Q&A with Accelerate winner of The BoostUp! Grand Final
Five questions to Martin Plutz at oculavis – changing how manufacturers globally interact with machinery
Oculavis has a mission to transform the how service and maintenance is done at manufacturing plants around the world. Started by three founders in 2016, the German company has grown to 60 employees and 5 million Euros in revenue. Here, Managing Director Martin Plutz speaks about how he established one of Europe’s most promising startups in the manufacturing industry, and about winning the BoostUP! Grand Final in the Accelerate category. As a prize oculavis received a service package from EIT Manufacturing to develop new business areas and 30,000 Euros in prize money.
Can you very briefly explain how the company started and what problems it is seeking to address?
“I had been working at the Fraunhofer Society, which is a big research institute in Germany with around 30,000 employees. At a certain point, our team got hold of some smart glasses – and we started to play around with that technology to see what the possibilities were. The tech was a real innovation push for us, it made it possible to consider developing remote service applications. At manufacturing plants, troubleshooting can be difficult when a machine breaks down. It can be hard to diagnose the problem or for the machine manufacturers to see what has gone wrong. Sending a technician to the plant is expensive and takes time: So, providing better and faster service became the basis for our work. The remote servicing solution we have developed today guides the operator to fix the problem – making use of tech such AR, IIoT and Artificial intelligence. The service solution is also completely device agnostic, because the availability of Augmented Reality headsets is still quite low at manufacturing plants, but everyone has access to a smart phone.”
How can this technology help the manufacturing sector?
“If a machine breaks down, it can be hard to diagnose the problem. Previously, the machine manufacturer would often need to send a technician on site. The key benefits with our solutions is that you can identify a problem remotely. This means you no longer have to send people around the world, which brings down travel costs and greatly reduces CO2 emissions. It can also reduce other expenses and risks: We have spoken to machine manufacturers who were sending large, expensive components around to different sites without being certain the actual issue was. There is also the problem of downtime: when a machine is standing still it costs manufacturers money. It’s also competitive advantage for those who adopt it, they can offer faster and better service.”
What are your key priorities in terms of developing your business now?
“We started in Germany and we are expanding our business across Europe and starting to get some pick up internationally. The Corona-crisis showed to us that a lot of our sales can be done remotely, but we are also building a presence in some countries – focusing on France and the UK, right now. To be physically present in some markets is important to build trust.”
What was the journey like from the BoostUp! Regional Final in Darmstadt to the European Grand final in December?
“Well, I really didn’t see it as a competition, it was nice to meet the other participants, talk to them and hear about their solutions. The regional final in Darmstadt in September was actually the last on-site event I did, before everything became locked-down in Germany. So, it was really nice to travel to another city and interact. The final was obviously fully digital – to win it was very surprising!”
In what way can collaborating with EIT Manufacturing be useful to you as company?
“We are hoping for introductions to companies that we don’t know yet, to build our network and meet people that could be useful for us. EIT has a Europe-wide network, so I think that helps in terms of getting support in different countries.”
- oculavis GmbH emerged from Fraunhofer Society and RWTH Aachen University in 2016.
- 60 employees and more than 5 million Euros revenue in 2020.
- It is seeking to redefine how manufacturers globally interact with machinery.
- Provides service solution for machinery & equipment manufacturers, maintenance solution for the producing industry, as well as partnership and customer success solutions.
- It makes use of tech such as Augmented Reality, IIoT and Artificial intelligence.
About BoostUp! 2020
Boost UP Grand Final – Supporting innovative entrepreneurs from all over Europe
On December 11th 2020, EIT Manufacturing Summit hosted the first BoostUp! Grand Final. The event was the culmination of five regional finals, starting in September in Darmstadt, Germany; and moving on to San Sebastian, Spain; going north to Gothenburg, Sweden; then to Vienna, Austria; and finally, Milan, Italy. The competition gathered 180 applications from 30 different countries.
Read more about the BoostUp! finalists here