“Let’s start with an introduction. Who are you?
“My name is Raymond Leduc. I am the CEO of Numetrix Technologies, a Sherbrooke-based company that offers customized industrial vision and 3D surface inspection solutions assisted by artificial intelligence to improve quality control of assembly lines.
“Can you tell me about the company?
“Numetrix started 12 years ago. It was launched by two young founders, Simon Rodrigue and François Busque. Their goal was to develop and market industrial vision inspection solutions with software to interpret the results. However, at that time, there was no talk of artificial intelligence. We were talking about industrial vision which allows customers to implement solutions that will improve their product quality, reduce their costs, increase their productivity and allow them to better serve their customers. The founders launched some applications in the manufacturing field. Subsequently, approached by potential customers in the rubber market, they developed and marketed a truly revolutionary digital inspection tool, patented for both the device and the method. This allowed Numetrix to offer solutions since they could see black on black better than any other inspection system manufacturer. They could also inspect the parts while they were in motion. As we know, everything moves in the industrial world. There’s vibration, there’s movement, there’s handling, so being able to freeze the images and inspect them is a great advantage. The Numetrix team was approached by a tire manufacturer to make tire inspection more efficient. Thanks to this collaboration, Numetrix focused on the tire business. For five years now, Numetrix has been manufacturing and selling systems that allow tire manufacturers to inspect their first-cured tire, quickly validate quality and rapidly launch mass production. This tool allows them to improve the quality of their product, their productivity and increase daily output. It also allows them to avoid any marking errors that could cause recalls or difficulties with their customers. Marking is critical since tires are either destined for vehicle manufacturers, who are very demanding customers, or they are sent to the retail market. The tire market is highly regulated. Our technology allows our customers to market their tires knowing that they will meet the standards and avoid recalls.
“You said that in the early days of the business people didn’t talk about artificial intelligence. Does that mean that you have now integrated this technology?
“Yes. We spoke of algorithms 10 years ago. We were talking about a code to manage inspections. Today, we are incorporating artificial intelligence algorithms to allow our equipment and tools to see, read, understand, and learn. There are still a lot of inspection operations that use human-based inspection. However, the increasing use of artificial intelligence tools in our systems is making inspection more efficient. Human resources assigned to visual inspection tasks can be reassigned elsewhere. In a market where skills are scarce, our solution helps companies in this area as well.
“So you improve productivity, production turnaround times, production line flow, and significantly reduce downtime?
“Yes, this is one of the advantages of Numetrix. The team is very skilled in artificial intelligence, software and vision systems. Also we truly understand the manufacturing business. Personally, I worked for 35 years in the manufacturing world. I have had the privilege of leading teams at world-class manufacturing plants. We understand the customer’s requirements and deliver solutions that help them. They are not just inspection tools, they are tools that allow them to increase their productivity, improve their flexibility, provide them with digital files that they can share with their employees and customers. It gives our customers the information they need to improve their quality and productivity with the use of manufacturing 4.0 solutions.
“Let’s talk about industrialization 4.0 and even Industry 5.0. How does Numetrix fit into this movement?
“Our tool becomes part of their assembly line and, for our tire manufacturer customers, we provide a digital file of the very first production tire in a production run. This file is accessible through the database. The manufacturer can choose to share this information with their customers. It’s great to be able to tell your customer you’ve done the job right and have the data to prove it. Integrating AI to free up valuable people so they can be assigned to more value-added tasks is part of the Industry 5.0 philosophy.
“So you offer a competitive advantage to your customer.
“Our customer is the tire manufacturer, and yes, it gives them a competitive advantage, but it also gives our customer’s customers an advantage with the digital file. A digital record gives them the traceability of all the components of their product and they have the certainty that they have installed the right tires on that vehicle.
“How is Numetrix positioning itself in the industrial vision market at this time?
“We position ourselves in two ways. Our core market is the tire market. Our equipment is already used by the largest tire manufacturers in the world. We hope to sell our solution to all the major players in the industry. We are already established in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Europe. We can offer our services internationally. Whether in the automotive or consumer market, we are ready to offer our services to provide inspection solutions to anyone with complex problems. Moreover, the customers who have approached us so far have often tried to create inspection solutions themselves with more standard or off the shelf equipment without success. We are tackling that market. The complex market. The more complex it is, the more companies have failed with other solutions, the bigger the challenge, the more we like to take on that challenge.
“Would you say that you are an industry leader ?
“We do have a leadership position in the tire industry. Our biggest competitor in the market is the status quo. There are other companies that offer vision or inspection solutions, but what we hear is that their systems have a high error rate. So it’s not fully automated. In our market, what is important is what is called the alpha error rate, the false positives. If we want to replace human inspection, this work must be done in a way that is equal or superior to the work of a highly-trained human inspector. Our system doesn’t let any defects get through. Sometimes, the system can reject things that a human being, with his or her judgment and experience, would have found acceptable. Our system works like an experienced inspector: someone who understands the market and the customer’s ultimate need, someone who can detect anomalies and see differences. The goal of our systems is to improve quality, increase productivity and reduce costs. When we engage with customers on projects, we use the same approach. We want to develop tools for these customers that will allow them and us to grow stronger. We don’t want to simply replace someone and then be forced to do additional inspections to regain lost parts. We want to improve productivity and produce more good parts per day. That’s the difference we make.
“What do you offer that makes companies pick your solution over the competition ?
“This is a great question, because customers want to have solutions to improve their productivity. They have difficulty finding employees because of the shortage of skills. They want to allow their people to move from very repetitive and monotonous tasks to value-added positions. We help them do that. In fact, there isn’t a plant in the world that doesn’t have at least 5% to 10% of their people doing inspections all day long. We help free these people so they can do value-added work. Our systems allow us to collect data that may be difficult for people to retrieve and analyze, but which are essential for quality improvement. Indeed, several factors can affect the quality of a product, such as environmental conditions in the plant, vibration, or the effect of a prior process. Our tools give our customers digital data that they can use to understand why parts are out of specification, whether it’s the time of day, the shift or the conditions in the plant. Once again, we can link several possible error elements to improve productivity, quality and reduce costs.
“Do you supply complete systems or do you add them to existing assembly lines? In other words, how do you engage with customers?
“Simple answer: We do so according to the customer’s needs. There are engagements where we insert our solution into an existing tool or into an existing line with vision system and software. There are customers for which we develop a complete solution and we deploy complete solutions into their production flow.”
Contact us for more details on how Numetrix can help your business.