CEO NEWS & UPDATES
This page serves as a database for every monthly email that our CEO Andre sends to a handpicked group of people.
These emails serve as a recap for what has been done recently, what's cooking behind the scenes and what are generally. If you're interested in receiving the update, please enter your details below. We'll include you as soon as your entry has been reviewed.
New Views 🪟
I hope you’ve had a magical Christmas break and a great start to the new year. I’m writing this on the last day of the year and finding that there is a lot to be thankful for in 2022. Clearly, we’ve matured. Our main workflow product, just rebranded Flows, as you may have seen, has been put through its paces. Clients have tested it in production environments that matter – from medical to aerospace. As a result, we’ve addressed scale issues, corner cases and more. The Enhanced Workflow Scheduling I highlighted last month, which reflects labour availability, is just one example. While a little battered and bruised, we passed the test. Flows is a world-class tool that rethinks the art of the possible in flexible workflow management.
I'm not saying we’re done learning. In this business, we never are. But we’re now able to build on what we learned to date and start focusing on utilizing the data we generate, not just on making the process management and data collection processes easier. 2023 will be focused on:
improving the User Experience to surface the data that matters when needed,
including more greater analytical capabilities while taking advantage of the phenomenal improvements in underlying AI algorithms (subject of considerable personal fascination recently), and
enabling entirely new views on the data generated.
If the efforts of the last month are anything to go by, it’s going to be a wild ride. Within just 2 weeks the team conceived of, and delivered, an entirely new view on production progress. This is the Work In Progress Matrix, now available to subscribers. It shows the status of orders along it’s stages in a colour coded, transparent way. At each stage, users can simply click on a status to get more information.
This is now the third production overview. Alongside a traditional GANTT chart (which shows machines on the Y axis) we also released the Production GANTT this year, which shows Orders on the Y axis and can be expanded to show individual pieces in those orders. Of course, information on each part can also be accessed in the Traceability Report. The ability to generate different views from the same data, quickly, demonstrates the clear advantage that digital, especially browser based tools have over manual views or even excel sheets – still the dominant type of production management in the field.
It's that advantage that we hope to build on in 2023. We have so much more to show you in that regard. There’s extremely exciting announcements coming in Q1. I can literally not wait to share them.
I hope you’re as optimistic and excited about the times ahead as we are. Look forward to hearing from you either way!
Happy New Year!
Shifting forward ⏩
I feel like I’ve only just recovered after an extremely busy month punctuated by Formnext and Thanksgiving (always a big deal in this house 🦃). Formnext was incredibly busy. Thank you for those that popped by, and sorry if I missed you. We had an astounding amount of interest, mostly thanks to our incredible Rube Goldberg machine. If you didn’t manage to get a go, make sure to see us at one of our next shows – or latest at AMUG.
It's not all talk and eating though. In the background, the tech team has been killing it, delivering a serious upgrade to our scheduling system in record time.
The key driver for this change are clients that are taking Authentise into serious production. That means respecting the nuances of a shop floor, like shifts. Acknowledging that new builds or production processes won’t be started when people aren’t in the building, this makes the schedule forecast much more reliable. There are lots of nuances in labour scheduling, and I’m sure we didn’t catch them all (for example, providing for special holidays), but the fact that users can now set work times and define how long labour needs to be present at the work station is a major step towards more accurate scheduling.
Of course, the latter needs to be editable in an order. Fortunately, users already get the option of defining labour time separately from workstation time at the line-item level. We’re now also using those times to define the schedule too. If you have a part that you know will take less time to process than usual, then you can now quote for that saving and make sure it’s recorded in the schedule.
I love seeing pragmatic, real world improvements happening on the system, guided by clients. If you want to find out more about those kinds of changes, and the next ones coming – please get in touch.
When I write to you next it will be close to new year so if you’re into that type of thing and I don’t speak with you before: Happy Holidays 🎅❄️🎄
All the best,
Sneak Peak II🎤
Hope you all saw the well-received Digital Design Warehouse release you were warned about last time? Since we started based on a vision of distributed manufacturing, it’s exciting to see that the concepts supporting both the discovery and distribution of designs are eliciting so much interest!
But that’s just the start. Over the past 5 years of working on our workflow management tools, we’ve realized 2 things: one is that the process of ensuring a high-quality part is as important as coming up with the additive application, and the second is that everybody who works in the additive industry has a phenomenal amount of knowledge about the process.
That’s now led to Guidelines, which will be publicly announced on Tuesday. Guidelines is a new feature developed under a UK grant, to encode knowledge and experience in a way that’s different from regimented workflows. It enables users to formulate if-this-then-that rules that use any type of engineering or production data as input. These rules then trigger suggestions at any point in the process. With Guidelines, a combination of machine sensor feedback, geometry features, or QA measurements, among others, can be used as triggers to suggest changes in behaviour or parameters that will ensure a more successful and sustainable production outcome. These suggestions are delivered to the user when required, during the engineering stages or in production.
Guidelines encapsulates so many of our core tenets that it’s hard to put into words. Not only does it do a great job at capturing tribal knowledge, but it also does so in a permissive way – no strictures, just suggestions. It’s also a fantastic way to start moving towards Transparent AI: Large parts of the manufacturing ecosystem reject many forms of Machine Learning because they make undecipherable changes to the process, which can’t be controlled for. Using Guidelines to provide the output of those algorithms as suggestions with an explanation is critical to increase AI acceptance. We’re already working on doing so – watch this space!
I’ve been an avid If-This-Then-That user for many years – outside manufacturing systems like Zapier, IFTTT or even Microsoft’s Power Automate, which Authentise is integrated with, make it much easier for even those with minimal experience with software to design their own rules and automations. It empowers people, and we built Guidelines because we believe it will do the same for those working in engineering and manufacturing.
But of course, it’s not only those internal to companies that can create new rules. That’s why we’ve partnered with ASTM to start turning all those standards the community has been working on into rules that manufacturers can follow while still having the flexibility to tune their process. It’s really incredible how difficult the constantly shifting standards landscape is for folks: I had no idea it takes service providers weeks to work out a Request for Proposals package with nested standards referenced. We believe Guidelines can help with that problem as well as streamlining adherence and reducing the cost of certification in production.
You can see Guidelines is a harder concept to communicate than the Digital Design Warehouse, but I hope that we’ve done an acceptable job in the press release. If not, meet us at one of the many events we’ll be at in the next few weeks (Develop3D Live and Advanced Engineering next week, as well as Formnext and Digital Manufacturing mid-November). If you’ll be there, find time to meet us.
It’s busy season again and based on all the trade shows we’re going to (check them out here and meet us) I wouldn’t fault you for thinking that we don’t have time for major product releases. Well, you’re wrong 😜
In the next few weeks we’re releasing news of a major new standalone product: Our Digital Design Warehouse. You’re the first to hear about it here. This product has been in the works for a little while. The DDW makes it easy to turbocharge your entire organization’s additive efforts and bring them under one roof.
People can easily upload any design type & parameters into their library. They can then share those designs with the wider organization (or your suppliers/partners) on a fully permissioned basis of course. Recipients don’t need to have CAD systems (saving you $$) and you don’t have to worry about where your files are anymore. If you want, those files can be linked to your PLM system but we have a full version control package inside DDW too.
But that’s not all. We’ve designed this from the ground up as an enterprise system. We’ve built on our experiences with 2 customization projects to make DDW super easy to whitelabel: Make it appear in your colours and style, so your internal stakeholders and external customers can feel like they’re part of the community. We also have our best-in-class security backing the whole thing, allowing you to share designs securely, whether they’re ITAR/defence or not. If necessary, the system is easily to deploy privately or on-premise, as all our systems are.
And last but not least, storing & sharing the data is obviously just the start. DDW also builds on Authentise’s really revolutionary openness (I know everybody says this but who else has dozens of actual integrations in the manufacturing space?!). In this initial release we have 2 integrations:
2D-to-3D conversions: upload a drawing and we’ll convert it into a 3D file you can print.
Additive Assessment: Detailed printability analysis & comparison against other production methods to help you decide whether to move forward with this project.
Suffice to say that the team have hit it out of the park!! I’m super proud and excited to be working with you to help it launch. If you’re interested, please get in touch. And no, this isn’t the only trick up our sleeve. We have one more pre-Formnext announcement, but I’ll tell you about that next time – I promise it will once again be a sneak peak.
Summer’s coming to its glorious finale with the traditional markers: Labor Day is just around the corner. All the more important for us to focus on making sure that collaboration between people working in facilities is streamlined. You’ll be reading a lot more about this as we ready our first non-additive releases but the theme is critical in our additive aMES product too.
Specifically, we’ve moved to allow conversations about parts throughout their lifecycle. Whereas before, conversations could only be had about line items in orders, that concept is now moved through to the production environment too inside the QR app, which we only just extended last month with the “kiosk mode”. This allows users on the shop floor to raise a question or the alarm about a specific part without having to go through a full Non-Conformance Report.
We’ve got some great feedback on this already and would love to extend the conversation element further – if you’re interested in “threaded” conversations or other innovations, please let us know. We’d love to get more guidance on what’s important.
Another form of collaboration is agreeing on what’s going to be done. That’s why we’re very proud to introduce “Certified Builds”. This is a massive step forward in production runs, which allows users to define a build layout so that it doesn’t have to be redefined every time a build is produced. Those Builds are now available in the Library section, which previously only included models.
Again: We’d love to hear your feedback. At the moment, the library is limited to production runs but there are other concepts we’d love to explore such as provisional runs (where a draft of the run is created prior to order confirmation) and a templated run (which includes a build layout but parts with small variations (such as serial numbers, or light customization are added as production move along).
Of course, no collaboration happens if communication isn’t fluent so we also worked on speed this month. All our users noticed big improvements, and while we’re still quantifying the changes, we know they’re in the order of magnitude category. And we’re not done yet. There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes to modernize both our frontend and backend stack, so we have a much better basis for future changes.
This email makes our process and collaboration sound really smooth. How else could we deliver such amazing features and improvements? But I can guarantee you: it’s not plain sailing ⛵ - so the long weekends coming up in the UK and the US are sorely welcomed for a bit of relaxation. Hope you get some rest too. And once you’re done, I hope to see you at IMTS. I’m there for a couple of days, so if you are too, please ping me!
Time Saving ⌚
We like to be efficient – even more so in the summer when not being efficient is taking time away from being at the beach. 🏖️
This month we might have gone a bit overboard in the theme. In the case of the Kiosk mode, for example. Kiosk mode is a new login method for our Shopfloor app.
The app helps users working on manual tasks to see work instructions, complete tasks and provide feedback information (measurements, pictures etc), optionally against thresholds. Usually, users have their own personal devices (could be company assigned, $40 wifi tablets). But we’ve found that in some cases, users like to use terminals near machines or at stations instead. In that case, they’re using a Kiosk.
The biggest change for Kiosk users is that they have to be able to log in quickly, because they’ll be sharing their terminal with others. That’s what we’ve enabled. In fact, they’ll be able to log in more than 300% more quickly!!
Just as impactful for time savings for a number of power users at clients like Danfoss and 3M is the multi-file upload. This is huge as it saves user from having to upload each file individually. This was harder to make happen than you think because each file has attributes that need to be set. We’ve now created a nifty little interface to be able to apply those to multiple files at once.
Finally, a pet peeve of everybody who creates or manages workflows, or creates Non Conformance Remediations in Authentise – You can now drag and drop workflow steps instead of having to create them in sequence (which previously meant you had to delete old steps before adding a new insert).
I know, crazy that we didn’t do that before, but you can see that with our unique structure of having the product, quality and customer support teams rolled into one in the Customer Success team (ably managed by Chris!) that those things that do truly matter to customers actually get addressed.
Trying to keep this short as I too want to get out to the beach. I’ve cancelled all my meetings for next week so – see you in mid August! I’ll be working from the Austrian Alps, so if I start yodelling, don’t blame me ⛰️
The summer is bursting in on us but we’re not ditching the office for the beach just yet. There’s a lot to do and promises to keep.
Among them is the long-awaited orientation feature addition. This allows users to set the orientation of a part during the review of the part and lock each axis in place manually for further processing. This includes the ability to determine orientation during the nesting process.
This is a huge change for us as it enables customers processing relatively simple parts to manually manage the process of preparing the file entirely inside Authentise. Orientation was one of the few areas in which we didn’t have a manual workaround to changing the setting in the app. This meant that users that didn’t trust our algorithms had to download the part, change the orientation and reupload. That’s cumbersome and although we would of course prefer people to trust our smarts, manual options are the baseline for process management tools such as Authentise so I’m delighted that we finally rectified this gap.
There are other changes that will be noticed by some of our hardened users, including an updated to our Shipment Packaging Slip. It offers enhanced capability including a QR code for accessing the virtual Packing Slip and editable Ship-To, Bill-To, and Ship-From addresses.
These changes have been running in parallel to our frontend and backend technology refresh. These are major projects but won’t be immediately noticeable to most. However, they’re critical as they increase performance, future development speed and overall capabilities that we are able to offer.
The business side of the house has been similarly busy: You’ll have noticed lots of small changes to the website, webinars (there’s one coming up on July 14th to discuss The Future of Process Monitoring (our partnership/integration with nebumind), and many different use cases. This is all thanks to our first Chief Marketing Officer (Charlie, who joined us a couple months ago) and Andreea, also a fairly new recent addition to our team.
Talking of team members – one major piece of news is that Simon McCaldin is joining us from TWI on August 1st to take over the Open Innovation (read: Grants and strategic projects) side of the business. That’s going to scale alongside our main business (we’re aiming to keep grants at ~20% of the business going forward to enable us to continue to invest in the longer-term features that keep us and the industry moving. Having raised £30m+ grants directly, Simon is more than able to sustain that growth.
With that team I don’t expect the pace of change to slow down, even though we are heading into the summer and I, for one, would quite like to head to the beach.
Happy 4th of July 🇺🇸 to those of you stateside. Us Brits will just calmly drink our tea and carry on.
Different Views 👓
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and the monumental suffering there have made me think about how differently people can perceive a situation. In the case of Ukraine, the aggressors view is obviously deeply flawed. However, it’s not always so clean cut. There are often many different legitimate ways of looking at the same data set, for instance.
We’ve held this view for a long time – as displayed with integration with Power Automate . It gives every Authentise user the opportunity to output data in the way they want to see it: personalized dashboard, report or alerts for managers, shopfloor associates, sales and others.
We’re now taking this dual view approach beyond simple reporting: This month, we’re releasing our Order based GANTT. Previously the GANTT in Authentise only reflected Machines on the Y axis. That of course benefits shopfloor associates who need to plan runs, but it makes it difficult to see what the progress of orders or parts are.
Enter the Order/Part based GANTT. In this view, Orders appear on the Y axis, and can be expanded to reveal the constituent parts. The X axis is naturally still time, but you can now see order completion in Order rows, and the individual part step completion elsewhere.
The order based progress bar is helpful elsewhere: It will be included in the Order too, to give a faster insight into current status. We may do the same with the part-based view too.
I’m glad I get this once-a-month chance to explain our thinking and resulting actions. But I’m often surprised how much telling there is to do. This month we’ve done a couple of online webinars and sessions that go a long way into explaining what we are doing: One with McCad Café, which talks about the origins and product at a high level, and another with SME in preparation for their Smart Manufacturing Experience event in Detroit in June. That one was particularly exciting as it included Nick Weeks from Carpenter Additive, producer of metal powders and customers of our newly acquired Elements software suite. We had a really great discussion about the reasons for, and the struggles with, deployment of digital tools. If you have a moment, listen in and let us know what you think: What parts of our story are still unclear?
If you’d rather meet IRL (In Real Life, for those without younger siblings or children to keep you hip), there’s a couple opportunities for that too. For the first time ever, we’ll be at 2 events, on 2 continents, at the same time.
The first, naturally, is AMUG in Chicago starting this Sunday. I’ll be there, along with Derek and Celina. If you want to meet there, come to Booth 34, Salon D, or find a time to meet me here.
The second is MACH in Birmingham. We’ll be there for one day only (April 5th) to start talking with innovation friendly manufacturers about how our data driven tools can help make non-additive operations more agile too. Meet us at 6-820n or reach out to our team: Nick, our head of strategic projects, will be there, along with (🥁drumroll please) Keith.
The announcement that Keith has joined us from Hexagon (along with an illustrious list of former companies including Autodesk, Siemens, Oracle and more) is hot off the press and possibly the most exciting news of the year. We’ve been looking for somebody to really take ownership of the non-additive portfolio. We truly believe that the lack of legacy, increased data and lot size 1 that’s shaped additive has something to bring to a supply chain strained by the need to be flexible. Keith’s proven ability to listen carefully and distill the requirements into products, along with his staggering experience, will turn that belief into results.
Keith is by far not the only person who’s joined Authentise. Along with him, Andreea (marketing) and Ash, Marshall, Ayoub, Ameya, Tyler and Grigorii (all development) are joining Authentise within an 8-week window in a sign that we, hopefully, have broken through a glass ceiling in hiring and should be able to accelerate feature releases even further.
So, as always, there is much excitement and much to do – yet another example of 2 views of the same coin.
Hope to see or hear from you soon.
All the best
ua Friendship 🤝
I wrote the first version of this update without mentioning Ukraine but it doesn’t sit right. At this time, it’s the primary thing on our minds. To see a ground war perpetrated by a criminal psychopath turning the lives our friends, coworkers and fellow Europeans upside down and, in some cases, costing it, is almost too much to bear. We’ve been watching in stunned silence but that hasn’t stopped us from doing something. We’ve checked in with our colleagues regularly, supported the humanitarian effort (here’s a good list if you’re interested), in some cases offered personal support for housing and visas, and are in the process of formulating policies that will stop Authentise from doing business with any organization related in any way to the Russian state.
While friendship with Ukraine is what drove the theme of this month, it’s actually a good theme for what happened: Of course, we announced our acquisition of Elements, which I expect you’ll have seen. That deal alone of is transformative for Authentise: It’s our first step outside of the additive world, we’ve gained some really interesting new clients and of course, some wonderfully talented team members. It’s a really exciting time for Authentise.
The fact that we’ve been able to bring other companies on board speaks to a maturity of the company that I didn’t think was possible before. We had another proof of that this month, with a few major final deliveries accepted. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re finished with our deliveries. We constantly evolve with our partners, as you can see with this month’s updates:
We’ve added another group type that is now permitted to see financial data such as price or margins. All other users won’t be able to see those anymore.
When an action is assigned operators get an email and the tasks appear on the dashboard when they log in to the system. Completing a task is just as easy. Operators simply log in and click on the task in either the dashboard or the full task list, to be taken to the specific section and task.
In the vain of simple but effective updates, the final change I want to highlight is that duplicating workflows now also duplicate work instructions. I hate to sound like a broken record but these kinds of updates are what turns us from a great system to a truly effective one. We’re so grateful that we can continue to learn from our clients in this way.
There’s more to report. We’ve got a very key hire we’re excited to learn. But more on that next time. If you have any news in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you.
Learning Together 🤔
I started this year with a warm January (my wife “persuaded” me to move to Portugal Q1 to catch a break from grey UK weather) by reflecting on our hits, misses, and learnings from last year. So, it’s no surprise that we started the year (while wrapping a few big deployments) by releasing quick win features that we’d skipped in 2021. These are a direct reaction to customers' feedback and the kind of features that I like to see most. They include:
Interactive Queues Page: This allows users to jump from the GANTT chart right to QR traveler and the app, making the printing out of travellers unnecessary if required.
Unplanned Downtimes: Often times these events occur when you're not looking or planning. Unplanned Downtimes are now easily recordable.
"Select All" when doing Production Changes: This accepts the reality that parts are often processed as a group.
We’ve also enabled users to override Run Time Actuals since realities on the shop floor mean that data must be easily correctable and overridable at the source.
Listening closely to customers is our superpower. It’s what made us the largest (by revenue) independent additive workflow provider and what will sustain our growth. So, while these updates seem small, they are an excellent representation of what we are best at, and what is most meaningful to our customers. Go team!
Great start to the year!!