Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Windsor firm gets ready for its close-up

July 23, 2012
By Alison Dunn

With a little help from a popular TV “dragon,” Radix Controls, a Windsor, Ont.-based automation technology provider, is ready to launch a new vision-based camera system.

 Radix is currently a participant on the CBC television show The Big Decision. With some help from Dragon’s Den star Jim Treliving, Radix has launched its new system, called Tool Tracker, designed to help manufacturers assure part quality during automated assembly.

As part of the show, Radix founder Ross Rawlings, along with the company’s vice president Shelley Fellows, were tasked with launching Tool Tracker at a special event at Toronto’s Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Monday. Rawlings gave the audience a high-tech presentation of Tool Tracker’s capabilities, along with an overview of the benefits for manufacturers.

The system is guided by cameras that monitor and report any errors being made in a particular manufacturing system. What Rawlings says makes Tool Tracker unique is that it could help manufacturers implement a vision system without the pain of a major integration product.


“It’s hard to do specialized, one-off integration projects. Every one of them is a new piece,” Rawlings said after the product launch. “Where, if I have software like Word for Windows, making the first one may be hard, but I just make CD copies and it’s easier.  Not saying that’s an exact analogy, but I want to give people a tool that can leverage what we’ve gone through to make things far simpler.”

The company is using the CBC show as a chance to showcase its innovation as well as get some expert advice from Treliving, owner of Boston Pizza. But was a reality TV show the place to do that?

“We debated about that,” Rawlings admitted. “There was a bit of a reputation that The Big Decision’s about a company that may be in trouble. And we’re certainly not in trouble… The thing is, we were at the decision point of switching the context of what we want to do.

“It’s been a fantastic exercise to go through,” he added. “Jim is a very insightful gentleman. On the first day he walked in our building, an hour later, he keyed in on some things I never thought he would be able to key in on. His help has been great. The knowledge I’ve been learning from Jim is fantastic.”

“This is a good-looking company for us,” Treliving agreed. “These are ideas Radix has used for a long time. They’ve been around 20 years, so they’ve got 20 years of shelf programs… there’s something there that they [other manufacturers] can pick off the shelf and not have to spend years learning.”

The Big Decision, CBC’s business reality show featuring Treliving and Arlene Dickinson, shows the investors on a mission to spend their time and money to help Canadian companies succeed. If Radix completes all of Treliving’s challenges, it could be given a substantial investment.

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