The construction industry hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are signs it is slowly starting to get back in shape – from new efforts to make factories more responsive to demand fluctuations got help. The ups and downs of battling a changing economy, virus outbreaks and more. Today, a business that is positioning itself as part of that new guard of flexible custom manufacturing – a startup called Fractry – is announcing a $9 million (€7.7 million) Series A that outlines the trend. Is.
The funding is being led by OTB Ventures, a leading European investor focused on high-tech start-ups after initial development, product development with existing investors Trind Ventureshandjob superhero capitalhandjob United Angels VChandjob Startup Wise Guys And Verve Ventures also participating.
Founded in Estonia, but now based in Manchester, England – historically a strong center for manufacturing in the country, and close to Fractry’s customers – Fractry has built a platform to make it easier for the people who need it. There is a need to get custom metalwork to be uploaded and ordered, and for factories to take on new customers and jobs based on those requests.
Fractry’s Series A will be used to continue expanding its technology and bring more partners to its ecosystem.
To date, the company has worked with more than 24,000 customers and hundreds of manufacturers and metal companies, and in total it has helped crank out more than 2.5 million metal parts.
To be clear, Factory itself is not the manufacturer, nor does it have any plans to be involved in that part of the process. Instead, it is in the business of enterprise software, with a market for people who are able to do manufacturing jobs – currently in the metalworking sector – to connect with companies that need metal parts for them. , using intelligent tools to identify what needs to be made and connect that potential job to specialist manufacturers who can make it.
The challenge the factory is solving is not unlike the challenge it faces in many industries that have variable supply and demand, a lot of fragmentation, and generally an inefficient method of sourcing work.
As Martin Veres, the founder and MD of Factory, describes it to me, companies that need metal parts may have a factory they work with on a regular basis. But if there is any circumstance that may mean that this factory can’t work, the customer needs to shop and find others instead. This can be a time consuming and costly process.
“It is a very fragmented market and there are many ways to manufacture products, and the relationship between them is complex,” he said. “In the past, if you wanted to outsource something, it would have meant multiple emails in multiple locations. But you can’t individually go to 30 different suppliers like that. We make it in a one-stop shop. “
On the other hand, factories are always looking for better ways to fill their roster of work so there is little downtime – factories don’t want people to be paid to work, or use such machinery. which is not being used.
“The average uptime efficiencies are 50%,” Veres said of the metalwork plants on the factory’s platform (and in the industry in general). “We have a lot more machines than we are used to. We really want to address the issue of leftover capacity and improve the market and reduce waste. We want to make their factories more efficient and thus Want to make it sustainable.”
The factory approach involves customers – today those customers are typically in construction, or other heavy machinery industries such as shipbuilding, aerospace and automotive – uploading CAD files specifying what they need. These are then sent to a network of manufacturers to bid for and take on the jobs – much like a freelance marketplace, but for manufacturing jobs. About 30% of those jobs are fully automated, while the other 70% may include some involvement from the factory to help advise clients on their approach, including work, manufacturing, delivery and more. . Veres said the plan is to improve the ratio by building more technology that can be automated. This will involve further investment in RPA, but also computer vision to understand what the client wants to do, and how to best execute it.
Fractry’s platform can currently help fill orders for laser cutting and metal folding services, including jobs such as CNC machining, and it is next looking at industrial additive 3D printing. It will also look at other materials such as stonework and chip making.
Manufacturing is one of those industries that has been very slow to modernize in some ways, which in a way isn’t a huge surprise: the equipment is heavy and expensive, and typically “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” “It” applies in this world. That’s why companies making more intelligent software, at least to make that legacy device run more efficiently, are finding some footing. who need custom made things, went public earlier this year and now has a market cap of over $3 billion. Hub (now part of Protolabs) among others in the same location ) and Kimtek.
One selling point that the factory is pushing is typically manufacturing local for the customer to reduce the logistics component of the work to reduce carbon emissions, although as the company grows it will be interesting to see how. How and if it follows that commitment.
Meanwhile, investors believe that Fractry’s outlook and faster growth are strong indications that it is here to stay and make an impact in the industry.
“Factory has built an enterprise software platform like no other in a manufacturing setting. Its rapid customer adoption is a clear demonstrable response to the value of supply chains with technology to automate and digitize an ecosystem ready for factory innovation. brings to the fore,” Marcin Hejka said in a statement. “We have invested in a talented group of great product and software engineers, committed to developing a product and continuing our formidable track record of rapid international growth.