When it comes to the global manufacturing industry, minimising inefficiencies is big business. And with technological advancements allowing for better and faster methods of improving performance, companies around the world are jostling for a piece of the action.
The founders of WrxFlo, a Limerick-based tech firm, believe their decades of experience operating global supply chains sets them apart from the competition.
Tim Crowe and Ken Sheehan set up their SaaS company in 2019 after deciding to build the type of technology that “we wished we had when we were running global manufacturing facilities”.
They solve companies’ problems on production lines and allow them to better understand the processes underpinning their manufacturing efforts. By gathering the relevant data and storing it in the cloud, WrxFlo helps its clients figure out where the inefficiencies are and eliminate them.
The Enterprise Ireland-backed firm is clearly doing something right: just two years after its foundation, it is about to close a €1.2 million funding round and plans to increase its headcount from ten to 50 within three years.
WrxFlo counts significant pharmaceutical and medtech companies among its clients and is on the verge of opening a new office in Mumbai, India. Next year it will open further plants in Chengdu and Beijing, in China, as it continues to add to its client list.
“Manufacturing companies across all sectors are trying to deal with the same challenges: costs, performance and quality,” Crowe, WrxFlo’s chief executive, said.
“All of these companies have found that lean methods have served them well in the past, but with the advancements in technology, our industry has a big role to play in bringing that forward again.”
WrxFlo operates in the “Industry 4.0” space, meaning it uses advanced technology to improve processes on production lines. It helps staff, managers and even machines to communicate with each other and optimise their performance.
When WrxFlo receives a contract from a client, its project managers first assess the issues facing the company on its production line. It then goes on a fact-finding mission, gathering data from equipment, software and people working on the line, and uploading it to the cloud.
“That allows us to give real-time insights on what’s going on in a manufacturing process, using the machine learning technology we’ve developed,” Crowe said.
While it claims to be ahead of the tech curve, WrxFlo is “very conscious” that software isn’t the solution to all issues, Crowe, who spent more than 20 years at Dell, said.
“We want to make sure that a client actually gets value from the data we’re giving them, so it’s not just a case of installing our technology. We help them to frame a problem, and we tell them the steps they can take to solve it. We treat our clients as partners, not projects.”
“This is a huge market,” Crowe said of the Industry 4.0 sector. “And it’s growing all the time – it’s growing by 40 per cent every year. There’s lots of room there to find your niche.”