30 Great Places to Work 2019


Bright Machines: The AI wave in factory automation

 “Built for the future”

The world is essentially moving towards automation that is powered by software that drives hardware, Anything from Amazon’s Alexa to Tesla’s cars are examples of that. Although the terminology differs they are all founded on the same principle, software that can manage individual hardware systems.

When it comes to manufacturing industries, there’s a common misconception that they are en route to automation, but when people are talking about automation in manufacturing, they’re actually talking about hardware=defined manufacturing which involves individual pieces of equipment designed, tuned and deployed to perform one task repetitively that results in low flexibility.

One of the main disadvantages of this method is that there is no data involved in the process which means that there is no scope for improvement which is the exact opposite of Software-defined manufacturing. Also, the hardware is highly complex which ends up with reduces productivity because constant human involvement is necessary for smooth functioning which results in a lack of speed to market and production lines sitting idle.

Imagine software that runs through all your manufacturing processes, right from building, to assembly to testing. That is what Software-Defined Manufacturing is all about and that is exactly what the San-Francisco based company “Bright Machines” is trying to implement.

Rise of Machines

For any industry to gain maximum output, there should be stabilization and it is the same with manufacturers. Bright Machines aims to deliver just that. The company operates by eliminating unwanted complications that manufacturers face every day like reducing time to reach the market, wear and tear of equipment, and above all a promise of better quality.

Bright Machines was founded in 2018, as a stealth startup by a group of veterans under the name AutoLabs AI. The company put up an A-team by picking the brightest minds from applied science, software, robotics and more. When these minds collaborate they bring together machine learning, computer vision and configurable robotic cells which enables intelligent assembly.

Within a year, the company has booked about $100M in revenue with customers in both the automotive and electronics industry. Bright Machines is picking up the pace by building its products and increasing the employee count to 400. The investments pouring into the company have reached $229M which is valued around 679 M according to Pitchbook (a data research company).

When Hardware meets Software

Recently Bright Machines was listed #13 in the Forbes AI 50, so what does this one-year-old company have that can disrupt the manufacturing industry?

The short answer is Bright Machines Microfactories, which combines software, machine learning, computer vision, and adaptive robotics into an automation platform. Simply put it is an amalgamation of hardware and software that tackles the assembly and inspection problems at the back end of most factory lines. The Microfactories make use of artificial intelligence and a cloud-based architecture to deliver improved assembly efficiencies that continually become more intelligent and automated.

The Bright Machines Microfactory includes cloud-based software called Brightware and a hardware called Bright Robotic Cells which is based on adaptive robotics technology. Users can instruct the software to build a custom product that it then conveys to the machine and the hardware can be easily plugged together like Lego pieces to create a custom assembly line to manufacture. 

Need for Microfactories

Globalization helped in connecting worlds. Corporations have set up factories across the globe to improve productivity and reduce labor costs. This has worked out well in the past decades, but with a consistent increase in the demand for customized products, corporations are looking for a method to localize manufacturing setups to meet the growing demand.

This is where Microfactories come in with automation that can lower costs and improve efficiency as it can reduce expensive human labor and consistent product quality, which essentially means any blooming entrepreneur who has an idea to build a product can do that without waiting for a huge investment. Thus the cost of innovation drops drastically and that's what Microfactories aim to implement in the coming years.

Man behind BM

Amar Hanspal founded Bright Machines in 2018 along with several other industry veterans to automate factories across the world. Amar has about 30+ experience and has handled both business and technology. Before founding Bright Machines, Amar was Chief Product Officer at Autodesk where he oversaw the entire software portfolio including manufacturing and construction applications. It was under his leadership Autodesk transformed its on-premise product portfolio to cloud and it's business model from perpetual licenses to subscription. Amar has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Bombay University, a master’s in the same discipline from State University New York and has also completed the executive managerial program at Stanford University.

When intelligence is transferred from hardware to software, things change – for the better.