How do you futureproof the traditional manufacturing industry?
MindLabs is a partner in the AI hub Brainport and a fan of collaborations - today we are giving the floor to a true pioneer: Koen Melis (52) about his startup CastLab.
MindLabs is a partner in the AI hub Brainport and a fan of collaborations. Because by joining forces, we can rise to great technological heights together. And not only with well-known, established names. We also find the visions and findings of start-ups and scale-ups particularly valuable. Within Mindlabs we can help each other, inspire each other and test innovative ideas together. Today we are giving the floor to a true pioneer: Koen Melis (52) about his startup CastLab.
CastLab unburdens companies by delivering metal products quickly and in desired quantities
CastLab takes care of digital supply on demand and more specifically; rapid casting on demand. We ensure that non or difficult to supply metal parts are delivered quickly and in the desired quantity. For example, if a 30-year-old part of an NS locomotive is defective, the train could quickly stand still for weeks. Because the part may no longer be produced, the manufacturer may have stopped producing it, or all the employees who worked with the product at the time may have retired. And if the part could still be found, large quantities often had to be purchased immediately at exceptionally long delivery times and high inventory costs. We have changed that.
Together with our CastLab Living Lab partners in areas such as 3D printing, new IT technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), composites, machining and prototyping, we can tackle all kinds of issues. We have such a diverse group of companies around us that we can solve almost any problem. Because from reproduction to certification and from molding to machining; we have expertise in that area. It also allows us to be creative and look at solutions differently. 3D printing, if possible, we use not only to make an end product, but also to make the molds. We can fill such a mold with the desired type of metal the very next day. That saves a tremendous amount of time. So we not only supply a product, but also a solution. To come back to that NS part for a moment; that train can ride again. And fast too. In addition, our solution is enormously sustainable. Because you no longer need to build up unnecessary stocks or have your parts come from faraway countries.
The key to success lies in open collaboration in the value chain
In a supply chain such as the one described above, where the various often analogous companies work together, it is important to make the info points in the entire chain visible and connect them. To then use new IT technology, DATA and AI, among others, to digitize the information within this value chain. Individual companies with an often analog character do not always know what to invest in, the technological developments are going fast. They do not have an R&D department, it is not in the DNA of these companies, and often a company does not have the capital and liquidity either. By investing not in a new machine but in thinking capability, these companies can also make a hopscotch leap.
The replacement market is huge. By leveraging Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) such as 3D printing and Artificial Intelligence, we can innovate tremendously within existing conventional manufacturing methods. Castlab provides these companies with the competencies and problem solving capabilities. Because can't, in my opinion, doesn't exist, said Koen Melis. By naming the gamechangers, we can think about smart solutions.
From startup to scale-up
We are now 1 year into our living lab. We are currently working with 3 employees and 2 interns. And we are now at the stage where we can take growth stepsWe have already run the necessary projects, with proof of concept; we really deliver what we promise.
Many of our assignments relate to the infrastructure market, with clients such as Deutsche Bahn, Siemens and Faiveley in addition to NS. But we are also willing and able to do much more than that. For example, we are also looking at opportunities for serving markets such as the maritime sector, defense and engineering industry.
What is your ambition?
First of all, I hope to pump a lot of adrenaline through the local industry. Especially given Tilburg's roots as a city and Brainport as a region. With that we can send out a signal. That everything can be much more efficient, sustainable and better. By keeping the good of the past and combining it with the beauty of the digital age. Why do we have to get everything from China? We would do better to go for structural strengthening of the Dutch manufacturing industry. Becoming more manufacturing than service industry again. That's why we are involved in Brainport Industries as a member.
And if we then look at our ultimate ambition ... To be the Spotify of the metal industry in 5 years. Not only for the Netherlands, but also abroad. We are very careful about that, because you first have to learn to crawl and walk before you start sprinting. But why only help the Netherlands if you can also be of service more widely?
MindLabs is a partnership involving Fontys Hogescholen, ROC Tilburg, Tilburg University, Province of Noord-Brabant, Municipality of Tilburg and the Persgroep (now DPG Media) and a growing group of corporate partners, social institutions and startups. Together, MindLabs partners are strengthening the development of technologies that interact with human behavior; or human centered AI. With the unique capabilities of these technologies, partners aim to help solve societal challenges.