With Ontario's educational centres producing high-calibre engineers and the government providing significant funding support, we have the resources to capture a significant share of North America's $16-billion-dollar artificial intelligence (AI) market.
Martin Cloake, CEO, Raven Telemetry AI

An aggressive goal for a young 20-person company. But Martin Cloake, CEO of Ottawa, Ontario-based Raven Telemetry AI, has seen what AI can do for the manufacturing industry. To fill a void in a burgeoning market, he has devised a powerful, user-friendly solution that makes sense of big data: it collects data from the machine, analyzes it in real time and documents the data for the manufacturers. "Like a GPS system, our product interprets masses of raw data in real time and sends it to process 'drivers'—shop-floor supervisors and operators, delivering directions they can act on," he says. "This accelerates decision-making, problem-solving and production."

According to Cloake, North Americans spend one-third of their time manipulating data but do not use it effectively. In one job before launching Raven in 2013, he managed 50 operators on the shop floor of a Montreal-based window coverings manufacturer. His responsibilities included analyzing data flowing in from different processes, but this proved untenable: manually digging deep into the data took up most of his time and limited his interactions with employees.

Before AI solutions like Raven's came along, traditional tools such as Excel and manufacturing management software were used. They collect performance numbers in enormous files and present those numbers in graphs and charts that require engineering expertise to first interpret before getting usable intelligence. When he tried to save time by feeding raw data via dashboards directly to the shop floor, Cloake found that operators did not use it, since it didn't provide meaningful suggestions for their operations. "That would be like a GPS giving you charts and graphs that describe why you're late, rather than actually giving you the directions you need to get where you're going," he explains. "But both use the same data set."

The combined power of people and machines

Cloake foresees that, within the next five years, the adoption of disruptive AI solutions will be in full swing. "AI will identify problems and opportunities, feed the data to the cloud and make production decisions in real time," he says. "To start manufacturers on this path, our product yields value quickly by interpreting and sending actionable data to plant managers."

Raven's industrial AI management solution boosts production capabilities by leveraging data science and human feedback. "Our product crunches the data then provides simple direction for shop floor operators to act on," he says. "By monitoring processes, it quickly detects anomalies in the system that could be problems – or identifies areas that could contribute improvements." He emphasizes that the process gathers input from both people and machines, and that the combined data is extremely powerful.

"One of our clients increased overall equipment efficiency (OEE) by almost 15% in six months," he says. "This resulted in close to $4 million in additional output per year using the same people and the same machine."

Ontario: brain food for AI

One major business boost for Cloake as he nurtured his fledgling company was the Ottawa networking group, Fresh Founders. This group was invaluable in finding investors and resources, exchanging important information and meeting his co-founders, Andrew Blanchard and Braden Stenning. Their expertise complements Cloake's with data science, robotics, machine learning, leadership development and capability-building.

Raven's current clients include Washington, D.C.-based Danaher and Cambridge, Ontario-based Schneider Electric. According to Cloake, his company's potential customer base is more than 100,000 large manufacturers across North America.

"We believe that the market for our type of service will only grow from here, so in a few years' time there will likely be a multi-billion-dollar company in this space." And Cloake believes that, with the talent and support at his fingertips in Ontario, that company could be Raven.

July 19, 2017

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