Based in Burnaby, British Columbia, Photon Control Inc. is a leading Canadian manufacturer and distributor of a wide range of optical sensors. Photon Control was founded in 1988 and at that time primarily served the oil and gas industry. Since then, the company has grown tremendously, now serving a variety of industries where accurate and reliable measurement is of utmost importance, with end-users in the semiconductor, life sciences and manufacturing industries as well.
“We handle design, development, manufacturing and distribution of optical-based sensors and instruments,” explains Christopher Weston, President. “We sell to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), and we also sell some of our sensors to researchers and to institutions such as universities or laboratories. Our sensors are used in a variety of industrial applications, in different manufacturing environments. Our sensors measure temperature, position, pressure and flow.”
Selling quality sensors customers can count on
Photon Control takes pride in providing long-term value to all of its stakeholders, building a strong rapport with its customer base. Whether ensuring reliability in semiconductor manufacturing, hospital equipment, food inspection or oil wells, Photon Control’s technologies are accurate and precise.
“The reason customers use our sensors is because of their high accuracy and reliability. They are very robust and they work well in harsh environments, resisting electromagnetic interference,” says Weston.
“We also offer a full suite of services, from design and engineering to production and distribution. Our customers are looking, in a lot of cases, into custom designed sensors to fit their application. We have very good, close, working relationships and history with our customers.”
Photon Control’s manufacturing capabilities consistently meet customer requirements, as the company is a registered ISO (International Organization for Standardization) facility, which has achieved the international quality management standards for ISO 9001:2008 management system certification. The company also has impressive engineering capabilities and boasts many other regulatory certifications.
They offer several different types of testing in-house, such as environmental, shock and vibration testing, as well as ionic contamination testing.
Moreover, Photon Control is dedicated to constantly refining and updating its technologies to meet its customers’ current and future needs. Photon Control’s technology and product development partner is Photon Control R&D Limited, a Burnaby-based optical sensing technology development company.
According to Weston, this is what has allowed Photon Control to succeed: “having leading-edge technology and products that perform, as well as very good, highly-skilled, knowledgeable staff.”
Solving customers’ problems
Photon Control provides solutions to OEMs in various industries, and is the go-to sensor expert for several Fortune 500 customers.
For instance, in the power sector, Photon Control’s Fluotemp Fiber Optic Temperature Sensors can either be built into equipment during manufacture, or added to existing equipment, allowing for accurate temperature measurements that keeps the equipment functioning. Transformers and generators must be reliable to keep cities around the world lit up and running. Many older power plants, particularly in developing countries, have outdated technology and require this sensor upgrade.
In the semiconductor industry, Photon Control supplies electromagnetic radiation-resistant temperature and positioning sensors for silicon wafer etch tool manufacturers to help them avoid silicon wafer wastage as the wafers are processed for microchip production.
In the life sciences, Photon Control helps companies ensure that their products are suitable for human use and consumption using sensors and spectrometers. Spectrometers are instruments that measure properties of light, which can then be analyzed to detect and identify materials.Temperature sensors and spectrometers are used by pharmaceutical companies and medical researchers to ensure products are safe and effective for humans. Sensors are also used in “phantoms” (which substitute for humans) to calibrate MRI machines for safety and accuracy, while spectrometers are also used in food inspection, such as in produce inspection procedures in Japan.
The future of Photon Control
Currently, Photon Control operates in Canada, but sells to a primarily international client base. “Most of our products are sold to the U.S. or overseas, although everything—from design to final assembly—is done from our one facility here in Burnaby. We are truly a Canadian manufacturing operation,” Weston asserts.
Though the company has already carved a corporate niche in the global marketplace, Photon Control has ambitious plans for the future.
“Photon Control is going to build on its current position as a leader in optical sensing technology in Canada. We plan to continue to grow the business. We are in a very niche application with optical sensors. Our plans are to expand into other industries and expand our product line,” says Weston.
For example, Photon Control recently reintroduced their optical flow meter product, the Focus® 2.0 Optical Gas Flow Meter. The product is used in the oil and gas industry to measure the flow of flare gases. “Flaring” is the burning of waste natural gas associated with oil production, and excessive flaring takes its toll on the environment and on public health. The flow meter is used to measure the flow of flare gas emissions to verify greenhouse gas emission compliance. Weston believes the product has promising growth potential, as many countries seek to monitor and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Photon Control’s gas flow meter technology is a laser-based technology reaching industrial gas flow metering applications. It is quick to install, easy to maintain and cost-effective.
Providing a broad range of optical sensors to a wide range of clients, Photon Control has not only the reliability, but also the adaptability to continue to excel as a leading Canadian business.