Pharmaceutical Commerce - June 2018 - 12
F E AT U R E
A Conversation with Louis Roy,
Traceability will lead to better pharma supply chains and
BY NICHOLAS BASTA
ptel Vision-now Optel Group-has been a leader in developing the machine vision
systems integral to the labeling and inspection processes on pharma packaging lines, a
business it has focused on for over a decade. In fact, the company traces its roots back
to the late 1980s, when company president Louis Roy graduated from engineering school, with
a goal of applying automation technology to solve manufacturing problems. Fast forward to
2017, and the company is now going beyond the pharma traceability topic that has been its bread
and butter. It is now positioning itself to developing "intelligent supply chains" for all parts of
healthcare (pharma, medical device and health systems) as well as agro-food businesses and
other consumer goods. An acquisition was made last year for an enterprise-level traceability
software platform (Verify Brand) and, in February, a geomatics company (GeoTraceability) that
specializes in traceability tied to geolocation. Once brought together, Optel Group will have the
potential to provide traceability from raw materials (food, APIs, medical components) through
the manufacturing processes, and on to the consumer.
That goal might be getting ahead of Optel's industry clients,
but according to Roy, that's just fine. "We are on a mission,"
he says, "to solve society's problems." These problems include:
the patient risks of counterfeit medicines; the waste in pharma
and medical device supply chains; and the overall goal of
sustainable economic activity in the face of climate change.
To these ends, Optel has gone through the evaluation process
of becoming a "certified B corporation." (B Lab, which runs a
certification process, is a global nonprofit founded in 2006, with
ed slogan of "people using business
as a force for good." Nearly 1,000 companies had passed the
fairly rigorous certification process in 2014, according to B Lab
data on its website.) Roy says that Optel's commitment is to its
customers, its employees, and to future generations.
An indirect validation of this comprehensive approach can
12 \ Visit our website at www.PharmaceuticalCommerce.com \ 06.2018
be seen from Optel's leadership in the Canadian government's
Innovation SuperCluster Initiative, under which public and
private funding will support the AI-Powered Supply Chain
Consortium, in which Optel joins with 120 other Canadian
companies to support R&D in this area.
Pharmaceutical Commerce sat down with Mr Roy recently;
here's what he had to say.
How did Optel start, and what was it doing in its
I founded the company in 1989 at the end of my
engineering education, after I had had a great introduction
to computers, industrial automation and artificial
intelligence. I had a goal at that time of using the technology
I had learned to make a difference in our society. In our