Overview’s visual inspection system pairs software with off-the-shelf camera equipment to track and eliminate defects in real time, the company says

February 17, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO— The U.S. manufacturing industry accounted for approximately $2.3 trillion of output in 2019, or roughly 11 percent of the country’s GDP. But despite the industry’s significant economic impact, manufacturers continue to be dogged by the inefficiencies of wasted material, labor inspection costs, and engineering challenges associated with product defects.

According to a release from Overview, Inc., mistakes resulting from poor manual inspection processes are estimated to cost more than $300 billion per year.  Overview, a manufacturing automation company founded by former Tesla engineers, is seeking to mitigate these costs by using artificial intelligence (AI) to transform the way quality control works.

The company interfaces with existing factory lines, pairing software with off-the-shelf camera equipment to identify, track, and eliminate defects in real-time. Overview leverages proprietary deep learning technology to offer what it describes as “extremely accurate inspection systems that reduce waste at a fraction of the cost relative to alternative solutions.”

While overseeing the development of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Reno, Nevada, Overview founders Chris Van Dyke and Austin Appel found that the data they needed to build products and processes was often difficult to come by. There appeared to be no good way to capture and analyze the millions of processes on Tesla’s production floor to reduce errors or prevent downtime. Van Dyke and Appel founded Overview to solve this challenge and bring what they called “scalable, AI-based visual inspection systems to any factory line,” according to the release.

Historically, only the biggest, deep-pocketed manufacturers could apply visual inspection platforms to their factories. Overview is seeking to level the playing field with its Snap Platform, a cloud-native computer vision technology that handles everything from device management to algorithm development, the company said in the release.

Unlike traditional systems that require specialized cameras and highly trained personnel, Overview said it manages its software on the back-end, combining it with off-the-shelf hardware to reduce the complexity and cost that can inhibit a manufacturer’s ability to automate manual inspection processes.

Geoff Lefeber, vice president of operations at MPE Inc., a design and device manufacturing partner to healthcare and technology OEMs, said that implementing Overview has been a game-changer for the company.

“The Snap Platform’s implementation of robust AI and software have eliminated the complexity of finding good and bad parts, leading to zero defects in the manufacturing process. Their solution is extremely accurate, cost-effective, and built to scale alongside our operations,” Lefeber said in the release. “Overview’s solutions have allowed us to deploy quality control solutions that were, for a variety of reasons, previously inaccessible to us, and we couldn’t be happier with their engineering and customer support.”

Overview recently landed $10 million in Series A funding to help manufacturing customers identify and eliminate defects on the production line. The funding round was led by Blumberg Capital and new investors GV and Momenta. Bain capital was among the existing investors that also participated.

“Global competition, supply chain issues, and inflation pressures are challenging large and small manufacturers across all industries to investigate new technology solutions,” said Chris Van Dyke, CEO and co-founder of Overview, in the release. “Investing in improving the equally complex and delicate manufacturing ecosystem couldn’t come at a better time. We want to make it easier for manufacturing operators and engineers to access really powerful technology that will help them make fewer mistakes, mitigate financial loss, and ultimately, know that what they deliver to end customer[s] meets or exceeds the quality specifications they expect.”

“We are excited to partner with co-founders Chris, Austin, Russell, and the Overview team who bring deep experience helping Tesla innovate and build the first Gigafactory,” said Stanton Green, senior director at Blumberg Capital, in the release. “Just as Tesla created an entirely new electric vehicle industry using automation and advanced AI, we see parallels for revolutionizing manufacturing across all industries with software-led inspection systems. Overview has the potential to be the end-to-end platform that automates quality control workflow for any factory.”

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