The future of industrial work is clear!!! It requires highly autonomous factories with faster and defect free production lines and a smart warehouse, allowing for rapid production and distribution of products. It will also require a highly-skilled workforce that knows how to use and operate cutting-edge technology.
Clearly, this represents a number of changes to what has been a fairly traditional sector. Revolutionizing Machine Vision can help the manufacturing industry bring about those changes quickly and smoothly to their quality assurance process.
Ravishankar Rajagopalan – was born in the temple town of Srirangam, an island located in Tiruchirappalli or Trichy in Tamil Nadu. After finishing school, he did his Bachelors in Mech. Engg. in Thanjavur (Tanjore) before he travelled overseas to do Masters in Industrial Engineering at the University of Alabama and a subsequent Ph.D. in the same field at The Ohio State University. During this time he was exposed to using Artificial Intelligence to optimize Manufacturing processes. Ravi’s wife Savitha is a strong supporter of what he does, and they’re blessed with a 4-year-old son.
Ravi was fascinated with manufacturing and building machines even before his early days as an engineering student. Interestingly, he was one of the few students in his college who took Mech. Engg. because he actually wanted to! That passion has paid off in spades – today, he has nearly 10 years of experience in the manufacturing sector and feel a deep sense of belonging.
The seed of the idea for his first Machine Vision product, augurai, was born after one of his visits to an auto parts manufacturing facility in Chennai, where he realized that Indian companies still relied heavily on foreign or imported technology for quality inspection in the manufacturing sector. There was definitely a need for an indigenous product that offered the same or better results, and Ravi decided to develop one for the local market. In short, by the people and for the people.
“augurai” is a complete Machine Vision solution for defect detection in any manufacturing or assembly line scenario. It comprises of Special Purpose Machines or SPMs, Optics (including cameras, lenses, and lighting), and Computer Vision algorithms. augurai is intended as a line of plug-and-play systems, of which the first product is India’s first indigenous internal inspection machine. Ravi and his team are currently in discussion with several clients in manufacturing and pharma to deploy augurai.
Making an impact
Ravi said that he loves solving business problems using AI, and becoming an entrepreneur gave him the autonomy the he needed to make a real positive impact on the manufacturing industry. Of course, being an entrepreneur entails having greater responsibilities than being an employee, but that is exactly what helped shape him into a better person.
So far augurai have not raised any external funding and it is completely bootstrapped. Ravi’s first venture, CourseBricks, was launched in 2020, and they have helped several clients with their needs in Data Science and AI, particularly in the domains of Computer Vision and the Internet of Things or IoT. The profits generated by CourseBricks became the fund corpus they needed in order to develop augurai.
Ravi says the biggest challenge was to find the right mix of skills required to implement a complete Machine Vision solution. It required much more than just software development skills and assembling the right team took them time. It was also a challenge to find reliable partners to collaborate with. For instance, the right partners for optics, automation, web development, design and content only came along after a lot of trial and error, but their core team is now well-established and working like “a machine with vision”!
The Best, Most Awesome Team in the Land! Ever since the first venture, Ravi has been blessed with a great team of engineers who have helped crack the toughest of problems and build a great product in a very short span of time.
“Decided to quit a high-paying corporate job and strike out on my own. It was a tumultuous time, but Savitha, who is also a partner in my ventures, played a key role in both ventures and has been very supportive of my decision from the moment it was made” said, Dr. Ravishankar Rajagopalan.
Current startup structure
augurai is still a pretty young team of around 12 engineers working on various client engagements and research projects. Although solving problems for manufacturing clients is augurai’s primary focus, they invest heavily into research and Intellectual Property. Whether it’s the latest cameras, the most appropriate lenses, or continuously fine-tuning the algorithms, augurai is constantly looking at how to leverage new tech and IP to enhance their problem-solving capabilities for their clients.
The augurai solution can be integrated into any system where quality problems persist, but their current focus is on companies operating in the automotive, pharmaceutical, medical devices, and logistics segments. In reality, many of augurai solutions are industry-agnostic, but this is primarily where strong demand has been coming from.
“There’s never a dull day at augurai!”
Question to the manufacturing industry
Why invest in foreign technology when the best vision-based QA solutions are now available in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu? augurai is looking forward to collaborating with manufacturers across India who want an indigenous QA solution to optimize their profitability and grow their top line.
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