In January 2015, we made our initial investment in Sight Machine, an emerging leader in manufacturing analytics. We led Sight Machine’s Series A preferred round of financing with co-investment from existing investors IA Ventures and OATV, and new investors Huron River Ventures among others. Sight Machine was founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has established operations in San Francisco and Livonia, MI. The Company is delivering an end-to-end manufacturing analytics platform to the world’s largest companies. Sight Machine’s first enterprise customers include Fortune 50 companies in the automotive and apparel industries. These firms are singing the Company’s praises, realizing game-changing ROI in the earliest stages of deployment.
Sight Machine is a great midcontinent startup growth story – one that Mercury sees quite often. Highly innovative middle America startup, based on real technology with solid intellectual property, that opens up a secondary office to mitigate talent and funding risk. In this case, Sight Machine expanded to San Francisco, where co-founder and CEO Jon Sobel calls home. During diligence, Mercury discovered that despite Sight Machine’s impressive roster of data science, machine learning, full stack, and big data developers, they have yet to use a retained search firm. That’s because talent is flowing into the company – from many of the other consumer-facing “Unicorns” in the City and Silicon Valley. Sight Machine has found that many bright, accomplished engineers and scientists want to join a company that’s solving real enterprise problems, and providing real benefits to one of the backbones of the U.S. economy – our onshore manufacturing industry.
Sight Machine is also an exciting deal to Mercury as it is the first investment in our Intelligent Manufacturing theme. This theme revolves around the Industrial Internet, which is revolutionizing manufacturing as we know it. Mercury views the Industrial Internet as the convergence of Enterprise Cloud Computing, Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT). We believe the next great winners in manufacturing are those that learn to embrace and leverage the Industrial Internet as a core differentiator.
However, there are significant challenges to the adoption of Industrial Internet technology. Lack of interoperability is the most significant concern. Walk into any plant, and you are likely to find a hodge-podge of disparate sensors, software and control systems all working independently without connection or overarching intelligence across the manufacturing line. We believe Sight Machine is the platform that will connect a plant’s disparate devices and software systems, and provide the intelligence layer to improve overall equipment efficiency.
Solving Modern Manufacturing Challenges
Modern manufacturers have two dominant challenges. The first is efficiency; the understanding, managing and controlling the thousands of variables that affect your process. The second is quality – ensuring the things being produced are good.
Every manufacturer will say these two challenges are difficult. However, the answer to these challenges can be found (literally) on the shop floor! Every shop floor collects volumes of production data. It’s the data that every process, part, and plant generates, and it’s valuable. Until now, this data has been so varied and unwieldy that it’s mostly been unused. But with the maturing of technologies that power the Internet, we now have reliable ways to make this data useful.
Sight Machine’s core product, Manufacturing Analytics, takes the data manufacturers already generate, puts world class machine learning technology to work on it, and provides the necessary insight to control critical aspects of operations.
Collecting Every Type Of Data
Manufacturing data is difficult to work with. It is highly varied and raw. Part and process data can come from any number of sources, including: PLC’s, sensors, cameras, text, barcodes, audio files, and lab equipment. Sight Machine’s Manufacturing Analytics uses a plug-in architecture and API’s for data acquisition. This means the most common data sources are “plug and play” with the platform. Unique data types, such as outputs from homegrown MES and custom factory IT systems, can be efficiently integrated. Sight Machine’s scalable approach is fast, eliminates burden on internal IT teams, and assures you get the benefit of all the manufacturers’ data.
Powerful Manufacturing Analytics
Sight Machine’s Manufacturing Analytics applications provide insight on dozens of factory line aspects such as: part quality, process performance, root cause analysis, and predictive maintenance. But the heart of Sight Machine is its analytics – the ability to perform limitless transformations, calculations, and functions on a plant’s raw data. Sight Machine transforms raw data using dynamic models representing manufacturing processes and parts. The platform then continuously performs mathematical operations on the data with the same underlying technologies that power large internet operations, but with a data store built specifically for manufacturing.
An Exciting Road Ahead
As Sight Machine continues to gain momentum, we believe other next-gen intelligent manufacturing platforms will follow suit. Mercury is excited to have partnered with the Sight Machine team, IA Ventures and OATV in what has the potential of being the trailblazer of next-gen manufacturing software.
You can read more about our investment in Sight Machine here.