Baltimore — Prophecy Sensorlytics, Novatec Inc.'s equipment failure-predicting sensor company, now has commercial products available, and a new CEO — machinery veteran Steve Braig.
Braig has more than 25 years of plastics industry experience, including at injection press maker Engel Machinery Inc., microcellular foaming technology company Trexel Inc., and Automated Assemblies, Nypro Inc.'s robot company.
Braig said he was lured to 2-year-old Prophecy Sensorlytics for the chance to be on the ground floor of a brand-new area that could show explosive growth.
The sensor business is housed in a renovated building at Novatec, the auxiliary equipment maker in Baltimore. Prophecy Sensorlytics makes sensors that can measure variables on equipment, such as a pump or a dryer, and predict failure — after sending the data to the cloud.
“And then, we have very powerful software that provides the user with a prediction on how the component, or how the machine, behaves,” Braig said.
The system gives the user clear information that can go to a hand-held device, displayed on a dashboard-style graphic, with a red/yellow/green designation.
Novatec and Prophecy Sensorlytics hosted local government and economic development officials at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 10 at the sensor operation, across the street from Novatec's headquarters.
Novatec President and CEO Conrad Bessemer said the sensor company is still in the early stages, assembling a team to sell to processors, auxiliary equipment makers and suppliers of other machinery.
“This is a market that doesn't really exist today, so you've got to see where it sticks,” he said in a presentation to the local officials.
The company first is targeting the untapped mid-market industrial market, Bessemer said.
Braig, in an interview, spelled it out. Prophecy Sensorlytics developed its own system, under Biplab Pal, the co-founder and chief technology officer.
Other sensors cost thousands of dollars, which doesn't make sense for relatively low-cost auxiliary equipment like pumps and dryers. Nobody would invest that much for sensors on a small-ticket item, he said: You might as well buy a spare machine.
“That was part of our feature set that we have developed, keeping the cost in mind,” he said. “Our technology is in the hundreds-of-dollar range, not of the thousands-of-dollar range.”
With the Prophecy Sensorlytics products, you get a lot for not much the money, Braig said.
“So we can really look into the future, and the ultimate value to our customers is that they don't have unscheduled downtime of machinery,” he said. “And for that, we are unique. To our knowledge there's nobody else out there that has that higher range of technology that monitors conditions, sends it to the cloud, we analyze it. And then, we have very powerful software that provides the user with a prediction on how the component or how the machine behaves.”
Prophecy Sensorlytics is manufacturing its sensors and products in Baltimore, where it employs four people. Fifty people in India do research and development and create the software.
The sensors are covered by 14 patents. Pal, a sensor expert, said the patents mostly cover how Prophecy Sensorlytics connects seven different “layers” of technology so they work together to get what he called “meaningful and actionable intelligence.” The seven layers are: software, sensor hardware, sensor firmware, middleware, mobile app, sensor data analytics and the cloud.
The sensors measure things like changes in vibration of bearings in a pump or motor, analyzing if that means the oil is low or needs to be changed. Other measurements cover sound, pressure, temperature and the electromagnet field.
Novatec, which uses the sensors on its equipment, unveiled the basic Prophecy line at NPE 2015.
The Nov. 10 ribbon cutting marked the commercial launch of three products: MachineSense, PumpSense and ElectroSense.
ElectroSense monitors energy use, and can predict failure of the machine, as well as helping make sure power is distributed evenly throughout a manufacturing operation, the company said.
Braig said Prophecy Sensorlytics has five beta sites, all at plastics processors.
“We have a real robust technology. We have collected a lot of data, a lot of experience of having these beta sites out there. So now we're going to the market with a product that is really proven and tested,” he said.