PRAGMA designs, manufactures and distributes portable instruments and integrated systems for nondestructive testing (NDT) of materials.

Interview with François Mainguy, CEO of PRAGMA.

Easy Engineering: How was 2023 for your business, a short summary?

François Mainguy: In 2023, PRAGMA experienced a pivotal year with the introduction of the first product in a new line of portable instruments—the sixth generation I created since 2001. The excitement comes from the incorporation of NDE 4.0 principles into the design of this new portable platform. With a growing interest in NDE 4.0 over the past few years, the development of enhanced capabilities within our software ecosystem prompted us to transition these innovations into a portable format, giving rise to the new line of portable instruments.

E.E: How did the market change, compared to previous years?

F.M: The market witnessed several competitors discontinuing specific product lines, signaling a potential shift where these players prioritize profitability at the expense of customer support. Economic factors, such as interest rates, inflation, and market uncertainties, have impacted companies’ enthusiasm and motivation to confirm CAPEX budgets, placing pressure on NDT instrument and solution providers to deliver proven value throughout the entire chain.

E.E: What are the new challenges in your field of activity?

F.M: For PRAGMA, the challenge lies in pioneering the convergence of metrology with NDT, pushing the boundaries of what’s feasible. Continual efforts are directed towards addressing complexities in new geometries, materials, and automation. This positions PRAGMA favorably as a trailblazer in defining its own path.

E.E: How did you overcome these challenges in this more competitive environment?

F.M: Innovation remains the key, not just any innovation but one that clearly demonstrates added value for the customer. Too often in NDT have we operated in silo, with not much consideration for the digital workflow of companies and the overall operational efficiency. PRAGMA has been working really hard in the last couple years, and now it’s especially visible how we can solve digital workflow problems with our productions and solutions driven by Pragma3D.

E.E: Tell us about product innovation and how will it impact the future?

F.M: Market dynamics, often perceived as saturated, necessitate disruptive innovations that break existing barriers and integrate NDT more seamlessly within organizations and operations. Product innovation is envisioned to drive this necessary change.

E.E: What are the industry trends in the markets you are currently active in?

F.M: Prominent trends include the ongoing emphasis on automation, with collaborative robots (cobots) gaining traction. Additionally, there is a general trend towards multi-modality (ultrasound, eddy current, visual, radiography, etc.) and a heightened interest in file exchange. The infusion of imaging and digital technologies is contributing to the appeal of NDT, especially among the younger workforce.

E.E: What do you think the trends will be next year? What is the outlook for 2024?

F.M: Anticipated trends for the coming year align with the existing conditions, with 2024 expected to resemble 2023 in terms of macroeconomic parameters. Predictions include a potential decrease in interest rates by central banks and a revival of the German market’s leadership with Industrie 4.0 technologies.