This week, Ingenuity sits down with Vayeron CEO, Ryan Norris to discuss the development process of the revolutionary Smart-Idler®. Discover why Vayeron chose Ingenuity to develop their first innovation in this exclusive interview.

Q1: What were the key factors that influenced your decision to choose Ingenuity as the development partner for the Smart-Idler®? Specifically, what expertise or capabilities stood out to you?

Ryan Norris: When we first engaged with Ingenuity, they were a smaller firm. However, what really caught my attention was their entrepreneurial spirit and a ‘can do’ attitude. Even though they hadn’t extensively worked with handling systems like conveyors before, they quickly grasped the concept I presented for the product development. I was impressed by their ability to understand not only the business case but also the technological aspects of the project. Moreover, they consistently offered practical suggestions for solving the problem at hand. Their swift comprehension and proactive approach were remarkable.

Paul and the rest of the team at Ingenuity, showed a deep passion for product development and creating solutions that could positively impact the world. That enthusiasm was contagious and aligned perfectly with our project’s goals, which excited me even more.

Since we were working on something entirely new and innovative, there were many unknowns in the development process. However, I was thoroughly impressed with how Ingenuity navigated through these uncertainties. They were self-aware, recognizing what they knew and what they didn’t, and when they encountered hurdles, they approached them with a problem-solving mindset. Throughout the process, they maintained excellent communication with me and provided well-thought-out options for the way forward, always considering trade-offs, as resources were not unlimited.

Their ability to optimize outcomes, considering the constraints we had, was truly commendable. As we encountered unexpected challenges, they revealed a knack for finding those “aha” moments that shed light on the complexities we faced. Overall, their approach to handling the project’s challenges and their dedication to the development process solidified my confidence in their capabilities.

I knew to stay the course with Ingenuity because they continued to prove themselves to be great problem solvers.

Q2: How important was it for you to work with the development partner that had deep domain knowledge in the mining industry? How did Ingenuity’s understanding of the mining sector contribute to the successful development of the Smart-Idler® ?

Ryan Norris: The deep domain knowledge in the mining industry was certainly valuable, although at the time of working with Ingenuity, they had limited exposure to the mining sector, with only a couple of non-related products. However, despite this, I had a high level of confidence in their abilities due to the factors I mentioned earlier. Ultimately, what mattered most to me was their solid grasp of key commercial requirements for developing a successful product, regardless of the industry. They effectively conveyed this understanding, which instilled confidence in their capabilities.

One aspect that impressed me was the way they approached the project by asking a lot of explorative questions. Their curiosity and ability to quickly grasp essential details about our industry were significant reasons why I chose to continue working with Ingenuity.

They knew precisely which questions to ask, and through this process, they swiftly uncovered crucial information that was essential for creating a successful product in our sector. Their approach to gathering insights was commendable, and it reaffirmed my decision to collaborate with Ingenuity.

Q3: Can you share any specific challenges or complexities that were encountered during the development process of the Smart-Idler® ?

Ryan Norris: During the development process of the Smart-Idler® first-generation product, we encountered several challenges and complexities. As it was a pioneering venture, everything was relatively new and required a substantial amount of research and development. The exploratory nature of the project made it feel like we were charting new territory, similar to being in a research facility at a university.

One of the key factors that helped us overcome these obstacles was Ingenuity’s expertise and the diverse skill set within their team. 

Having various disciplines under one roof allowed us to bounce ideas off each other and leverage different perspectives. For instance, the presence of firmware experts, particularly one with strong signal processing capabilities, was instrumental in achieving impressive vibration analysis capabilities while using relatively low-power and unsophisticated hardware. This ability to deliver exceptional functionality at a competitive price point was truly impressive.

Throughout the process, Ingenuity’s team demonstrated an inquisitive mindset and a genuine willingness to explore various approaches to create the best possible product. They tackled challenges, navigated through uncertainties, and persisted until we achieved our goals. Although I can’t recall a specific example at the moment, I can confidently say that the entire journey was filled with hurdles that required diligent problem-solving, and Ingenuity’s multidisciplinary team proved instrumental in delivering a successful outcome.

Q4: What role did Ingenuity play in the design and implementation of the advanced sensor technologies used in the Smart-Idler®? How did our expertise in sensor integration contribute to the overall performance and functionality of the product?

Ryan Norris: Ingenuity played a pivotal and major role in the design and implementation of the advanced sensor technologies used in the Smart-Idler®. From the very beginning of the project, during the development of the first-generation product, they were instrumental in creating and refining the sensor technologies that formed the core of the product’s functionality.

Their expertise in sensor integration was crucial in ensuring the overall performance and functionality of the Smart-Idler® . 

Their ability to develop innovative and reliable sensor technologies allowed us to achieve impressive vibration analysis capabilities and other critical functionalities. This level of expertise ensured that the product’s sensors were accurate, efficient, and well-suited to the harsh conditions of the mining industry.

Even as we progressed to the second generation, where some changes in mechanical and industrial design were made in-house, Ingenuity remained an essential partner, providing ongoing support and acting as a valuable sounding board for our internal team’s ideas. 

Their continued involvement has been vital for maintaining the high standard of the product. The unique problem-solving approach and expertise in navigating challenges during the development process have set Ingenuity apart. It’s this combination of factors that has allowed us to create something that others have tried to replicate but have yet to succeed.

The Smart-Idler® success and its unmatched capabilities owe a great deal to the exceptional team at Ingenuity and their unwavering dedication to producing top-notch sensor technologies.

Q5: How do you believe these contributions have positioned Vayeron for future success in the mining industry?

Ryan Norris: The contributions of Ingenuity have positioned Vayeron for future success in the mining industry in several critical ways. Firstly, their expertise and close collaboration with us provided us with the necessary knowledge and capabilities to attract capital investment. This financial support was vital for our growth and allowed us to continue developing our technology and expanding our operations.

Moreover, Ingenuity’s involvement enabled us to support our customers effectively. Their deep domain knowledge and contributions to the product development ensured that we could offer cutting-edge solutions that met the specific needs of the mining industry. This level of support and reliability instilled confidence in our customers, which, in turn, led to increased sales and strengthened our position in the market.

The close partnership with Ingenuity also allowed us to maintain a lean approach to our operations. By leveraging their expertise, we could avoid unnecessary expenses and achieve a higher level of efficiency in our processes. This lean approach is crucial for a startup, as it allows us to maximize our limited runway and strive towards becoming cash flow positive and profitable as quickly as possible.

The confidence and support provided by Ingenuity extended beyond our internal team to external stakeholders, including customers and investors. Having such a reputable and competent partner backing us gave credibility to our endeavors and facilitated further business opportunities and investment.

Ultimately, Ingenuity acted as a safety net for us, ensuring that we could navigate challenges, innovate, and progress confidently. Their backing and support have been instrumental in our growth and success in the mining industry, and we envision a continued strong partnership with them as we move forward on our journey of expansion and product development.

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