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Measurement methods on display

Matthew Dale charts the history of Admesy, a test and measurement company with its roots at Philips

Ten years ago, before the iPad was conceived, three engineers – Marcel Janssen, Ruud Bouten, and Peter Franssen – working on mobile displays at Philips, left the company to begin their own venture. From their collective experience at the Dutch technology company, the trio recognised a need for inline colour and light measurement test systems for the displays they were producing. The test equipment they used at Philips was developed mainly for research and development labs, as well as other laboratories or engineering departments. Often these devices were overly complicated, too expensive and too difficult to use in standard production environments.

In 2006 the engineers left the Philips division they were working at in Heerlen in the south of The Netherlands to start their own technology company, Admesy, now headquartered in Ittervoort. Janssen and Bouten both still have roles at the company as CTO, while Franssen is no longer involved.

Admesy was founded with the objective of developing advanced measurement systems (the name Admesy derives from the initial two letters of the three words ‘advanced measurement systems’) for use in production environments. This included light meters, colorimeters, spectrometers and 2D systems. Since then, Admesy has grown swiftly into an international company, serving customers all over the world. ‘We have been active internationally from the start,’ said Steven Goetstouwers, CEO of Admesy, ‘mainly focusing on Asia where the large [display] production sites are located.’ Goetstouwers joined Admesy in late 2012 after working at NV Industriebank LIOF, a regional venture capital investor.

The experience Admesy’s founders gained from working with mobile displays at Philips helped them develop the test equipment. Both large and small displays can encounter variation in colour, luminance and flicker from imperfections picked up in the production process. The founders realised that filtering or adjusting these optical characteristics early on in manufacture could save time, increase yields and ultimately increase customer satisfaction. To ensure the quality of the end-product was up to a high standard, Admesy advised its customers to test displays at several stages during the production process. The first colorimeters developed at Admesy targeted this application, and further developments in its product line went on to look at Solid-state lighting testing, colour characteristic testing of materials, and light analysis in research and development.

Over the coming years, Admesy went through multiple phases in product development. Initially the company built the Brontes, a series of robust, high-speed, high-precision colorimeters made especially for colour and luminance measurement in display and lighting applications. As the company gained experience in the field, this soon grew into a wider range of colorimeters, including those which could take reflective measurements, gloss measurements and measurements on textiles. The company went on to focus its direction on display measurements once again, developing its successful MSE series colorimeter, which is now used in many of the high-end mobile display production lines. Through maintaining awareness of its customers’ needs, Admesy then expanded its product range to include three complete series of spectrometers along with a 2D spectral imaging system. Now, as it stands, Admesy’s range of products not only covers various display applications, but also other markets such as LED, lighting or the OEM integration of spectrometers. 

In 2013, Admesy opened an office near Seoul in Korea to give better assistance to the company’s many Asian customers. ‘What we noticed is that our customers wanted us to be close to them to help them out when they needed to implement our products with other test systems or on production lines,’ explained Goetstouwers. ‘The amount of technical expertise you need for such implementation, or to find the best measurement setup often goes beyond what one can expect from a distributor.’ The company is now working towards setting up another office in China, Goetstouwers added. ‘These support offices haven’t changed the way in which we work; actually, it has increased one of our focus areas, which is helping the customer to figure out the best system and helping them set this up,’ he said.

Over the past ten years, the test and measurement sector has changed markedly. ‘What we have noticed is that with the “democratisation” of photonics, and with photonic systems and equipment becoming easier to use and more affordable, new applications have arisen,’ said Goetstouwers. According to Goetstouwers, these applications are often triggered by entrepreneurs and engineers from outside the traditional photonics industry.

As with all developing businesses, certain challenges had to be overcome during the growth and development of Admesy. ‘I think any businessman who claims he didn’t encounter any challenges during the start of his company must be lying,’ said Goetstouwers. ‘Our main challenge was to keep the balance between a high-end measurement system and the user-friendliness and affordability we want to offer to our customers. And, if I do say so myself, I think we have succeeded in this very well.’ Looking to the future, Admesy seeks to gain further traction in the photonics measurement market, along with expanding more into the multiple industries it is already serving. ‘Over the last couple of years we have vastly expanded our product range, also offering solutions for other industries. We hope to grow the company covering display, lighting, analytical and OEM solutions of light meters, colourimeters, spectrometers and 2D systems,’ he added.

Admesy is already well-established in the photonics industry. The company was placed 17th in the 2015 Dutch Deloitte Fast 50 ranking, a list of the 50 fastest growing technology companies in The Netherlands. The ranking is based on a company’s strategy and how much research it conducts. Admesy has also won the Golden FD Gazelle for SME companies in Limburg, a yearly award presented to fast growing companies organised by the financial newspaper FD.

Goetstouwers commented that inline test and measurement is becoming more important, partially due to the increasing complexity – and therefore chance of variation during manufacture – of displays in everyday products. Admesy aims to help its customers prevent product variation, starting from the design phase.