Process control through augmented reality

Celine Jörns

Startup Stories

Tacking machines day and night, parallel work processes with up to three different shifts, strict regulations and often 500 work steps or more in one operation. Complex processes and stressful work environments within regulated industries are not uncommon. These can quickly lead to increased error rates, long training periods as well as shutdown times. The result is higher than average inefficiencies. The startup Goodly Innovations has addressed this problem and developed the OptiworX system, which digitally maps processes and guides employees along their tasks with the help of augmented reality. Robert Hoffmeister, founder and CEO of Goodly Innovations, told us in the 5-HT interview how OptiworX is used, which industries the startup supports with its solution and why it is ahead of the competition.

Robert Hoffmeister, founder and CEO of Goodly InnovationsRobert Hoffmeister, founder and CEO of Goodly Innovations

Who is Goodly and why "Goodly"?

Goodly Innovations came into being in 2016, when the founders met with their know-how from the pharmaceutical and interactive technology. During his 20 years of experience as a pharmaceutical technologist, Dirk Schrader, had always struggled with the fact that packaging processes in the regulated pharmaceutical industry sometimes exhibit inefficiencies of over 60%. Together with Robert Hoffmeister, who brings years of experience in the computer graphics field, the idea of using augmented reality and smart devices to solve this problem was born.

"Our approach was to find a solution that allows flexible digital process management and is adapted to the skill level or personality of the individual," Hoffmeister says.

OptiworX - the multi experience in everyday working life

This solution is called OptiworX and is a dynamic process control system that was developed specifically for the regulated processes of the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry. With the help of augmented reality, the system guides users flexibly and individually through the entire work process. A wide variety of end devices, such as augmented reality glasses, smart glasses and tablets, are compatible here. "Our requirement for these complex processes is to map them in such a way that they can be handled by any number of people at the same time and everyone can use the end device that is right for them. We call this dynamic multi-user, multi-device process guidance." In concrete terms, this means that theoretically an infinite number of users with an infinite number of end devices can log in and participate in the process in parallel.

OptiworX guides users through the work process with the help of AROptiworX guides users through the work process with the help of AR

The punctual and centimeter accurate guidepost

Robert Hoffmeister explains how OptiworX can be integrated into the work environment: "In principle, our process logic also works without augmented reality, but in order to take full advantage of the system's performance, we or the customer make a scan of the environment so that our system can orient itself to it. It's a matter of minutes, so we don't need a lot of shutdown time to install it." The software is integrated into the customer's existing IT landscapes, allowing the generated data to be transferred in real time and used for analysis or batch reports, for example. "The customer can always design the process quickly and flexibly according to individual requirements, or our consultants can help," Hoffmeister says. Once the system is integrated, employees must log in with their end devices so that it is recognized and documented who is working on the processes and what is being worked on. Once a user is logged in with their augmented reality glasses, smart glasses or tablet, they are guided through their tasks flawlessly with the help of holograms and digital instructions. "For example, if the employee is using augmented reality glasses, OptiworX will guide him to the location where the next task needs to be done, even in an environment of several hundred square meters, with centimeter precision. There, he then receives instructions on what to do." This makes it possible for even new employees who are not yet familiar with the process to complete tasks that arise without errors.

The holograms guide the employees to the next tasksThe holograms guide the employees to the next tasks

Advantages over advantages

However, OptiworX does not only enable the fast learning of processes. Robert Hoffmeister lists the purpose and advantages of the system: "We are not an automation technology that takes over the employees' job, but rather simplifies their work, takes away stress, supports error prevention and increases efficiency. At the same time, OptiworX also fulfills a documentation purpose, as the system can log everything. An automatic, positive side effect of this is also the paperless advantage." During the development of the system, he said, worker involvement was of particular importance. "Individual flexibility and freedom of choice is a hugely important psychological aspect that OptiworX includes. The system doesn't force the worker to take on a certain task next, but gives them the freedom to decide for themselves what they want to do first," the founder says.

Customers and partners from the global top 20

Goodly Innovation's previous customers and partners mainly include large and medium-sized companies from the pharmaceutical sector.

"6 of the global top 20 pharmaceutical companies are already working productively with OptiworX or are in the process of implementing the system," Hoffmeister reports.

But the startup could also spread its solution more widely in other industries: "We are currently active in the regulated sector. At the beginning, we wanted to supply the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical sector first, because we know this market and customers here can be sure that we understand their needs. However, Goodly now receives inquiries from other sectors, such as chemicals." Customers' motivations can vary, however. One is to seek greater capacity by reducing downtime. On the other, the system is used to increase product quality and achieve error-free process flow, or to train new employees efficiently and safely. OptiworX can therefore be used for a wide variety of use cases.

Enormous success with OptiworX

It is not only the flexible applicability of OptiworX that is convincing. Customers also report enormous successes through the use of the system. For example, processes could be accelerated by more than 50%, errors could be avoided by up to 100% and the onboarding training could be increased to the desired precision and speed already on the first day. Goodly Innovations was therefore rightly awarded the Innovations Award at the Pharma MES Congress in 2019, which is presented internationally once a year for innovations in the field of manufacturing execution. Goodly was able to beat big names from global corporations to the award.

Nose ahead in the regulated sector

Robert Hoffmeister is convinced that Goodly Innovations will be able to prevail over the competition:

"If someone is looking for a mature solution for the regulated sector, we are clearly ahead of the game."

Other companies also offer process management solutions, he said, but these are not adapted to the needs of the pharmaceutical industry, the regulatory requirements and the complexity of the processes. "To my knowledge, there is no other system that is able to dynamically map such complex processes, and then in turn make them available to any number of individual employees at the same time. And we're always looking hard at what the competition is up to," says the founder. Goodly Innovations also scores points in terms of data security: "If you look at standard solutions from competitors on the market, you see that they often cannot ensure, for example, how and where data is stored and managed in the cloud in a traceable manner. Goodly Innovations' solution is flexible here and does not necessarily work cloud-based, but on 'on premise'."

"We are Goodly INNOVATIONS- we want to evolve".

When asked whether OptiworX is on the market as a final developed product, Robert Hoffmeister can only smile: "Yes, we have a final developed and marketable product. But we always have numerous ideas that we want to and can continue to work on. After all, we are Goodly Innovations and not Goodly Innovation." At the moment, for example, the startup is looking at AI and gamification; training and onboarding tools to explain how to use the AR glasses and also OptiworX in a playful way and learn how to use them without pressure, as well as implementing new end devices. Other plans and goals for the future include global growth and further expansion of a partner network. "Across Europe, we are already represented in 7 countries. But we will also expand beyond Europe this year, not only targeting the most obvious Western regions, but also quite possibly into Asia. Our customers are global, so we need to grow in that direction as well and are stepping on the gas towards scaling globally," Hoffmeister tells us.

Goodly's expectations for 5-HT

In this respect and in the expansion of its partner network, Goodly Innovations is hoping for support from 5-HT. Robert Hoffmeister also sees opportunities in our cooperation with regard to orientation in new industries: "Up to now, we have been organically very firmly anchored in pharmaceuticals, but we see real potential in the chemical sector. Our software is not necessarily only suitable for pharmaceutical processes, but also for other industries. Here, I find it very interesting to be able to fall back on another network. Also events, round tables, lectures and the conversations afterwards are incredibly valuable because you can build the connections to related processes and industries."

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