François Paradis, CEO & founder of Optomachines.
Optomachines was born in 1999 from the union of multiple skills rarely gathered :
Optics, the manufacture of industrial machines and knowledge in measurement, metrology, control and inspection. In addition to this, a particular experience in ceramics and in porcelain industry creates a very rare combination of skills.
Optomachines aims to exploit and develop this combination of multi competencies for supplying industrial measuring and control equipment with optics and image processing, destinated to various industries and activities.
From the beginning the company has worked on tableware inpection equipment. The difficulty consists of detecting white defects on brilliant, concave and convex white, for which a patent has been applied.
The company has a strong tradition of innovation, giving rise to several patents. We are the owner of a significant range of national and international patents.
In the first years the activity was focused on the manufacture of special machines for the industry: steel, glass, rubber, plastic and automobile, for controlling every kind of parts automatically, at high speed, and in particular or hard conditions (ex: incandescent products).
Then progressively the company started to develop products destinated to be duplicated and a product range has been created for the agronomic research and the seed production: grains counting, weighing, defects analysis, including the “Opto Agri”, “abc Rice”, etc…
At the same time we developped a system for laying and retrieving traffic cones. We have been often asked why that product, which doesn’t belong to our core activity.
I let you know the origin:
One day I was passenger in a car towards Paris. We passed a van of a motorway company, which was laying cones on the road. Suddenly I saw the operator’s head passing just 20 cm from the rear view mirror. We didn’t go fast, at 90 km/h, but I found this situation extremely dangerous for the operator. At that time I had five lovely daughters from 2 to 8 years old, and I thought of this man who could also be a father.
My first reaction was to say that we needed to find a system for avoiding an operator to be exposed to such a danger. Furthermore he is obliged to stoop, to lean and to lift cones hundreds of times.
I took my paper block and draw a solution which seemed realistic to me, and I told to myself it should work. Then I decided to store it in a drawer, because it had nothing to do with control and measuring machines. Three years later, I met with a manager of a motorway company, Autoroutes Paris-Rhin-Rhône, and I asked him if this kind of solution was of interest for him. He told me yes, a lot, but he wanted to have a demonstration, because he had seen so many systems that didn’t work.
I built the very first prototype, very basic, just for validating the principle. It worked on the first try. Then we’ve made a second one, functioning with a few iron tubes and rolls. It also worked.
Then I decided to manufacture something more professional, and APRR helped us to finance the construction of the first industrial prototype, which has given good results enough, so that APRR ordered one to check the feasibility on the road. And we did it.
Step by step we developped the system and we’ve filed a patent shared with APRR in order to protect our invention. At the moment this is the sole industrial system that runs at a dozen of copies in Europe.
François Paradis, CEO Optomachines.
1999: creation of the company
2006: relocation to new premises. A 700 m² factory specially built for Optomachines.
2012: Creation of a sales position for developping the turnover of standard products. This hadn’t been done previously, because the market of special machines requires huge technical skills. This was the beginning of the internationalisation of the company.
2016: The INRA has ordered a post-harvest phenotyping robot line: a beautiful multidisciplinary achievement and a new innovation.
Other important facts: our first sales in new countries and continents, like Asia, South Africa in 2015, USA and Canada in 2016, etc… Our catchment area is growing step by step…