Henkel AG & Co. KGaA (Dusseldorf, Germany; www.henkel.com) is participating in the latest funding round of Fero Labs (New York, N.Y.; www.ferolabs.com), a start-up aiming to optimize industrial processes by using explainable machine learning. The investment is led by the company's HenkelX Ventures unit, together with DIVC, a Munich-based B2B Tech investor. Henkel will support Fero Labs to grow its existing customer base while at the same time further leverage the potential of Industry 4.0 applications in its own production sites, as well as in joint business development together with clients and suppliers. Fero Labs will be exhibiting at the 2020 Connected Plant Conference, Feb. 25–27.
"Fero Labs' software offers a great opportunity to further analyze and optimize production processes on various levels and has already proven its potential: explainable machine learning can contribute to better planning, sourcing and production. We are looking forward to partnering with the Fero Labs team to jointly drive the further digital transformation of industrial manufacturing processes – within Henkel and beyond," said Dr. Rahmyn Kress, Global Head of HenkelX Ventures. By driving progress in Industry 4.0 across its production sites worldwide, Henkel wants to optimize processes to better utilize manufacturing plants, increase services for customers and support Henkel's sustainability footprint by reducing energy and waste.
Fero Labs, headquartered in New York City and with a second office in Düsseldorf, has developed a dedicated software suite called "Fero", that provides explainable machine learning to enhance production processes and increase efficiency while improving the overall manufacturing quality. The software has seen adoption in the consumer goods, steel and chemical industries in particular through lighthouse users like Henkel, Gerdau, and Covestro.
The company was founded upon the insight that many machine learning methods used successfully by tech companies are not directly applicable to the industrial world. In factories, process engineers do not want to just predict events. They also need to understand why ML systems make their decisions and pinpoint root causes. This is why Fero Labs developed their core technology to address the specific requirements of industrial machine learning.
Gerdau, the largest steel producer in Latin America, employs Fero across several production sites in the US. Through the use of the software, they successfully deployed explainable machine learning models for several use cases around quality optimization and cost minimization. They achieved double digit savings in raw material costs within months of the roll-out.
"We are living in an interconnected world and machines operate in increasingly interconnected processes. At Fero Labs, our core mission is to generate profits for our partners in industry by empowering them with our explainable machine learning software," says Berk Birand, CEO Fero Labs. "By combining our customer's data with the latest advances in the field of data science, we support companies like Henkel leap into this next stage of industrial productivity."
"Based on latest developments in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Fero Labs has developed a uniquely powerful software suite," says Klaus Kleinfeld, Investor, Board Member, and Advisor at Fero Labs."It allows optimizing most complex industrial processes to substantially improve performance and profits. Fero Labs' solution has shown impressive results for their customers in different industries. I am convinced that Fero Labs has a great potential for its investors."