Getting The Right People On The Bus
Let’s first dive into your background. Since Augury’s acquisition of Seebo and you are entering a new chapter of your professional life, you must have had some sentimental moments. What do you look back on as your proudest moment with Seebo?
It’s not about a single moment but about the people. In 2018 we had a very major pivot in our business. It was very challenging. But we did it. And happily, our new direction of process-based industrial AI did very well. In the end, it was worth the sacrifice. But it was difficult, and I’m very, very proud that we were able to not only survive, but also to thrive. And looking back, I’m most proud of the people that agreed to join our journey. It’s our biggest achievement and asset. At some point, you realize that if you are able to bring the right people on the bus, all problems will be solved. It’s my biggest pride and joy to work every day with these talented, creative and ambitious people.
What do you feel you achieved with Seebo?
We are able to provide an AI-based software solution to help manufacturers with optimization of waste, quality, yield and emission challenges. And we’ve been able to do this by connecting the existing sensors on the lines and connecting these to our server where our solution, which automatically learns and relearns the production line again and again. In the process, we provide actionable insights to the manufacturing team to help them optimize their production processes. And here is where we stand out: we are not a tool for data scientists or software developers, it’s an intuitive tool for those on the floor – mainly the process engineers and operators.
Solving Real Problems
And this pragmatic approach is an area that aligned Seebo nicely with Augury…
Exactly. At the core, we are both not just offering another technology, AI app, platform or whatever. We both offer a solution to a painful problem – keeping those production lines running and optimized. And this solving-a-real-problem-approach is a very prominent part of the DNA of both companies. In fact, we target the same companies and in some cases are already both installed on the same production lines – and this will only increase in the future.
1 + 1 = 3
What does it now mean for you that Process Health and Machine Health are coming together?
The deal is still very fresh so we are still offering our separate products. But we also realize the value of the synergy between these two products – that 1+1=3. Once we unify into an overall product, we will do each of our jobs much, much better. For instance, with Seebo, we are able to explain why a quality, yield and emissions problem happens based on only a partial understanding of the line. Yes, we are connected with many sensors, but we were never able to really understand the mechanics of the assets on the line. Now that we are able to get the Augury insights, we can explain how the mechanics relate to quality, yield and emissions. We will be able to explain much better why a quality/yield/waste/emissions problem happened. And we can solve it much more successfully. Because we also have this visibility into the mechanics of the assets. So, it’s a very dramatic improvement in our ability to do our job.
And it goes the other way too: Process Health improves Machine Health…
With Machine Health, we are able to warn the user before an asset is going to fail – so our customers can take pre-emptive action, like replacing a part. Now we’ll also be able to suggest new process settings, which may for example slow the problem so you have more time to fix it. So, it’s also a much stronger value proposition for Machine Health.
Basically, we will have two ways to solve maintenance challenges – may it be through a corrective action like replacing a part, or by changing the process settings. And I believe this means that soon it will be very clear that there is no point in having a Machine Health solution without a Process Health solution – the value of having both is just too great.
A Limitless Future
And over time, that value will only grow as more data is looped in…
Absolutely, with more data, our algorithms will run more accurately. Look at Google: it was the best search engine 20 years or so ago and it’s still getting better and better every month. And I think it’s going to be the same with manufacturing AI for which Augury is the global leader. We will continue to improve it and widen the gap from potential competitors for many years to come. We’ll be able to innovate by looping in other input sources. Eventually we will also have data from cameras, texts and voices via NLP, the plant’s electricity infrastructure, etcetera.
What has the response been from your clients?
We get very, very positive feedback from our clients. In fact, we just signed a new joint offering with an American food company. They realize that they can get a holistic view into their production and thereby optimize their production based on dynamic business needs. Manufacturers all want the highest possible throughput with the best possible yields, while using less raw materials and energy, and releasing the least amount of pollution and requiring the least amount of maintenance. But these variables are often in conflict with each other – you can’t have it all. If you want to optimize throughput, you will use more energy and thereby have more emissions.
So, it’s always conflicting. But with Augury, you’ll be able to tune these variables to your needs. So, if energy prices go up because of the war in Ukraine, you can maybe sacrifice your throughput quality and increase your maintenance costs as long as you use less energy. And it’s these sorts of opportunities that are getting our clients excited.
No More Compromise
What’s the most important thing people should know – especially your current clients?
That the problems that have existed for decades are not a given. That you no longer have to accept a certain percentage of waste, stop a line for days for maintenance, or make unnecessary compromises for yield. If they now learn to use data in the right way, they can dramatically improve their business and bottom line.