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Looking Back @ 2020 with Ai

Adapting to COVID-19

Like the rest of the world, the beginning of 2020 at Advanced illumination did not shape up quite as we had planned.  However, in the spirit of adaptability, our team persevered and worked together to face these challenging times in new and unique ways.  Since our products support essential businesses and are necessary for the manufacturing of essential items, we maintained our production in our Vermont facility while adjusting workspaces and adopting rigorous cleaning practices. 

Says John Thrailkill, CEO and Co-Founder of Advanced illumination, “while it’s been a trying year in many ways, everyone has worked very hard and done a great job of battling through the COVID-19 challenges while maintaining the level of service our customers appreciate.  I can’t express how proud I am of the job everyone has done to keep their families, friends, and coworkers safe throughout these extraordinary times.”

Vermont Governor’s Wellness Award

Beginning the year on a positive note, we were informed in January that our workplace was selected to receive the 2020 Governor’s Excellence in Worksite Wellness Award.  The dedicated efforts of our Ai Wellness Team in 2019 included on-site health consultants, group physical activities, and healthful snacks available to all employees – resulting in a company-wide initiative of a more healthy and mindful working environment.

Digital Conference and Trade Show Participation

With the travel restrictions of COVID-19 came the cancellation and rescheduling of many trade shows in the industry.  Unfortunately, the AIA Boston Vision Show in June and the Vision Stuttgart Show in November were both affected.  However, online conferences presented a way to connect with our audiences and share our new products that continued to launch through 2020.  While many of those virtual trade shows have already passed, you can still view the Executive Roundtable from the International Vision Solutions Conference in which John Thrailkill, our CEO and Co-Founder, participated – view the session here. 

Although the future of 2021 is not entirely clear, we are slated to participate in the Vision Stuttgart Show in Stuttgart, Germany from October 5th-7th.  Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn or sign up for our monthly newsletter to keep up-to-date on our conference and trade show participation.

Sustainable Operations: Installation of Solar Panels

A new array of solar panels was installed in October, the most recent investment in our initiative to integrate sustainable business practices and economical manufacturing operations.  The solar panels are operating as a net meter and produce enough energy to cover at least 60% of our operational energy requirements; for additional information on the project, read our full blog post here.

New Advanced illumination Lighting Products

Several new products were engineered by our Ai Team this year, the first of which was the AL247 UltraSeal Washdown Bar Lights.  These Bar Lights were the second addition to our UltraSeal Washdown family of lights, featuring an IP69K certification, smooth-bodied and crevice-free housing, and a corrosive-resistant proprietary nickel finish.  Learn more about the AL247 Bar Lights here.

Shortly after the release of the Bar Lights, the new SL256 High Intensity Pattern Projecting Spot Lights were launched.  With a 9x increase in intensity to our existing SL191, the SL256 Spot Lights feature a large cluster of high-intensity LEDs to deliver more than 3x the intensity of the leading competitive structured light projector – making them ideal for applications requiring structured illumination.  Read our full blog on the SL256 High Intensity Pattern Projecting Spot Lights here.

In August, our team released the Multi-Channel Quad Controllers for computational imaging and Photometric Stereo.  The DCS-400E and DCS-800E are capable of sequenced strobing and ideal for applications that require multi-channel lights, such as Photometric Stereo, extended depth of field, combined bright field + dark field, high dynamic range, and high-resolution color.  For the full details and capabilities of the Quad Controllers, read the press release here.

Rounding out our product releases for 2020 are the new BL313 Medium Intensity Linear Backlights.  The BL313 Backlights deliver intense, diffuse illumination ideal for backlighting line scan and object silhouetting applications.  The Medium Intensity Linear Backlights are 17x brighter than our existing BL193, and their configurability by peak wavelength and emitting length offers tailored solutions for user applications.  Learn more about the BL313 Linear Backlights in our blog post here.

Additional Educational Resources for Machine Vision

To continue supporting the industry with machine vision lighting education, our team developed additional application notes and technical content dedicated to various challenges and solutions within machine vision lighting.

One comprehensive resource is our new Photometric Stereo website section, located here.  In this section, we include detailed information on the method of Photometric Stereo, how best to achieve surface contrast, necessary components, and application examples.  The full Photometric Stereo application note features more detailed technical information, expounding on the methods and considerations when deploying this technique. 

We also continued to release new videos on our YouTube channel to support users with our Lighting Education series.  Whether you’re interested in backlighting, dark field illumination, or the impact of lighting geometry on your inspection application, you’ll find a variety of educational content on our channel.

New Team Members Join Ai

Other exciting changes at Ai in 2020 included new customer-facing team members on the Sales and Marketing Teams.  In August, we welcomed Lindsay Thivierge to the Marketing Team as the new Creative Marketing Specialist.  Lindsay brings to Ai a strong background in design and branding with executive experience in the American Information Center for Color and Education, an organization largely focused on the human biological response to color, vision, and light.  Says Thieverge, “it is exciting being part of a collaborative and innovative team of people. The care and dedication that Ai puts into its products and services extends into the work environment and makes this a wonderful place to be. I look forward to what the future will bring at Ai and I am enjoying being a part of that process.”

Also joining the Ai Team in November was Grady Keopele.  Grady plays an integral role on the Ai Sales Team as the Customer Solutions Representative, providing our Sales Team and customers direct support on existing applications and product inquiries.  Echoing Thieverge’s sentiment, Keopele says, “as Customer Solution Representative, it makes my job both easier and more fulfilling to be working with a company that cares about both the quality of its products and customer satisfaction as much as Ai. I am looking forward to helping strengthen and grow Ai’s relationships with our distinguished customers.”

Looking Forward to 2021

While the circumstances of 2020 were far from ordinary, we are thankful for another year of consistent support from our partners, customers, and our Ai Team members.  We are unsure of what 2021 will bring, but we resolve to approach this year with the same innovation and enthusiasm as years past.

Our 2021 schedule includes participation in the upcoming Automate Forward digital conference, from March 22nd – 26th.  As mentioned earlier, we’re also planning to host a booth at the Vision Stuttgart Show from October 5th – 7th.  At these conferences, we intend to display recently released lighting products, along with some of our upcoming new products. 

Along with conference participation, we also plan to find new ways to engage with our customers and to share technical knowledge on LED lighting for machine vision.  Continue to follow us on social media or visit our website for new product announcements, additional educational content, and company updates throughout the year.