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Tuesday August 9th, 2022
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Iris, a major player in the glass quality control market, celebrates its 20th anniversary by displaying its ambitions in Industry 4.0

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Iris Inspection machines, a subsidiary of Wisetec Group, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Specializing in the design and production of inspection robots to detect glass defects, it has established itself over the years as one of the spearheads of the packaging glass vision control industry worldwide. With its good economic health due to massive investments in R&D and a diversified customer base on five continents, IRIS Inspection machines aims to increase its turnover and workforce by 50% within three years.

Flagship of the industry, recognized in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Iris Inspection machines has become in 20 years the European leader in vision inspection solutions for glass containers produced in large series, whatever their shape or color.

After ten years in the glass group BSN, future Danone, where they met – the group was then led by Antoine Riboud – Jean-Luc Logel and Philippe Volay bought Centralp, a specialist in embedded electronic systems in 2000. They see technological developments, including the use of rugged PCs in industrial environments and raster cameras, as bundles of opportunities in the field of glass production. By investing heavily in innovation, the company has positioned itself as a pioneer since its creation by launching the innovative concept of 16 cameras, compared to 6 then referenced on the inspection machine market.

"This innovation was the company's first marker. This system of 16 cameras offers 12 angles of view with 2 cameras positioned on the same vertical axis to take two simultaneous shots. We were able to double the resolution of the complete view of the bottle, multiply the angles of observation and be twice as precise on the inspection," explains Jean-Luc Logel, President of Iris Inspection machines.

Innovation: an integral part of the company's DNA

In 2014, the company continues to distinguish itself by its ability to innovate and the quality of its R&D teams with the introduction of high-definition cameras. By increasing the resolution of images and consequently the accuracy in defect recognition, IRIS continues its ascent in the packaging glass inspection sector in Europe and worldwide.

It was in 2018, the year of the commercialization of the Evolution Neo range, that lris Inspection machines switched as the European leader in the sector.

The implementation of artificial intelligence in this new range of machines is a new digital frontier that revolutionizes the recognition of glass defects. Based on machine learning techniques, the machine learns to recognize and classify defects with the precision of the eye of an experienced glassmaker, and the repeatability of a computer processing power.

Artificial intelligence as a new eldorado for Iris

With the advent of Industry 4.0, IRIS Inspection machines is positioned as the forefront of technology. Having become the pillar of this digital revolution, the company is now focusing on artificial intelligence with the ambition to go even further.

While riA is able to significantly improve inspection, it does not replace glass experts. Glass is a unique material; the knowledge and experience of glassmakers in its production is essential if you want to optimize your manufacturing process.

The new challenge for the Irls team: combining the power of their iA solution and glass know-how.

«Innovation has always been our founding axis. We have given ourselves the means to
become a pioneer and be today a reference and ambitious player in Industry 4.0
with artificial intelligence and its ability to improve productivity. This is evidenced by the 17% of expenses in the R&D department in 2021
," explains Jean-Luc Logel.

Today, 5 to 10% of glass production on average in a glassworks is destined for scrapping. With artificial intelligence, Iris' leitmotiv is to work closely with glassmakers to achieve the goal of "zero defects".

A full order book and strong ambitions for the next three years

Thanks to the shift taken by the glass industry to reduce its carbon footprint and a strong demand for glass capacity in Europe (3 to 5 million unique tons for Germany, Italy and France compared to 4 million tons for the United States and Canada combined), production will continue to increase in the months and years to come.

"We don't produce enough glass for European demand. At Iris, we have an order book that allows us to see the future serenely thanks to the technological shift we have taken. In 2021, we have sold no less than 150 machines and we have an opening on the international market, especially in Turkey and Mexico, which indicates that we will exceed this figure. I am optimistic for the future of the company and the sector," concludes Jean-Luc Logel.

An optimism that is reflected in the workforce projections. With nearly €20 million in revenue in 2022, Iris expects revenue growth of 50% over the next three years. The same goes for employees: with 45 currently, it aims to increase its workforce by 50%. The company is also expanding into the service where more than half of the workforce is mobilized to serve customers. To be as close as possible to its customers through their expertise and to be a pioneer in innovation, a raison d'être that has led Iris to international success and to look to the future with serenity and ambition.

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