This quote perfectly encapsulates the story of Benjamin Schrauwen and Samir Hanna, the early champions of smart manufacturing processes—who believed in their problem-solving attribute to pave the way for better production environments. While working as senior executives in the manufacturing division of renowned 3D design software company, Autodesk, both Schrauwen and Hanna witnessed a common problem that existed in most manufacturing environments. There was a huge divide between different manufacturing hardware and the software that were used to program the equipment in the production environments. “Historically, businesses needed to configure different pieces of software to run different types of machinery on a production floor, and this siloed approach made manufacturing processes labor-intensive and time-consuming. This rift between production environments and tools also led to a relatively slower rate of new product introduction and inefficient use of equipment,” comments Schrauwen.
Understanding these impediments of manufacturers and believing that there’s always a better way, Schrauwen and Hanna envisioned a manufacturing operating platform that would automate the entire manufacturing process and save weeks of programming time and engineering overheads for any entity involved in the manufacturing process. “The culmination of decades of development in the cloud, artificial intelligence, sensors, robotics, and additive manufacturing, in this regard, can unlock the door to connected and adaptive factories,” notes Schrauwen. With this notion, Schrauwen and Hanna set out to create an AI-driven factory operating platform that deeply integrates engineering software with manufacturing hardware. By leveraging their years of experience in the computer-aided design (CAD) space and robotics, the duo brought their vision to fruition with Oqton—a company that delivers a completely new approach to manufacturing.
“At Oqton, we leverage modern AI techniques to maximize the utilization of the manufacturing equipment and rapidly introduce new products on the production floor,” underscores Schrauwen, CEO of Oqton. The company helps businesses in not only tracking the production environment but also driving and programming those equipment, CNC machines, robots, and 3D printers in a completely integrated manner. “Our core mission is to make autonomous manufacturing accessible to companies of all sizes, enabling continuous flexibility and adaptability of manufacturing processes,” Schrauwen further highlights.
Oqton’s eponymous cloud-based IoT platform enables just that. It is both hardware and software agnostic and can be easily integrated with any enterprise resource planning (ERP), product lifecycle management (PLM), or manufacturing execution system (MES) systems being used on the production floor. The platform can, therefore, facilitate planning, scheduling, and logistics functions to help manufacturing companies make more informed decisions—right from the initial design phase through to the post-processing stage of the manufactured products. Moreover, Oqton leverages AI to automate, simplify, and streamline the repetitive manual programming of manufacturing machines. The CEO explains that because of such technological augmentation, the Oqton platform can even track the performance of all connected machines, and in case of any anticipated machine downtime, the scheduling algorithm of the platform can automatically reassign work to other available machines, thereby minimizing any interruption to the production workflow.
One Production System for Different Industries
At Oqton, we leverage modern AI techniques to maximize the utilization of the manufacturing equipment and rapidly introduce new products on the production floor
Oqton’s platform caters to a multitude of industries and use cases, including medical, aerospace, and identification and inspection, assisting professionals like dental prosthetics manufacturers, additive manufacturers, robotic welders, and jewelry makers, to bring forth a true manufacturing revolution. For dental prosthetics manufacturers, particularly, the Oqton platform has opened a new horizon. These entities can now connect all their additive manufacturing processes in one single platform and operate more effectively. The Oqton platform can even enable dental prosthetic manufacturers to schedule, track, and trace all actions of a dental lab environment. Additionally, the platform’s custom dashboards, reports, and alerts are accessible from anywhere on any device. Similarly, robotic welders can use the Oqton platform to configure different robotic solutions from a centralized platform. “For our robotic welding clients, we are able to take down the programming time from three weeks to just 30 minutes,” says Schrauwen proudly.
Nevertheless, the crucial role that Oqton plays in fulfilling its clients’ manufacturing needs can be best explained through a case study. A small Chicago-based 3D printing company was facing design and production challenges as their equipment was not well connected with each other, resulting in productivity loss. When the client implemented the Oqton platform, the connectivity between factory equipment improved significantly, which opened the doors for complete automation of their manufacturing process. “With the help of our Oqton platform, the client easily scaled up their operations with 50 3D printers in just two years,” says Ellen Van de Woestijne, CMO of Oqton. Satisfied with the extraordinary results Oqton’s client got, they said, “The tools that Oqton is building are absolutely going to become a standard for this kind of mass production of colored parts.”
Committed to transforming the manufacturing space with many similar success stories, Oqton is now laser-focused on maintaining its status as a trailblazer in its domain of expertise. The company is also simultaneously looking at some significant partnerships with large device manufacturers and CNC machine OEMs. “These collaborations will help us offer our platform to our partners’ customers directly, which, in turn, will allow us to keep growing and expanding in the domain,” adds Schrauwen. Besides, Oqton is all set to cement its foothold in new markets and industries over the next couple of years. “The coming months will be all about expansion for Oqton. We are looking forward to penetrating different market verticals by tailoring our product based on clients’ needs,” concludes Schrauwen.