Tampere is a noteworthy hub of imaging in a global scale, says Matti Saarinen, former CEO at Helmee Imaging Ltd.
What does Helmee do?
– Helmee CSD® (Covered Stereo Deflectometry) is a sorting and quality inspection unit for glossy objects, such as chrome-plated plastics or metal, painted or polished parts. Typically it is used in online inspection of automotive parts that are mass produced and have extremely high quality requirements.
– Helmee CSD cell consists of two robots and an optical inspection module. While human inspection reaches an accuracy of 80%, our customers are reporting 99,97% accuracies with Helmee CSD.
What is the focus of your Tampere site?
– Tampere is the home of Helmee Imaging Ltd. This is where we design and develop our technology and make the CSD cells. The eyes and brain of the cell, i.e. the 3D camera system, optics and lighting technology and software are developed by us, robots by our subcontractors.
– Our cells are used in Europe, China and Mexico, negotiations in South Korea and Japan are in progress as we speak, and the US is under careful consideration.
– For very good reasons. The Tampere University of Technology (TUT) is one of the world’s top research institutes in signal processing. Tampere Region can provide the expertise needed to start and grow a business such as Helmee – and all the other machine vision companies around.
– Helmee is a 2013 spin-off from VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland), that was the first to develop machine vision systems in this country. It took quite a while to bring together a real customer need for automated inspection and the innovation that solved the challenge. After that the first prototype was made quickly, tested well and Helmee was founded.
What’s particularly strong in Tampere?
– We’ve already discussed the local imaging expertise, so let’s talk about the city development projects that are under way in Tampere. Our office is at the moment between two major construction sites, and I see that as a truly positive sign of activity. Tampere is building a modern tramway system and a central deck to house a multi-purpose arena, a hotel, and the city's tallest residential buildings.
Examples of partners in the Tampere Region:
– We have partners for robotics in the Tampere Region, such as JTA-Connection and Robotech or Saku Technics for mechanics. We’ve also found very good partners to help us with recruiting, marketing, business and personnel training etc.
– Tampere University of Applied Sciences is important for us, providing just the right kind of people we need to develop and market a high-tech product globally.
How did you become a machine vision entrepreneur?
– I’ve got my M.Sc. in Automation from TUT in 1999 and made my career in robotics and machine vision systems. I aim to keep learning new things, and that is why I’ve worked in several companies and at VTT which was the best place to gain a deep understanding of machine vision systems: cameras, optics, lights, software, the lot. I have really looked under the hood.
– As for the entrepreneurship, it runs in our family and was a natural choice for me, too.
What is your fondest memory in your career?
– Generally, pressing a start button for the first time and seeing that a new device is working has always been the best moment of engineering work for me.
– As an entrepreneur my fondest memory so far is Helmee’s first big deal in automotive industry. We are a small company from Finland and we promise to perform tasks that are usually deemed quite impossible. To be able to convince a customer and close a million-euro deal is really something to remember.
How do you see the future?
– Tampere is a noteworthy hub of imaging in a global scale, and I’m looking forward to brisk activities around machine vision and solving clients’ challenges. We should be proud of our expertise and aim towards a future where international top talents head for Tampere to work in our imaging-related companies.
Author: Päivi Stenroos
Mika-Petteri Kuro, CEO of Helmee Imaging Ltd.