt through manufacturing and shipment. Every operation on a job is timed and an hourly factor applied to it, so we know if we are on course as to what we estimated it would be.”

And, she added, if a job is outside of expectations, it is reviewed at the company’s weekly meetings to determine what went wrong and how it can be improved.

Adjustments to the shop’s manufacturing processes have ranged from relocating comparators closer to the production floor, to cutting the distance traveled and time taken for in-process inspection by 30 percent, to the custom design of a spring-loaded vacuum pickup for a press machine. The vacuum pickup cut assembly time by half.

Other discussions have provided the company with reduced set-up times through the designation of specific machines and their setups for specific parts.

Besides the weekly production meetings, Moser Jewel has a 15- minute meeting each morning, to review work for the day.

In addition, the company has moved to empower its employees and promotes independent thinking so they can make decisions and adjustments immediately.

The company has developed the ability to turn an order in less than 24 hours, even as it documents each of its jobs in manual procedures. Its procedures are updated continuously to provide details for best practices.

Moser Jewel recorded two returns for rework during 2006 and two returns for rework to date for 2007, amounting to a rework rate of less than 0.5 percent. The company records more than 98 percent first-pass quality from its shop floor.

“We measure, adjust, communicate and develop good relationships internally and externally. We do our best every day, and treat people as well as we can,” Duffield said.

Return to the 10 Best Machine Shops Index