Source: Vention

Turning Manufacturers Into Kids in Candy Stores

It's tough to turn a great design idea into a real product that can be produced at scale. Enter this drag-and-drop, AI-assisted web platform.


Bringing great new devices to the market takes more than establishing a working prototype. A manufacturing process is also needed, and so the final stage is to build more machines to actually make the machines on the assembly line.

Most of the time this is customized work, and teams of engineers need to develop equipment to deliver the quality and quantities needed for their products to stay cost-competitive. This can be an expensive and lengthy process that can delay product launches by several months.

Quebec’s Vention entered the design space with this problem in mind. Their solution is a web-based platform with digital tools that designers can use to simplify the process. In one digital environment, clients can design, program, simulate, and order customized equipment, resulting in significant time and cost savings when compared to traditional methods.

“It became obvious to us that the next frontier for faster machine design wasn’t better design tools or higher performance hardware, but rather the integration between the two,” said CEO Etienne Lacroix to Engineering.

“The launch of our beta program is a first step in enabling our partners to experience a novel design and build a workflow that will accelerate the machine design process more than fivefold.”

The platform is free and works similarly to other design programs where users drag and drop components onto a scene to start developing an idea. Meanwhile, Vention’s AI helps by observing what the designer is trying to achieve and suggests components. The Lego-like nature of the components makes the assembly process highly intuitive and straightforward. This simplicity is also part of what makes next-day shipping possible with Vention.

Vention currently has a library of over 500 components and more than 400 ready-to-order designs contributed to the platform by other users. Their customer base — which includes General Electric, Bombardier, Tesla, and Siemens — has been used to create all sorts of equipment, from testing benches and pallet stackers to devices that move robots up and down assembly lines.

Once a customer is finished designing their new toy, they can order the parts through the platform. After the order is in, Vention goes about picking the parts for the kits and they’re shipped out to the client for next-day delivery, as opposed to the months that companies typically have to wait to get customized equipment.

Moreover, making design tools widely available through a free platform like Vention’s helps the many small design firms struggling against the corporate giants. Being able to rapidly develop tailored and affordable manufacturing equipment can make all the difference when trying to compete.

“The underlying opportunity is the fact there’s a desire to drive more speed and agility inside the world of manufacturing,” said Ajay Agarwal, a partner with investor Bain Capital, to the Globe and Mail. “Vention has really hit on a nerve here and a huge market need… I think the biggest opportunity for the company is scaling up awareness.”

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Barry is a journalist, editor, and marketer for several media outlets including HeadStuff, The Media Editor, and Buttonmasher Magazine. He earned his Master of the Arts in Journalism from Dublin City University in 2017 and moved to Toronto to pursue a career in the media. Barry is passionate about communicating and debating culture, science, and politics and their collective global impact.