No Crash, No Pain: ARIN Technologies Reboots the future of IIoT
As Industry 4.0 brings in a fresh wave of connected manufacturers and smart factories, new startups arise. Meet Vivek Kulkarni, CEO of ARIN Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based startup that develops indoor tracking system for technologically advanced warehouses and manufacturing plants.
Envision a future where you can simultaneously locate every single item throughout any giant factory. ‘Today we have a technology to make a transition into a smarter and more connected factory plant’, says ARIN Technologies CEO Vivek Kulkarni. After completing his undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering in Mumbai, he was offered a full scholarship at The University of Cincinnati. A bright, motivated student, he didn’t spend much time in a classroom but knew how to learn efficiently. ‘I usually went searching for the syllabus three weeks before exams started’, recalls Vivek. He was one of five students out of 180 in his faculty who never failed a subject. However, he doesn’t think that grades are vital for launching a startup.
‘To succeed as an entrepreneur, one needs to understand enough engineering, have the ability not only to build a team one can trust but also to step back and let others do what they are good at. My student peers who were at the top of the class got amazing high-paid jobs out of college. Those who were at the bottom started companies’ says Vivek, with a smile.
Solutions for Manufacturers
This knack for entrepreneurship has translated well into Vivek’s adult life, when he established ARIN Technologies, back in July 2015. Usually, getting a first round of funding is a daunting task, but his startup got fueled with an investment one month after their launch. Then in 2016, ARIN Technologies got accepted to the AlphaLab Gear, a leading hardware and robotics accelerator in Pittsburgh, and tested its first pilot in the local warehouse.
As with all businesses bound for success, Vivek saw a problem that needed to be fixed. The manufacturing industry is dealing with market forces requiring lower costs of production while maintaining flexibility in the variety of products that can be made in one facility. This puts stress on legacy systems and existing processes. Combined with the size of typical manufacturing plants and the activity inside it, this can lead to challenging conditions like safety issues and scheduling conflicts for work in progress, due to constantly varying stock keeping units.
ARIN Technologies is building solutions that address these safety and productivity challenges through positioning its new technology in-house. The company has built a high precision location system that can keep track of fork-trucks and cranes, work-in-progress, tools and workers, and also use its location to drive decisions in order to increase safety and productivity in-loco. The company offers two solutions: an alerting solution for safety and a track & trace solution for productivity and automation.
‘Manufacturers traditionally rely on manual data collection methods for item tracking, with reports based on paper records. Our solution, however, is providing access to more reliable real-time information and track products more accurately and cost effectively’, says Vivek.
After the worldwide Takata airbag inflators recall, automakers are looking for this kind of technology to trace any part all the way from the component supplier through end consumers. ‘Figuring out which car to recall is a difficult task. If you can somehow eliminate the need to scan the barcode and automate the whole process of tracking, all of a sudden your ability to track will go up tremendously.’ says Vivek.
Improving safety at work is one of the ARIN technologies’ primary objectives. The collision between fork trucks is a very real risk in many industrial plants. Any accidents involving movable equipment are costly to the business and can hurt the personal lives of employees. A forklift accident may cause thousands of dollars in damage, workman’s compensation claim and lost production time.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that there are roughly 85 deaths and 34,900 serious injuries each year due to forklift accidents. 42% of the forklift fatalities are caused by forklift driver being crushed by a lift truck that tips forklift.
Being able to alert a fork truck operator of a close proximity to something is what ARIN technology does.
Where has ARIN Tech run such test pilots?
- At a ‘Fortune 200’ company specialized in lightweight metals engineering and manufacturing, testing their technology at 10,000 square feet area, with extremely robust and accurate results.
- At a Chemical company’s plant, already delivered a product for collision avoidance.
- At a Plastic processing company, run a pilot project on June 2018 and have purchase order for one plant.
Other possible use-case scenarios:
- Hospitals: remind doctors to sanitize their hands and optimize their schedule.
- Retailers: suggest customers to buy another product and offer coupons.
- Robotics: Help robots with coarse navigation within large spaces
ARIN Technologies Goes Global
In 2018, the startup announced that it has landed a serious investment from Makers Boot Camp to continue its impressive growth trajectory. Inspired by the famous ‘Toyota Way’ book, Vivek believes that Japanese manufacturing is where his technology will be adapted first.
Vivek: When I think of various improvement methodologies used in manufacturing such as kaizen, gemba walks, hoshin kanri, kanban, etc., they all originated in Asian companies. These methods are based on including people who work in the plants and are thus very successful. I believe that people drive change and adopt new technologies and way of doing things.
The strategic investment and partnership will enable ARIN technologies to accelerate its development of new navigation tools with a goal of being ready for the market by the end of the year. Makers Boot Camp will also provide support for their business, connecting them to potential partners and suppliers in Japan.
‘All Japanese products are famous for high-quality manufacturing. Almost all Indian people I know in the US own a Japanese vehicle whether they are entry level engineer or very senior executive running a company’, says Vivek.
Next milestone is getting product certified and make it available commercially. As ARIN Technology grows, the powers and ambitions of the team also increase — now they are developing innovative technologies that could ultimately bring them to the forefront in the Industry 4.0.