BlueRidge.AI raises $1.9M to bring machine learning to factory floors - Baltimore


Jun. 27, 2019 1:55 pm

BlueRidge.AI raises $1.9M to bring machine learning to factory floors

Founded by NSA alum Lloyd Clark, the company is building its business at Fulton, Md.-based DataTribe.

L to R: BlueRidge.AI Product Lead Tom Leuchtner, Software Engineer Anton Alexnder and CEO Lloyd Clark.

(Courtesy photo)

Lloyd Clark is applying experience gained working with data inside the intelligence community to the manufacturing industry.

The former strategic AI leader at the Fort Meade-based National Security Agency is the founder of BlueRidge.AI. The startup recently received a $1.9 million investment from Fulton-based startup studio DataTribe, which works with founders who have experience working on what its leaders have called “over the horizon” technology inside the region’s federal institutions to build commercial tech companies.

BlueRidge.AI’s technology aims to help keep the machines on factory floors up and running, and ultimately make processes more simpler. It started with a focus on the heavy industrial electric motors that are used by manufacturers and other entities like large hospitals. A big problem that manufacturers face is downtime. When the motor isn’t running due to an issue, Clark said it can be costly.

The startup applied machine learning and predictive analytics to this problem, Clark said. It created a multi sensor to take readings from the motor, and detect problems. It could be running unexpectedly, or doing something that poses a risk to workers. With the data, the company can make predictions that ultimately helps provide key info to keep the machines up and running.

Clark called it the “perfect use case” for machine learning and deep learning. He said it’s applying the technology to the “dull, dirty, dangerous” work of the machine’s upkeep.

“It’s not sending out any data,” Clark said. “We’re putting a multi sensor on it, it’s streaming a lot of data and then we’re building models to do something with that data.”

The company takes its name from a repair business that has a key role in the technology’s development. Like many looking to apply these techniques, the company sought out a dataset that would help build an accurate model, but couldn’t find one for heavy industry.

Ultimately, the company ended up buying out a repair services shop that specializes in the motors in Winchester, Va., called Blue Ridge Electric Service. It provided plenty of source material to “train” the models that tell the sensors what issues to look for.


“Any given morning there’s a whole loading dock filled with every failure you can imagine,” Clark said.

The shop opened in 1952, and has proximity to plenty of heavy industry shops that also served as early users, Clark said.

The company is now looking to install its sensors on other machines on a factory floor, adding to the types of data it collects.

Along with the investment, the company is now working out of DataTribe’s offices in Fulton, where the startup studio’s team is providing mentoring and business-building resources. And the company is planning to grow its team of 11, both adding talent in its engineering and sales teams.

“Lloyd and his team have developed a technology that is literally 3 to 4 generations ahead of the current technology landscape. It is a huge overlooked problem they are solving,” DataTribe CEO Mike Janke said in a statement. “The DataTribe team is excited to co-build with Lloyd and his team and make smart manufacturing a reality for all.”

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