XPAR Vision started as a development spinoff of the University of Groningen and won the Groningen Enterprise Award in 2014. Thanks to its advanced sensor and robot technology, it has become the world market leader in optimizing the quality of the glass containers. With XPAR Vision as a new member, Innovation Cluster Drachten now comprises 19 high-tech companies in Groningen, Fryslân and Drenthe.
“Collaboration pays off, certainly in the Northern Netherlands, and these companies show that municipal and provincial boundaries do not matter when it comes to Innovation,” said the new mayor of Smallingerland Jan Rijpstra, when he welcomed XPAR as a new ICD member on his second workday. “With this new member, the cluster gains a firm foothold in the Province of Groningen, which shows that the days of scoring points over each other are over.” Rijpstra said he was an enthusiastic supporter of innovative economic development. “The technological changes of today converge in industry and collaboration is a must. The example in point is the polymer printer the companies of the Innovation Cluster Drachten bought together. Making new things is what it is all about.’’
Out of the box
With its innovations, XPAR Vision is a perfect match with the other companies in the Innovation Cluster Drachten, according to Chairman Binne Visser. “With its software, sensors and robots, XPAR Vision has high level control over the production of glass containers. This is only possible if you inspire your engineers to think and design out of the box. These qualities not only make XPAR Vision a logical partner for our companies, but also an example for many companies in the Northern Netherlands.’’
Alderman Paul de Rook of the City of Groningen endorsed this point of view wholeheartedly. “Linking up with the Innovation Cluster Drachten does not only benefit this company but also the whole region.’’ With the cluster now covering the whole Northern Netherlands, the Alderman proposed a name change because the name no longer reflects its true scope. “Thanks to the Innovation Cluster, companies in the Northern Netherlands find each other more easily. They increase knowledge by sharing it and work together by ignoring municipal and provincial borders. My hope is that ICD will grow fast.’’
Creativity and especially courage are the prerequisites for innovation, according to Paul Schreuders, CEO of XPAR Vision. “You also need to be practical and, in our case, talk with many customers. We offer our customers a lot of support regarding the use of our equipment because we know that customers who use our equipment well are likely to buy our products again.” Schreuders underlined the importance of interaction with customers for his company because interaction could inspire new ideas. “We hope that our membership of the Innovation Cluster Drachten and the interaction with other high-tech companies will enrich us all and will accelerate innovation.’’
XPAR Vision is currently developing a special robot that will ensure that less glass is required to pack food. Current glass containers are 30 to 40 percent thicker than necessary. “The lubrication robot prevents the glass from sticking to the molds. As a result, the glass can be less thick,” explained Schreuders. The robot also reduces energy consumption and production costs. The Province of Groningen gave XPAR a subsidy of 131,000 euros to develop this robot to stimulate job growth in the Northern Netherlands.
XPAR Vision is a private-held Dutch company. Since its foundation in 1999, it is a specialist and market leader in advanced sensor and robot technologies for the glass industry. Their software and systems prevent production faults at an early stage, which helps the glass industry to reduce its scrap rate significantly. XPAR Vision’s method also leads to lower energy and material consumption. 15 highly trained experts help glass manufacturers make their products lighter and stronger, while improving their efficiency and production speed, reducing their ecological footprint, and making production processes less dependent on humans. More than 6000 systems in over 35 countries run on their software.