OPS Solutions Scores More Funding from Michigan Capital Advisors

OPS Solutions, the Wixom, MI-based startup working on augmented reality technologies for manufacturers, has scored additional funding from lead investor Michigan Capital Advisors (MCA), a private equity firm focused on the automotive industry and transportation-related technologies.

Earlier this month, MCA inked a deal to again invest in OPS, the maker of Light Guide Systems (LGS), a proprietary software and projection process that aims to improve manufacturing operations on the shop floor. By beaming a digital “canvas” directly onto any work surface, LGS provides those on the factory line with audio and visual prompts, pacing, and guidance.

The specific terms of the deal were not disclosed, but MCA managing partner Charles “Chip” McClure says the firm now has a minority position in OPS. He will also join its board of directors as part of the investment.

“I’ve known [OPS Solutions CEO] Paul [Ryznar] for 20 years,” McClure says, explaining why his firm, which he describes as a group of investors immune to the cyclical nature of the auto industry, wanted to re-up its investment in OPS. (Ryznar and McClure used to work together at Detroit Diesel, a local engine manufacturer.) “Paul has great relationships with great customers. We’ve got the right team in place.”

When McClure started his career 30 years ago, the manufacturing instructions that LGS can now project onto factory equipment were in a book kept up on a shelf and “never saw the light of day,” McClure recalls.

“Then, 20 years ago, we started to laminate the instructions and put them near each station,” he says. “But unless it’s right at your station, you’ll make mistakes or have to look up, which slows everything down.”

When he found out about the OPS approach of beaming the instructions right onto a factory’s work surfaces, he was immediately interested.

“Industrial tech is growing, and not just in Michigan,” McClure says. “When you’re trying to create tools to increase productivity and decrease errors, virtual reality and artificial reality technologies fit right in.”

McClure also feels that mid-size and smaller suppliers—those that work in the automotive sector and other industries with a heavy manufacturing component—are “really underserved” when it comes to assistive technologies.

“It’s an area that needs focus and investment,” he says. “Most suppliers that survived the recession are strong, diversified companies, and they’re not 100 percent tied to automotives.”

McClure says it’s too early to predict exactly what path OPS Solutions will take as it moves into the market, but he and his partners wanted to double-down and further support the already-profitable company’s growth trajectory. Earlier this year, OPS announced it was moving into a new 10,000-square-foot facility. The company, launched in 2005, has 22 employees.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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