“We have built an ecosystem for seamless collection, sharing, communication, and actionable use of quality control data, which had previously been impossible”
Since its inception in 2015, QCIFY has revolutionized quality control practices on a global scale by leveraging the latest technological trends to fully automate quality control frameworks within production plants. QCIFY brings both the technology and the software capabilities to make utmost use of the quality data. At its core, QCIFY provides a visual inspection system that duplicates how a person analyzes products— minus the human error. By leveraging machine learning and computer vision algorithms, the system does a full 3D inspection of every single object that goes through it on the fly. Each product sample has a digital fingerprint and is classified according to insertion rules that are in compliance with USDA regulations—something no other vision system in the industry can do. This allows plants to differentiate and classify products based on not just shape, but also things like depth and curvature measurements. The patent-pending technology and services can be used for quality control, processing line optimization and automation, as well as inventory management, among other applications.
What is more, Peeters claims that it goes way beyond scattering the data—it is about providing a platform that allows for data-driven decision-making and opening up potential use cases of the data in the day-to-day operations of a plant, including the communication with suppliers or customers. “For us and our customers, it has always been about necessity driving invention,” explains Peeters. “We have always worked closely with them to develop solutions that answer their pain points and needs.” Essentially, QCIFY is developing technology and quality management solutions “with and for the industry.”
Making Quality Data Actionable
By providing an automated quality control system, QCIFY allows companies to ensure more data consistency, regardless of the number of machines working during a single shift. Since the data that is produced on different machines is based on the same parameters, different systems will work the exact same way. This means that the quality control data is more reliable and cannot be compromised. On the other end, a manual approach usually implies working long shifts and multiple pairs of eyes looking at products, “and two people can never identify things exactly the same way,” explicates Peeters. Hence, the quality of the data can degrade over the course of a shift. This is not exactly cost-saving and it’s fairly hard to notice in time
QCIFY follows a simple philosophy: “We get new data every few minutes, so why not send that data immediately and make it available to other pieces of equipment?” As a result, QCIFY stores all of the quality control data on its machines and allows it to be pushed directly into any other ERP system at the production plant. This integration enables companies to use all of their data instantaneously and make data-driven decisions. “We have built an ecosystem for seamless collection, sharing, communication, and actionable use of quality control data, which had previously been impossible,” avows Peeters.
Our tools enable quality control departments to run more efficiently, with less human error and more data consistency
Enabling All-Around Optimization
Besides just the numbers, QCIFY generates a full report for a better visual representation of the data. The report includes two images of every single object and its sample, along with bars and charts to identify trends. Having such integration and making the data available in an understandable format enables optimization on all levels, whether it is sales, individual products, or product lines. Moreover, it allows for easier communication both internally, as well as resolving claims with the end customer. By being able to provide all of this information in a report at an instant, QCIFY significantly reduces claim disputes.
Furthermore, the sales people can simply look in their ERP system the second a sample is run and analyze the quality of specific batches so they know what products they can sell to which customer. The production team can look into trends that may indicate which parts of the process or the machines need fixing or maintenance. In sum, QCIFY provides a continuous optimization of the product line based on the customer’s specifications which, in turn, increases the yield and ROI for them and their business partners. Peeters emphasizes plans to push this integration even further with their customers so that they can immediately adjust upstream equipment as well. In essence, “the sooner you have the data available, the less time you spend on it and the less money it will cost.”
Breaking Boundaries Through Collaboration
Through close collaboration with their customers, QCIFY manages to continually improve their technology and establish long-standing partnerships on a global scale. It is this hand-in-hand approach that produces the most valuable dataset for them— customer feedback. However, Peeters poses that pushing this kind of technology into any company can be more hurtful than beneficial for them if they are simply not ready for it. “I would rather have future customers talk to users of our equipment than our salespeople to influence their purchase decisions,” states Peeters. “Revolutionary technology is important but our value proposition is shaped by what our customers say about us.” For obvious reasons, quality control departments are oftentimes the ones that are the most reluctant to embrace such technology. On the other hand, customers are persuaded into adoption more easily once they realize the massive advantages in terms of data consistency, time efficiency, and cost savings on multiple fronts.
As an example, when Peeters and his team had approached their first ever customer—a global market player with several hundred food processing plants and multiple food applications— they were immediately up for a challenge. To demonstrate the value of their tools and technology, QCIFY had “pitted” its machines against the finest individuals from the other side’s quality control department. The results revealed that QCIFY had produced much more consistent and reliable results than the human approach. In a matter of days, the customer fully switched from manual assessment to completely relying on QCIFY’s technology. “If our first customer is willing to go with us purely based on the data, then it gives us a lot of confidence to push forward,” expounds Peeters.
Having recently marked the milestone of 10 million almonds that have been analyzed by their systems since the installation of the first unit, QCIFY is throttling into the future. With 2018 right around the corner, they are looking to expand their applications into more verticals. Another focal point within the company’s roadmap involves finding more ways to modify, adjust, and integrate with different physical machines and technologies to facilitate better end-to-end automation of production plants. By fostering a highly collaborative culture and working closely with early adopters, QCIFY is bound to create the perfect quality solutions to cater to real-world market needs on a global scale.