We talked to Ryan Gamble, founder, and president at Intraratio, about smart manufacturing, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your employees doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ryan Gamble: Very well. Everyone has been able to work remotely and stay safe. And we have all maintained high levels of productivity and contribution to our success. I’m extremely grateful. At the start of the pandemic, we faced big challenges as many did around the globe. Luckily, we are a purely SaaS business and most, if not all, of our day-to-day operations, can be completed remotely. Our solutions are cloud-based, which allowed seamless continuity in support for customers. And we successfully completed new customer deployments across globally distributed factories, within the US, China, and Mexico, without leaving the comfort of our homes.
Tell us about you, your career, and why you founded Intraratio?
Ryan Gamble: At the start of my career in advanced semiconductor manufacturing, I was having to analyze complex and voluminous amounts of data, from quality and reliability test data, down to atomic level process measurements associated with making a microchip.
Industry data silos were a barrier, with no clear means of associating data from one system to another. As is the case for most manufacturers today. It required hours and days of manual data aggregating, cleaning, and cataloging before you could start any meaningful analysis. This drove me to write my own software tools to break these barriers and automate out the repeated daily analysis and decision points. In essence, I was automating my own job. Out of that process, I arrived at concepts and created components to a system that would eventually serve to manage some of the most complex supply chain traceability requirements in the world.
How does Intraratio provide innovation to the manufacturing industry?
Ryan Gamble: Our platform is one of the only kinds in the world that can completely manage factory operations, as well as capture data from all suppliers, assembly machines, tester systems, and IoT devices involved. Regardless of whether your manufacturing is locally based, or comprises factories and suppliers spread across the globe. With the ease of use, adaptability, and near-seamless ability to integrate with anything that connects to the network, it is deployable within a few weeks, to completely automate repeated tasks. Enabling AI/ML is now taking it to a completely new level.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Ryan Gamble: As with any startup founder, I carry some scars from difficult HR decisions. But mine are luckily very minor, a product of treating everyone as an equal human, first and foremost. The main lessons I learned quickly was, to be honest upfront, with empathy, if things aren’t working. And to hire people who are very good at what they do, who want to make a difference, and have deep passions for things beyond just work. From music to motorcycle riding, to rock climbing, to art, to surfing, anything. These passions drive creativity across all facets of our work. And it is wonderful to share in. I studied Jazz percussion before I decided to be an engineer.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Ryan Gamble: This has evolved into a systematic approach, with the elements of personalized, focused support and engagement. We ended up building our own CRM tools in-house. Existing solutions were too bloated for what we needed, trying to be all things for all kinds of different customers. Luckily we have formidable software development experience. For marketing outreach, we use the benchmarks out there, such as Mailchimp and Vimeo. We are big on video as a tool to get the message out in an elegant and informative way.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Ryan Gamble: When manufacturing was retrenching, and in some cases shutting down due to COVID-19, our pipeline ground to a halt. So do not lose any staff, we cut operational expenses down to near nothing, and took advantage of the PPP loan program. This helped us continue to operate with full staffing levels. After a couple of quarters, there was a major rebound in advanced manufacturing, specifically data center infrastructure, silicon photonics, medical diagnostics (one of our customers now makes COVID antibody test kits), and advanced automotive / EV systems. And these are the industries we are in, so we were well-positioned to survive.
Your final thoughts on the future of digitization in manufacturing after the Covid-19 pandemic?
Ryan Gamble: Any electronics or medical device manufacturer not undertaking a digital transformation effort in the immediate term is not going to survive for very long. Period. We have seen our customers gain increased market share during this COVID-19 period, capturing higher margin product lines while reducing costs, thanks to digitization. Low-margin bulk product lines, such as cable assemblies, will maintain a hold for now but the traceability requirements demanded by the market mean they will lose out to competitors who have digitized. It’s an exciting time for Intraratio, to be an underpinning of the new manufacturing digitization revolution that is firmly underway.
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