“ERI allowed us to materialise our ideas and transform then into a spin-out. One of the reasons to stay in Scotland is to benefit from the company support.”
While Dr Carlos Labra was a research associate at the University of Edinburgh, the market, including industry-giant Proctor and Gamble, came to the research group, asking that the technology be turned from an academic tool into a solution that could be used by the industry.
Carlos answered and spun his company out from the university in 2014, forming Particle Analytics in 2015. Carlos was in the enviable position of having Proctor and Gamble on board as an early adopter, paying for a license of a product that had not yet been yet fully developed.
Shortly after winning his first contract, Carlos won a SMART award was able to get development underway. Currently Particle Analytics have no direct competitors. While there are already commercial solutions for the computer modelling of granular materials processes, the results and difficult to analyse and mainly show a problem rather than solving it.
The Particle Analytics platform works with any modelling software, and solves the complexities of preparing and analysing simulations. Analysis that would take a week in setup, simulations and analysis using high performance computers and requiring PhD-level expertise, now takes only a few hours and could be performed by an undergraduate engineering student.
Some of the many applications of Particle Analytics include mining, construction, chemical and pharmaceutical processes.
In pharmaceuticals, Particle Analytics can aid in understanding the mixing process and helping achieving the optimal conditions – on both the processing side and in the process’ design.
In mining, Particle Analytics can help in understanding better what will happen during the excavation process begins - how rock will break, machine interaction, etc.
In another example, the design of a silo and how it discharges, from initial processes to the final report on the silo design would have taken 1-2 weeks before Particle Analytics. In the design of a mixer drum, designers would go through 20-30 simulations to decide which design is best.
Before Particle Analytics, the cost for both manpower and time in these designs was high. The Particle Analytics platform reduces the time before and after simulation – saving up to 80% across the preparation and analysis time required. There is also a possible future lateral market in fluid dynamics, as granular material modelling and analysis tools could also be used in fluid dynamics.
Shortly after forming, Particle Analytics had already won their second contract – a major US construction machinery manufacturer, Astec Inc. Within two months of adopting Particle Analytics’ software, they were able to optimise the design of their machinery.
Within six months of spinning out, industry leaders Pfizer and Johnson Matthey were also using Particle Analytics’ software. Talks are already in the works with other leading industrial and research organisations worldwide to become additional early adopters. The first commercial release is planned for Autumn 2016.
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