In this edition, we meet Smartia Ltd, and hear from CEO & Co-Founder Dr Mauro Arruda, following its launch.
Tell us about Smartia…
In short, Smartia helps organisations with their digital transformation. We are a technology consultancy and software company that works with organisations to evaluate and implement the potential use of Industry 4.0 technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is achieved through the Smartia software platform (Cortex) that creates the ability to go from the machine to the software layer, whilst enabling management and storage of data collected. We work with organisations to understand how best to gather, digest and apply data internally and externally to create value.
How did Smartia form?
We launched Smartia in January 2018, though the plans were in place well before this. We all met through personal connections and former colleagues. The team has a shared vision of how digital transformation can bring significant value to the marketplace, and to manufacturing and engineering where we are presently focused. The CCO and Co-Founder, Asim Majid has a background in simulation software, data platforms and digital twin technologies. The platform and software development is managed by our solutions architect, Dr Huw Jones, who has a background in data management systems from working in the Pharmaceutical and Biotech industries. Dr Darius Foster, our Data Scientist, possesses the skills and experience in machine learning, AI, automation and robotics. We also have a very experienced CEO/CTO of a large software company on our board and he provides mentorship to the team.
What sets Smartia apart from competitors?
The Smartia team and how we approach our clients’ requirements sets us apart. Our team has the diverse set of skills and experience required to understand, implement and successfully grow a business in the digital transformation area. It has a common vision to help companies find value from AI through the combination of robotics, automation and engineering experience combined with a data science mindset. The Smartia approach to any customer requirement is initially to understand the issues and strategy the client has, develop solutions based on their current set up, review the feasibility of the proposals and select a pilot project that demonstrates the value at a minimum cost to their business. Smartia has a “Think big, start small and scale fast “philosophy.
Who are the organisations that Smartia works with?
Smartia’s target market includes manufacturers of products that have a high level of automation in their manufacturing process, and are generating lots of interesting information. Our customers are SMEs to large OEMs who want to move onto the next step in terms of digital transformation. They are companies that want to apply cutting edge technologies, paving the way for other companies to follow in their steps.
With regards to the industries we work with, the manufacturing and engineering sectors are where we are focused presently. When looking at Industry 4.0, manufacturing and engineering industries appear to be behind in terms of adopting new technologies such as AI. They are at the stage of understanding the potential gains to be achieved in productivity or operational cost. The reason they are behind is due to the complexity of automation in the robotics systems they use, and this is where we work with them through our consultancy services.
Other industries of interest include utilities, energy, food processing and pharmaceuticals, basically any company that has automated systems with very high volumes of production, where downtime can be costly. These are the types of industries that can benefit from Industry 4.0 technologies via predictive failure and maintenance which reduces the cost of unexpected stoppages. These are the types of companies we can help.
What is your vision for Smartia in the future?
Currently Smartia provides technology consultancy expertise, and develops software products to support these activities. Moving into the future, we are aiming to develop a range of off the shelf software products. We want to develop verified and validated technology and make it available to organisations to implement their own bespoke software infrastructures. This includes connecting to instrumentation, a platform for data collection and management, using applications that support automation, and decision making using machine learning and AI. We are aiming to launch the first commercially available software in the next 2 years.
What trends do you predict?
For a lot of companies, the next two years will be about focusing on data flows, because this is the first step on the journey to digital transformation. It starts with capturing data, focusing on how it can be captured, managed, accessed and stored. While this is progressing, applications for data can be explored and this is where AI will come into effect. There are some great people out there doing a lot of fantastic research in developing new AI models. Andrew Ng, from Coursera and previously Google, recently said “guys - stop developing models for AI and start applying them to real world problems”. As you continue to collect data, going forward there should be a big focus on finding applications for the data and applying the models.
What is your advice to companies who are looking to start their digital transformation?
Think big! Think about how you want your factory or company to operate if it had no constraints. Where do you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years time? How do you want your manufacturing process to work? Start small! Look at tangible milestones which could work for you. Look at what you need to achieve to realise your overarching vision and create small steps to get there. Look at your data, and its collection. Start evaluating as many applications as possible. Ask the question; can I apply AI to this aspect of my business, and if so will it add value? Try small applications of AI technology, because when you find what works it will become easier to propose a business model that allows you to not only scale up but scale fast! Companies should ensure they work with a partner who shares their company vision, one that understands and will guide them through their digital transformation journey finding value throughout.