LOS ALTOS, Calif.—Instrumental, Inc., has launched a new system that leverages machine learning to help electronics companies improve manufacturing, identify and fix problems faster, and ship on time. Consisting of camera-equipped inspection stations that are both precise and easy to install, the system empowers companies to remotely manage product lines, maximizing up-time, quality, and speed.
Instrumental, backed by Eclipse Ventures, First Round Capital, and Root Ventures, is out to solve a significant problem: Hardware teams at electronics companies often spend weeks and even months overseas on the manufacturing floor, working to find and fix issues that impact consumer products. It’s a manual process that causes significant delays and can cost companies $6 million or more per day when assembly lines are down. Instrumental’s technology is designed to eliminate these issues more efficiently than a team of people can.
“After spending hundreds of days at manufacturers responsible for millions of Apple products, we have a deep understanding of the inefficiencies in the new product development process,” said Instrumental CEO and Co-founder Anna-Katrina Shedletsky, who spent six years working at Apple prior to founding the company, in a press release. “There’s no going back; robotics and automation have already changed manufacturing. Intelligence like the kind we are building at Instrumental will change it again. We can radically improve how companies make products today and we hope to soon fundamentally change manufacturing as a whole.”
Instrumental combines easy-to-deploy hardware and software that takes images of each unit at key states of assembly on the line and makes those images remotely searchable and comparable. It then learns and reacts to assembly line data so that engineers can take action on issues.
Instrumental (www.Instrumental.com) said that its customers, including Fortune 500 companies, have used the system to virtually disassemble 16,000 units and to take more than 40,000 measurements, all remotely. Multiple customers are reported to have saved more than $350,000 in the first several months by using Instrumental to respond to issues with agility. By empowering them to identify the root causes of issues in minutes, and restart lines hours or days faster, the company has helped them put higher quality products in the hands of their customers sooner.
The new machine-learning “Detect” feature highlights units that appear defective, giving customers a significant edge in resolving product issues, Instrumental said in the release. Engineers can use Detect in combination with Instrumental’s other software tools to identify an issue and then take the next step by virtually disassembling concerning units and even taking measurements to understand what is wrong. These remote and on-demand first pass failure analysis tools are said to save significant time and communication between companies and the factories that make their products.
Instrumental Detect automatically processes hundreds of units and identifies the most interesting issues in seconds, the company said. In the coming months, Instrumental will begin alerting engineers directly when it discovers anomalous units.
“Outsourced manufacturing has produced significant benefits for the electronics industry; however, the lack of visibility and control often results in extended and expensive delays,” said Lior Susan, managing partner at Eclipse Ventures and former manufacturing executive at Flextronics. “Instrumental’s suite of products vastly improves efficiency via remote analysis functionality. Furthermore, by incorporating information garnered by the latest data-generating, automation factory solutions, Instrumental can build the closed-loop feedback system required to deliver on the promise of the factory of the future.”