A critical issue across the manufacturing sector is the time-consuming engineering design process. There is a huge push towards digitizing as many of these designs as possible because having engineers hand-draw designs is time-consuming, labor-intensive and error-prone.
Cary-HQ’d Vectra Automation automates the generation of engineering drawings from 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD) models, which have largely replaced manual drawings for architects, engineers, and construction managers. CAD is able to help these groups visualize a product in 2D or 3D before it is actually made, to increase accuracy.
Vinod Kettay, the company’s CEO and Founder, said his goal is to make engineering drawings automated to save time—and, thus, money. It usually takes an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) about 4-to-6 weeks to have people create and review engineering drawings to identify errors, Kettay said. Vectra Automation reduces time spent on the engineering design process from a few weeks to several days.
“We are the first company in the world to be able to do this with software-based automation,” he said. “We just eliminate entirely the role of the human being in creating these engineering drawings.”
Before you can manufacture a product, you need a 3D image that represents every feature of it including the size, shape and thickness. 3D CAD modeling has been used in the Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) industry for the last 30+ years.
“Our software comes in and essentially automates the entire process of creating PMI and 2-dimensional engineering drawings,” he said.
Vectra Automation provides a product called Auto2D that can be used with all major CAD platforms including NX, CATIA V5, SolidWorks, and Inventor.
Vectra Automation pivoted in 2011 from being a design service company to a software-licensing company. After several years of R&D, Auto2D became available in 2016.
“We already demonstrated to customers in the automotive sector the cost of creating these engineering drawings… goes down by roughly 50%” when using Auto2D, Kettay said.
If you want to dive deep on how it works, Kettay has prepared this half-hour webinar on YouTube on automating the generation of engineering drawings.
The 60-person team has customers that typically generate revenue ranging from $500M to $1B, Kettay said. Vectra Automation’s target market is mainly Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) that make parts that are then usually used to produce a bigger, more complex product. While the company’s customers are mostly in the automotive sector, Kettay said Auto2D can be applied to the aerospace and defense sectors, companies that manufacture agricultural equipment, architecture firms, and other industries.
Kettay is based out of Cary, which is the company’s official HQ, but has many employees working virtually in India. He plans to move more employees into a physical office space and bring on board others in the U.S. to help his company branch out into the defense sector.
California-based VC firm Emerging Ventures recently invested $150K in Vectra Automation’s ongoing bridge round. After Vectra Automation provides a Proof of Capability, Kettay said, Italy-based Brembo Ventures will invest $500K-$750K. Kettay plans to close the bridge round in early October. So far, he has raised $1M out of an expected $2.25M in the bridge round.
Kettay next hopes to close a Series A round early in 2024. Once the Series A is complete, Kettay will bring on a sales team since the company currently does not have one.
Vectra Automation is using a consumption-based pricing model by charging customers based on the amount of designs they would need to make, rather than charging a fixed monthly rate for all customers. When a customer creates fewer designs and has less of an engineering workload, it would therefore pay less, while heavy users will pay more.