Why SuperSeed Invested in ThingTrax
Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled by machine learning is rapidly changing the world. McKinsey estimates that AI has the potential to replace as much as 800m jobs before the end of the decade.
Manufacturing is an area that is likely to see significant disruption. Already, robotics is having a major impact, with the number of industrial robots shipped per year growing from ~300,000 in 2016 to 550,000 forecasted for 2020.
AI promises to usher in the next phase of productivity gains in the manufacturing sector. However, as with all machine learning, the algorithms we deploy are only as effective as the data they are fed. And today, as much as 90% of manufacturing equipment remains unconnected.
Unconnected machines = no data, and no data = no way to use machine learning to improve manufacturing performance. Manufacturers could upgrade all of their legacy manufacturing equipment to new, connected models, however, with the cost of a machine measured in millions, the up-front capital costs can be prohibitive. And even when machines are upgraded, manufacturers often buy equipment from different vendors, meaning that the data supplied can be heterogeneous and not easily analysed cross platform. And finally, even when we have a steady flow of data from the machines, the plants are still only as efficient as the employees working in them. And in many plants, employees are still critical to the overall success of the production process.
This is where ThingTrax comes in.
ThingTrax – the Chromecast of Manufacturing
ThingTrax provides a solution that transforms legacy manufacturing plants into modern, fully connected manufacturing facilities with capability for automation and intelligent planning.
Co-Founded by the exceptional IoT and software engineers Aman Gupta and Imran Shafqat, ThingTrax has developed a solution with three components:
- Small IoT devices that monitor individual manufacturing equipment
- Video cameras that look at how workers are working in the plant
- A cloud platform that takes data from both sensors and cameras, and produces actionable insights for plant managers.
This helps managers:
- Optimise plant throughput by uncovering production process inefficiencies
- Facilitate production scheduling (i.e. optimising throughput, scheduling staff etc).
- Improve health and safety (making sure workers are moving in the right way, not too close to dangerous equipment etc).
So the solution adds lots of value to manufacturers, and often has ROI of < 6 months. The hardware is inexpensive, and the bulk of the solution is subscription based. It’s a good combination.
But wait, there is more!
As we were finalising our investment in ThingTrax, the Covid epidemic broke out. And the ThingTrax team responded quickly by enabling a series of new features on their platform, specifically to help manufacturers deal with the epidemic.
Specifically, they have rolled out features that:
- provide thermal monitoring to see if any employees have fever,
- social distancing analysis to see if employees are working too closely,
- Personal Protective Equipment analysis to see if employees have the right PPE kit, and
- contract tracing to figure out who employees have been close to, if they should later show symptoms of Covid infection.
This innovation was all undertaken in response from existing customers, and we see this kind of rapid response to customer needs as a great testament to the product ability and engineering proves of the ThingTrax team.
We are excited about what Aman, Imran and their crew can build over the coming years – both in terms of the solutions they make for their customers and also in terms of the company they are creating.