Powering the Digital Factory & Predictive Analytics
The Arch team set out on 2020 with some clear objectives, two of which were to increase adoption of industrial IOT solutions for digital factory initiatives and, subsequently, fill a massive machine data lake. In a most extraordinary year where few could have predicted the obstacles that lay ahead for most company objectives, the successes of not both companies and people alike were remarkable.
Like many others, the Arch team began 2020 full of promise. We bid farewell to interns working at headquarters in Palo Alto, CA, and welcomed new ones in February. Planning for our second Arch Summit in March was well underway as we anticipated bringing our distributed team to one central location, excited to reconnect with familiar faces and meeting a few in-person for the first time.
And, like most every other workspace in the world, by the end of February we began to prepare for how and when the effects of COVID would impact our team. We confirmed new interns still wanted to come and could do so safely. We then began the exhaustive process of making sure all of our existing team members had what they needed to be productive while working from home. Our optimistic hopes that this would be a weeks-long situation were soon met with the realization that we were staring down a worldwide pandemic.
Prior to COVID shutdowns, Arch championed an environment where there were no expectations for seated members to be in the office at a given time, or even at all. It meant a commitment to flexible time off that worked in a way that suited the lives of our team the best. Our distributed team worked across the US & Europe, with a team seated in the Bay Area at Playground, a comfortable co-working space that provided a lab for our hardware team, meeting rooms, even meal service and happy hours. Members of our remote team worked in every environment from home offices to libraries, local coffee shops, and other group workspaces. All this changed within a matter of a few weeks.
Our first priority was to make sure team members had what they needed, especially as it became clear we’d be working from home longer than a few weeks. Didn’t grab monitors from Playground? We’d get them to you. Don’t have a good chair for your desk at home? We had you covered. Didn’t have a desk? Not a problem, one was on the way. Though they were already a little better prepared, we ensured our already-remote team members had the equipment they needed as well.
But office supplies would prove not to be our greatest concern. The needs of our team extended far beyond these, or other physical items for that matter.
Parents on our team were now faced with distance learning, a lack of childcare, having to explain to toddlers why playgrounds were closed, and educating children at home while also juggling work responsibilities. Team members were suddenly working from home in the same room as other people, sometimes multiple. Balancing schedules, Zoom calls, lunches, grocery store runs, and the sudden loss of the freedom to go whenever, wherever, was no small burden. Feelings of uncertainty mounted as we looked at rising cases, thought about the safety of our loved ones, and continued to see massive layoffs in the startup world.
Our CEO demonstrated the best kind of leadership in his people approach and our business team quickly and openly discussed our worst-case scenario with everyone at Arch, and that we were not considering reducing the team in response to the pandemic. First and foremost was the mental health of our people in their new and often difficult life/work environments.
Early summer brought additional painful angst as the world processed another crisis. We were faced with the harsh reality of social injustices brought to focus by the Black Lives Matter movement in addition to the increase in anti-Asian racism earlier in the year in response to COVID-19 spread. As a company, Arch has always welcomed open discussion and personal growth in a respectful, dignified climate. As the events of 2020 brought Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging to the top of everyone’s mind, our team came together to learn more about systemic racism and how we become better allies and supporters of one another.
Passing the Test
At Arch, we said we believed strongly in a few things; enabling people to work where and when it was best for them, that people always come first, and that we champion a supportive, collaborative team driving technology and people ahead– all things we’d proclaimed openly prior to a pandemic. The events of 2020 tested every one of those beliefs and, thanks to our adaptable and resilient team, partners, and customers we passed the test with flying colors.
Our efforts at agility were paying off. We lost little time transitioning as a team and our collective contributions were yielding impressive results. The most exciting advancements of 2020 came in the form of advanced, actionable insights for surface mount technology (SMT) manufacturers. As we rolled out on SMT lines all over the world and the data lake for these machines started filling up, the data from some of those machines began to tell a remarkable story. Recording just one day’s production for an SMT manufacturer will result in millions of device health data points in the data lake, so recording a month or more of activity provides a rich data set to develop predictive models. In the case of one EMS manufacturer, as calculations for line utilization (LU) and machine utilization (MU) were enabled, unified access to the right machine data began to provide powerful new actionable insights. Analysis of 15,000 Pick-and-Place feeders over a historical period showed that 33% of their mis-picks were caused by just 0.3% of their feeders, a problem that could easily be solved when the ID’s and locations of the mis-calibrated feeders were provided.
A Most Exceptional Team
As the year draws to a close, we take a look at the exciting accomplishments the Arch team brought us in 2020. These include:
- ArchFX completes first global rollout, collecting data from Flex SMT lines worldwide.
- As of 2020 Arch has the largest PNP (Pick-and-Place) SMT (surface mount technology) data lake in the world with more than 147 million data records in our database to date.
- In March, as manufacturing facilities in Shanghai were just beginning to reopen after COVID-19 shutdowns, Arch successfully completed a fully-remote factory installation of the ArchFX platform.
- At the start of 2020, Arch had installations inside 1 of the Top 10 largest EMS (electronics manufacturing services) manufacturers in the world. By the end of the year, we had installations in four.
- Arch was recognized as one of the Top 5 Sensor Startups in Manufacturing.
- In August, NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council announced Flex as a 2020 award winner for Enterprise Integration Technology Leadership, an Arch partnership project. Arch and Flex presented the details of this partnership in expanded form at Manufacturing & Technology 2020 in December.
- In November, Arch inked the second-largest deal in company history, furthering our leadership in machine data extraction and advanced analytics for electronics manufacturers.
By the end of Q4 2020, Arch had cut expenses without cutting any jobs in response to economic shutdowns, and simultaneously grown revenue 70%– in a year that marked the hardest economic crisis in recent history, hitting the manufacturing industry particularly hard.
The accomplishments of our team this past year represent something more than hard work by exceptional people. They represent the unification of a diverse, distributed team working through extraordinary circumstances and times, in an industry marked by an indomitable spirit, supported by world-class partners and customers.
Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year from Arch.