From No-Bot to Robot: Installing Autonomous Material Handling Vehicles for Manufacturing or Warehousing in 5 Easy Steps

From No-Bot to Robot:

Installing Autonomous Material Handling Vehicles for Manufacturing or Warehousing in 5 Easy Steps

It is now well known that autonomous material handling vehicles (the next generation of automated guided vehicles or AGVs) are the best solution to supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and variable consumer demand. The problem for many of those yet to automate is not deciding whether to automate but knowing where to begin.

While this process may seem daunting, in fact, five simple steps will take you from no-bots to robots. You can get started on your automation journey today and have autonomous material handling vehicles operating in your facility in as few as three months. Read on to find out what a complete automation integration process looks like with Vecna Robotics.

Step 1: Assess

autonomous material handling vehicles warehouse robots

Every automation strategy is unique, just like every facility is unique. With an ever-evolving ecosystem of workflows and operations, your business will need a solution that is adaptable to realistic conditions. That’s why it is best to start with your most pressing pain points.

When it comes down to it, most autonomous material handling vehicles take on existing non-value-added travel. The recent boom in e-commerce has wreaked havoc on all kinds of material handling facilities, causing bottlenecks and lost efficiency in fulfillment, case-picking, milk runs and more. Repetitive, wasteful pallet movements become more costly each day. This is where automation, and our team’s expertise, really comes into play.

Once our team identifies pain points and automation opportunities in your facility, we get started on your assessment overview and ROI estimate. We’ll factor in conditions that affect your investment’s returns, which include the number of operating shifts, facility size, and layout (think ‘bigger is better’).

Following this initial assessment process, you’ll have the information you need to make a smart decision for your bottom line.

Step 2: Plan

After your facility has been scoped for automation, it’s time to dig a little deeper. We’ll look at key facility data that will show calculable, categorical improvement opportunities – specifically, factors like throughput, route convergence, and traffic density. When this information is applied to a CAD drawing of your facility, the solutions team can identify and plan the best routes for your autonomous material handling vehicles.

Now it’s time to test! Our experts use proprietary simulations to better visualize your outcomes. Here is what that process looks like:

  • Select target workflow
  • Perform simulation with realistic conditions
  • Start with turnkey solutions and limited customization
  • Initiate production use-cases
  • Establish clear metrics and requirements

At the end of this analysis period, you’ll have a plan that determines the optimal size of your initial fleet, which workflows to automate first, the range of scalability available to you, and the system requirements you’ll need. Most importantly, you’ll have verified ROI and KPIs, and a set of benchmark goals that will measure your automation system’s success.

Step 3: Deployment

It is officially time to launch! In addition to providing major efficiency gains, AMRs require none of the disruptive or permanent infrastructural changes of legacy automation systems like Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). Instead, autonomous material handling vehicles integrate seamlessly into your operations and your existing WMS.

Our deployment team does the heavy lifting, taking care of the entire installation process from mapping and configuration to installation and optimization. Within days, your fleet is prepared to get to work.

However, while your facility is ready for robots –your employees might not be. At this stage, company attitudes can make or break your investment. A critical part of the deployment stage is employee onboarding.  To facilitate integration, we familiarize employees with the technology through demonstrations and use-cases. Beyond official training and documentation, we also initiate proven methods to incentivize adoption.

KEY TIP: Test your integration early and often, and be sure to check in with employees frequently! You’ll want to monitor your staff’s patterns of usage and understanding of the navigation systems, as well as take suggestions for process improvements.  

Step 4: Learn

Now that the fleet is up and running, the only thing left to do is let your robots learn! Our robots use the Pivotal Software Suite, a cutting-edge technology that enables self-learning capabilities. With Pivotal, the vehicles are able to share knowledge that fast tracks optimization.

The key to success at this stage is metrics – you can’t track what you don’t measure. Beyond our robots’ inherent data-gathering capabilities, we provide 24/7 support and monitoring with documentation of their progress and efficiency gains. Regular check-in meetings with our team will identify any changes that can boost performance, as well as opportunities for scaling. We encourage one maintenance check per year, as well as quarterly meetings to track ROI and business goal alignment.

Step 5: Scale

We know that scalability is the key to a successful automation investment, so we keep this in mind from the start. Every implementation starts with expansion in mind – meaning we keep track of network capabilities, workflow planning, shift scheduling, and opportunities for added robots. When you’re ready to expand your fleet, the learned knowledge of your operating robots will automatically be uploaded into your new robots. This means there are minimal disruptions for growth – it’s quick and easy. Even better, with our Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) program, you’ll actually see more savings as your fleet grows.

KEY TIP: Share your ideas for expansion or improvement early so our team can get a head start on meeting your goals. Timing can be instrumental in maximizing ROI, and our team is happy to create preliminary estimates for additional automation projects.

Now, you’re in the big leagues. In five easy steps, you have installed autonomous material handling vehicles that operate with a 99% uptime. You’ll experience heightened levels of efficiency, reduced worker turnover, and market adaptability only made possible with automation.

To learn more about getting from no-bots to robots, download this free webinar recording,

or contact us and start your automation journey today.

Vecna Robotics Raises $65 Million to Automate Material Handling

Supply chain conditions have been rapidly worsening in recent years, and the industry is fraught with challenges such as labor shortages, freight delays, and unpredictable demand surges: all of which increase costs and diminish throughput. The need for automation grows more visible by the day, and Vecna Robotics is leading the way in providing solutions. A $65 million Series C investment round, led by both existing partners and new additions such as Lineage Logistics, Proficio Capital Partners, and Impulse, is being used to expand operations and order fulfillment.

“There is huge headroom for growth in automated material handling with over 5 billion pallets in the world being moved by more than 5 million forklifts and nearly 5 million manual operators,” said Craig Malloy, CEO of Vecna Robotics. “This investment, led by such a prominent and supportive group of investors, will allow us to accelerate our roadmap and deliver solutions to the market faster in order to meet the insatiable demand for increased throughput in material handling environments like factories and warehouses.”

Read about this exciting new stage:

 

autonomous warehouse robots

 

More Coverage:

Robotics World, Vecna Robotics Raises $65M to Expand Material Handling Automation
Robotics and Innovation, Vecna Robotics secures US$65m for AMR development
The Robot Report, Vecna Robotics raises $65M in Series C funding
Robotics 24/7, Vecna Robotics Picks up $65M Series C for Materials Handling Automation
Robotics and Automation News, Vecna Robotics raises $65 million in Series C funding
Modern Materials Handling, Vecna Robotics gains $65 million in Series C funding
DC Velocity, Vecna Robotics reloads with $65 million venture round for AMRs and software

 

 

AMRs vs AGVs: How Autonomous Warehouse Robots Navigate Industrial Facilities

 

The navigation of autonomous warehouse robots is the key performance indicator that will dictate the returns of investments in autonomy. Listen to Dr. Zachary Dydek, Chief Technology Officer at Vecna Robotics, speak about the intelligent technology that sets autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) apart from other automated solutions.

 

How Autonomous Warehouse Robots Navigate Industrial Facilities

While AMRs carry out the same functions as existing legacy automation systems like automated guided vehicles (AGVs), they do so using advanced navigation methods that allow them to vastly outperform other solutions. To first understand how they are able to do this, its important to understand how path-following AGVs traditionally operate. Like trains on a track, AGVs follow predetermined routes — typically using magnets installed in the floor or by tracking painted lines. Beyond the disruptive installation process that this entails, this means that the vehicles are limited and unable to adapt to anything that may interrupt their path. “With path-following, that’s all you can do,” says Dydek, “If something is in the way, it just stops and waits for someone to help.”

In comparison, AMRs are path-planners, meaning they use programmed intelligence to make decisions about where to go, and when. “They do more thinking, they understand how the world is connected,” says Dydek, “They reason about how to move in the facility like a person would.” With this technology, AMRs are able to negotiate space with better efficiency. Through the use of local sensors and onboard computing, they are able to navigate around other drivers and manual equipment, quickly figuring out the best possible response to their surroundings. “AMRs think like people and deal with challenges that invariably come up,” says Dydek, “Those challenges aren’t the exception to the rule – they are the rule.”

“It’s an important distinction. Path planning is a lot more flexible.” says Dydek on the benefits this navigation approach offers. He explains that AMRs have to look at the world and calculate how things move. When faced with other objects, an AMR will determine if it makes sense to leave its path and go around its obstacle by assessing how much time and space certain movements require.  “It has to make some pretty complicated decisions to do that,” says Dydek, “It knows how to negotiate the space with other drivers or obstacles and still move quickly and efficiently.”

The Need for Intelligent Obstacle Avoidance

autonomous warehouse robotsDydek highlights the indisputable importance of obstacle avoidance and reasoning with data taken from operating facilities. He explains that 80% of the time, pallet movements carried out by Vecna Robotics’ pallet trucks require obstacle avoidance to make progress in their task. This means the robot can move more, save time and operate without human intervention. Without this technology, the robot would stop 80% of the time and wait for a worker to move the obstacle out of its way. “By having this feature, you’re really increasing the efficiency of the system,” Dydek explains, “You’re letting people do what people are good at, and allowing the robot to do its work.” In a dynamic environment like a warehouse, this heightened operational performance means an improved ROI on a shortened timeline.

Vecna Robotics is uniquely situated to exceed expectations with this technology. Being one of the more senior robotics companies in the industry provides an edge, but that’s not the only advantage the company holds. “We came at the problem from a different direction than AGV manufacturers,” says Dydek, “We started in an environment that is much more dynamic and much less structured than warehouses: hospitals.” He explained how Vecna’s original technology learned not only how to work with staff and navigate around hospital beds and equipment, but learned how to interact with individuals that had never seen a robot before. “When we came into the industrial space, we applied this technology. We have something a lot more flexible and better able to handle dynamic situations because of this.” Dydek explains.

Scalable Solutions with Easy Integration offer Adaptability

The aforementioned AGV installation process necessitates expensive and disruptive infrastructural updates. The opposite is true for AMRs. In fact, it’s so easy that the process can be conducted entirely remotely. Because they navigate using internal intelligent reasoning, the facility does not need to be altered in any way. Vecna Robotics’ AMRs share knowledge, so only one robot is used to map the facility to learn where pick-up and drop-off sites will be located. Dydek explains that this mapping method means an increased ability to scale the fleet with ease. “They download the knowledge and immediately start adding value.”

autonomous warehouse robotsVecna Robotics’ simple integration process was a key advantage to those automating throughout the last year, after supply chain disruptions and labor shortages left facilities struggling to meet surging consumer demands. “We are able to keep people focused on the tasks that are high value for people, tasks that require human creativity and ingenuity,” says Dydek on how this advantage extends to solving for the current labor shortage, “Let robots do the more mundane tasks like moving things around the warehouse, which takes a lot of time and staff.”

These economic pressures don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Many of the shopping patterns and expectations that end-customers adopted during the pandemic are here to stay. “There’s a lot of interesting changes happening, and a lot of them are going to stick around indefinitely.” says Dydek.

The key to overcoming the current challenges facing the material handling sector will be adaptability. In today’s turbulent times, Vecna Robotics autonomous warehouse robots provide technology that allows facilities to embrace the benefits of flexible automation.

Learn about how Vecna Robotics’ advanced technology offers a competitive advantage. Download The Complete Guide to AMR and AGV Navigation today.

See Vecna Robotics’ tuggers, fork trucks, and pallet trucks in action.

Overcome Labor Shortages with Self-Driving Forklifts

The material handling industry has been plagued by labor shortages and high-turnover rates, while simultaneously struggling to react to e-commerce demand reaching all-time highs. To address these problems, leading facilities in the industrial sector are increasingly turning to self-driving equipment like Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) to increase adaptability and throughput. Listen to the recent Advanced Manufacturing Now podcast to hear from Jeff Huerta, VP of Sales at Vecna Robotics, about how profitable facilities are using intelligent autonomous equipment to not only outlast, but come out ahead in turbulent conditions. Learn why autonomous vehicles like self-driving forklifts, pallet movers, and tuggers are more effective than ever before in creating a competitive advantage manufacturing, distribution and warehousing.

 

 

How Self-Driving Forklifts Reduce Labor Shortage Strain

Over 4 billion pallets are moved everyday on a global scale, with a good deal of that being non value-added travel. This is a less than ideal use of available labor. “Let the robot do this work and move your labor to other areas,” says Huerta, “That’s where we see the most success.” He makes note of how the material handling labor shortage is not specific to forklift drivers, although these roles do require an amount of training and experience that is more prohibitive to the hiring process. The labor shortage is affecting roles across the operation – from floor management to quality control. “Non value-added travel should be automated,” says Huerta, “We need to put available labor in the areas where thinking is needed.”

self-driving forklifts

The labor shortage does not only affect large companies. “Everybody has this problem, there’s a lot of new companies that have the same problem as these fortune 500 companies. They may even have it worse,” Huerta explains. Vecna Robotics has experience working with customers of all sizes, deploying both large fleets and individual robots across the country. Companies both small and large can see major returns from automating workflows with the right technology.

When asked if size of the company matters in terms of automation, Huerta addresses the common misconception that exists. “It’s not the company’s size, its the application; There’s homeruns and there’s base-hits.” Huerta analogizes, explaining that a home-run would be a robot transporting a pallet across a mile-long facility, and a base-hit would be moving materials a smaller distance, but perhaps at greater frequency. In the end, both applications can result in a win.

Choosing the Right Automation Technology

The key to meeting demand in this labor crisis is not as simple as putting any self-driving forklifts on the facility floor. The essence of the solution is adaptability and efficiency. Choosing the automated technology that is the best able to meet these goals and produce the highest metrics is the key to holding a competitive advantage.

Over the past few decades, automated machines in facilities have vastly changed. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) were once the pinnacle of futuristic, automated technology, using installed magnetic strips to run routes like a train on a railroad track. This installation process is lengthy, and required disruptive and expensive infrastructural updates. With AMRs, this is not the case. Huerta describes the ease of deployment to customers in one brief sentence: “Its an engineer, their laptop, and the robots themselves.”

Not only is installation easy and mess-free, but the vehicles’ applications have advanced significantly. Rather than running laps on a tracks, Vecna Robotics’ self-driving forklifts are able to “work just like operators work”, Huerta explains. Vecna Robotics’ intelligent AMRs make use of continuous-learning capabilities and cutting-edge software that calculates and assigns the most efficient routes to each truck. They use intelligent analytics to navigate effectively in dynamic environments – communicating traffic patterns to one another so that more efficient routes can  be assigned.

With Pivotal, Vecna Robotics’ orchestration software, the robots are monitored in real time, all the time. “This traffic management what makes our robots very efficient, and makes sure we’re meeting and exceeding customer expectations,” says Huerta. It is this advanced level of technology that enables these self-driving forklifts to be a viable solution for the labor shortage, showing incredible efficiency that reduces the stresses of training and hiring new individuals.

Automation that Scales with Production is Key to Sustained Success

The intelligence of the vehicles is vastly important, but scalability is a determining factor in successful automation. Both the vehicles and the technological capabilities need to scale easily so that company and fleet can expand without significant growing pains. Vecna Robotics’ AMRs can be installed with varying degrees of accompanying automated processes.

When asked about how comprehensive the automation process is, Huerta says “Its flexible – Its meant to be, and it has to be”. Vecna Robotics’ technology is designed to grow with the customer. “We understand that customers’ situations change. It all depends on where you start and where you want to finish.”

Huerta describes low-level integration, which allows robots to be deployed from tablets with assigned tasks, as well as “conveyor-belt generated demands.” In this higher-level integration, the robot can pick up a pallet from a conveyor system, tell the Warehouse Management System (WMS) that it has that pallet, and ask where it should transport it to. This use is one example of how processes can be automated, now or later on in production as demand grows and more capabilities are needed.

Self-Driving Forklifts Offer Benefits Beyond Labor Addition

Huerta leaves the listener with advice about how to approach automation as an implementable strategy. He begins with saying that many people think automation is too new, that its not right for them, and that they’re not ready to automate. “This is not true, anyone can automate.” Huerta says. With Vecna Robotics’ resources, its easy to explore how automation can help with not only the labor shortage, but a litany of other obstacles. If you have those mundane, dirty and demeaning tasks – self-driving forklifts can take these tasks on and allow for necessary labor reallocation, while also increasing safety and throughput. “We can work together to meet your goals” says Huerta.

See Vecna Robotics’ Self-Driving Forklift in action. Download the guide to understanding AGVs and AMR Navigation to learn more about industrial automation vehicles.

5 Signs its Time to Automate Logistics Workflows

 

robots automate logistics

The past year has brought many challenges for logistics-based companies. Faced with rapidly-shifting economic conditions, unpredictable consumer behaviors, an ongoing labor shortage and an increasingly competitive landscape, those in material handling have been forced to adapt quickly or fall behind. These drastic changes have supply chain managers looking towards scalable, flexible solutions that will increase their operation’s preparedness for future disruption. The first step in achieving this is integrating robotic material handling. Read on if you’re wondering: how do I know its time to automate logistics, and where do I start?

 

1. When a worker’s job is dangerous, repetitive or hard to fill

As shipment rates increase, many jobs in material handling are becoming increasingly strained. Many jobs have shifted to consisting of nearly entirely repetitive tasks, leaving workers unsatisfied and less productive. This does very little to alleviate dangers associated with these jobs, as accident rates involving manually-operated vehicles continue to rise. These two factors have led to high turnover rates and an unsustainable labor gap that plagues the material handling industry, costing millions in lost productivity each year.

Logistics automation solves this by allowing robots to take over the dull and dangerous tasks that workers don’t want to do. This allows workers to be moved to high-value tasks than humans are more suited for, increasing employee safety and satisfaction.

2. When labor scheduling for flexible demand is not working

With the ongoing labor shortage, labor scheduling has become a precarious balancing act. Beyond this, flexible demand planning is becoming more and more difficult as consumer demands shift drastically without warning. Mistakes in this area are costly, and not being able to meet market expectations can cause firms to lose market share or goodwill in partnerships.

The pressures of inaccurate scheduling are alleviated with robots, as they are available to turn on or go offline at a moments notice. When facing extreme spikes in seasonal demand, robots can work around the clock to meet production or order fulfillment goals. Automated Mobile Robot (AMR) solutions like Vecna Robotics’ are scalable and increase adaptability through flexible automation. Programs like Robot-as-a-Service allow for facilities to “rent” robots, adding or removing units as needed.

3. When order fulfillment or per square foot costs are high

Automation helps lower costs and increase profits by boosting productivity. Robots are able to work around the clock, making operations more efficient. Vecna Robotics’ AMRs are enabled with the ability to plot potential routes and choose the best option based on factors like distance, traffic, and location of the stops along the route. This level of intelligence means optimized movements and increased efficiency.

With Vecna Robotics’ workflow orchestration software, Pivotal, cycle time can be reduced and throughput doubled with optimized movements. Pivotal works similarly to a warehouse management system, but uses advanced algorithms to balance demand and dynamically assign tasks to both humans and robots.

4. When you’re handling more SKUs or non-conveyable shipments

A surge in e-commerce has led to an extreme level of SKU-proliferation and non-conveyable orders. This trend has caused inventory costs to balloon and margins to plummet. Maintaining a high-SKU inventory is expensive, and non-conveyable shipments can interrupt logistics workflows and cause bottlenecks. Before this shift, companies could temporarily solve these problems by throwing more people into the mix. As the labor gap continues and these conditions persist, this solution becomes less and less practical.

Integrating automated logistics solutions allows for workers to be allocated to trickier logistics tasks as needed. AMRs turn troublesome non-conveyable loads into efficient transports, eliminating repetitive, manual operations while offering flexibility in what’s moved and when. They also offer increased inventory accuracy, which can reduce the stress of distributing and packaging many SKUs.

5. When you want to stay ahead of the competition

Automation provides many advantages, including increased efficiency and an adaptability that can be vital in todays’ shifting market. The implementation of AMRs can counter big competitors that push industry margins down. Vecna Robotics’ vehicles are ever-improving, meaning the advantage they provide stays competitive.

Anyone can automate. With scalable, interoperable and infrastructure free self-driving materials handling equipment, facilities can automate logistics workflows at any point in operations.

Learn more about how to automate logistics workflows.

Investor Podcast: Vecna Robotics’ Warehousing and Manufacturing Robots Solve Major Issues

 

This weeks’ VentureFizz podcast features Daniel Theobald, Founder of Vecna Robotics, and Trevor Zimmerman, Co-Founder of Blackthorn Ventures and investor in Vecna Robotics. This interview is the first at Venturefizz to include both an investor and company founder, providing a full perspective on the true value of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). The two interviewees jointly discuss the technology and strategy that sets Vecna Robotics apart from others in the field, and the major issues in the global supply chain that can be mitigated by advanced warehousing and manufacturing robots.

Listen to the full podcast to learn about

  • What the future holds for mobile robots and autonomous vehicles.
  • The founding story of Vecna and why they spun out Vecna Robotics.
  • Use cases of Vecna’s warehouse and manufacturing robots
  • Why the market is ready for the solutions provided by Vecna Robotics, plus the company’s growth plans.
  • The details on Blackthorn Ventures and what Trevor is targeting for investments.
  • Common pitch mistakes entrepreneurs make while raising funding for robotics companies.
  • And so much more.

Vecna Robotics is a stand-out company from both an investor and customer perspective, this can be partly attributed to how and why the company was founded. The strategy that Vecna Robotics has pursued since its creation has led to a heightened value proposition and the most advanced AMRs in the industry. Zimmerman, who has expertise in business, science and technology, explains why Blackthorn Ventures recognizes the value of investing in robotics and the technology that made Vecna Robotics the right choice. “Vecna Robotics has a viable business model today, and they solve a pain point for their customers today.” he says.

warehousing and manufacturing robotsA great deal of the company’s success can be attributed to setting long-term goals, an immense focus on investing in technology, and waiting until the market was ready. “This strategy is working out very well for us. Timing is important.” Theobald says on the initial decision to bootstrap the venture, “We built the company in such a way that we could invest more in our product and wait to scale when the time was right. Now, a number of our competitors are working very hard to redo their technology and catch up.”

The two also discuss how automation creates a better working environment, making note of the way it reshapes job roles. “It frees the worker up to have their best day at work by automating away the tasks that are dangerous or unenjoyable.” says Zimmerman on how this technology is applied in real situations. Theobald agrees and emphasizes that the future of automation will be focused on assistance, not replacement. “The best results always come when you have the optimal pairing of humans and technology.” says Theobald, “Workers aren’t going away, they’re just going to be able to do more.”

Vecna Robotics’ goal is to provide distinct solutions that make automation a vehicle for good and greatly improve the lives of customers and communities. On his decision to enter into supply chain robotics, Theobald says, “Anyone can make money. The more challenging goal is to make money and have a positive impact on the world”. He describes an unsuccessful, initial search for a company to invest in and work with that fit this description. “I couldn’t find that company, so I made it.”

Read more about manufacturing robots and the workforce here.

See Vecna Robotics autonomous Forklift, Pallet Truck and Tugger.

 

 

The Future of Supply Chain Technology: Robotics and Lean Manufacturing

Daniel Theobald, Founder and CIO of Vecna Robotics, was featured as a panelist on Moye White’s Remaking the Warehouse to discuss adapting warehouses for carbon reduction and the future of supply chain technology. Theobald makes note of how automation contributes to waste reduction and improves lean manufacturing outcomes, and how these effects can be amplified with AI orchestration.

Warehouse automation can boost these metrics on its own, being a reliable and safe transportation method that increases efficiency. However, when combined with other supply chain technology such as continuous learning and AI orchestration, businesses start to see truly powerful results. “Vecna cares about getting the right resource in the right place at the right time. We have seen significant impact.” says Theobald, citing a study in which a facility’s throughput was doubled with the addition of orchestration only. Vecna Robotics’ Pivotal is the world’s first multi-agent orchestration engine, which dictates the workflows of both robots and humans for maximum efficiency. This method of streamlining optimizes resource utilization and reduces waste, providing an overall positive impact on the facility’s bottom line and environmental footprint.

Theobald also discusses the incredible value of flexible and scalable supply chain technology, highlighting how this contributes to adaptability. “The world’s supply chain is critical for all businesses, and lives – disruptions to these supply chains cause cascading effects that test our resilience.” says Theobald. He makes note of how infrastructure affects this, saying that versatility is key to maintaining an advantage in the face of volatility.

Daniel Theobald supply chain technology expert

Many businesses use conveyors or similar fixed systems to transport goods. These necessitate miles of permanent and expensive infrastructure changes. While these systems are useful, Theobald notes that when designing operations, you have to keep the future in mind. “It used to be that you can design a warehouse and it would operate one way over the course of its depreciation. This isn’t the case anymore – in a year or even in months, the business could change substantially.” he says.

Theobald also delves into topics such as the misconception regarding robots and employment, the electric self-charging capabilities of Vecna Robotics’ AMRs, and the critical importance of AMR interoperability. Listen to Theobald speak at 23:00 in Remaking the Warehouse: Carbon Reduction and the Future of Logistics Centers, Warehousing, and Fulfillment.

 

The Interoperability Standard: Material Handling Robots’ “Rosetta Stone”

MassRobotics‘ Automated Mobile Robot (AMR) Interoperability standard is a game changer for the already rapidly growing industry of material handling robots. With a projected CAGR of 45% between 2020 and 2026, it makes sense for competing AMR vendors to create this type of open source standard now. As Greg Nichols states in his latest article “Robots’ Rosetta Stone will Unify the Bots“, the thought process here is that “a rising tide will lift all ships”.

As logistics companies face increasingly rapid expansion following a boom in e-commerce, there is a need for robotic expansion beyond what is currently offered. This standard provides a way for factories to easily integrate material handling robots from multiple vendors and face minimal downtime. Robots will now be able to communicate data vital to the maximized success of automated operations, and managers can view fleet productivity statistics on a shared operational dashboard.

These capabilities will provide even more incentive for warehouses and others in industrial settings to turn towards automation, beyond the already pressing need driven by current economic trends. In response to this heightened customer value, many expect to see an even higher level of sustained growth across the sector.

Daniel Theobald, founder of MassRobotics and CIO and founder of Vecna Robotics has been an outspoken advocate for interoperability in recent years. “This important technology lays the groundwork for future innovation and concrete value for customers worldwide.” says Theobald on the release of version 1.0.

Material Handling Robots compliant with MassRobotics' Autonomous Mobile Robot Interoperability

Clearly, the benefits of interoperability will extend to both those in the robotics industry and customers who aim to automate at any level. As more material handling companies turn towards industrial AMRs, they are encouraged to adopt robotic technologies that are compliant with the standard. Doing so will pave the way for scalability.

Vecna Robotics’ line of material handling AMRs, including an autonomous tugger, forklift and pallet truck, are AMR Interop certified and are now being tested cooperatively with other robots at a Fedex Ground location. “I applaud the group for their efforts and dedication in laying out these first steps toward AMR interoperability.” said Aaron Prather, senior advisor at FedEx on the collaborative effort.

Read the full article “Robots’ Rosetta Stone will Unify the Bots” at ZDnet.

Read more coverage on the interoperability standard here.

 

Material Handling Automation: Conveying the Non-Conveyable

Flexible Automation Alleviates Logistics Pressures Caused by Non-Conveyables

Over the course of the last few years, many in the industry have come to view material handling automation as revolutionary and necessary technology. This is in part due to an extreme, sustained, and unpredictable jump in e-commerce and non-conveyable shipments. Non-conveyables (bulky goods such as appliances or furniture that are too big to fit on traditional conveyors) once accounted for a fraction of total shipments, but now make up almost 15% of direct-to-consumer supply chain goods. This demand-shift has had a notable and disruptive impact on many logistics organizations’ traditional workflows.

Before this shift, companies could temporarily solve problems caused by non-conveyables by throwing more people into the mix. As non-conveyables increase in number, this solution becomes less and less practical. The true solution? Flexible automation.

Flexible automation – made possible by self-driving, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) – turns troublesome non-conveyable loads into efficient transports. AMRs eliminate repetitive, manual operations while offering flexibility in what’s moved and when. Robotic solutions are highly scalable and do not require infrastructure changes, making for an easy installation process and the ability to increase or decrease use as needed. With programs such as Vecna Robots-as-a-Service program, organizations can lease robots and adjust their fleet size without hassle.

Using Material Handling Automation to Improve Efficiency

autonomous warehouse tugger for material handling automationMatt Cherewka, director of business development and strategy at Vecna Robotics, spoke with Inbound Logistics, explaining how Vecna Robotics’ AMRs are able to adapt to their environment and streamline operations.

“They plot multiple potential routes and choose the most efficient option based on factors like distance, traffic, and location of the stops along the route,” Cherewka says. “When necessary, they can reroute on the fly.” He also discusses Pivotal, Vecna Robotics’ groundbreaking, multi-agent orchestration engine. Pivotal works similarly to a warehouse management system, but uses advanced algorithms to balance demand and dynamically assign tasks to both humans and robots, improving throughput and raising the robotic fleet’s ROI significantly.

To learn more about how AMRs mitigate the cost of transporting non-conveyables, as well as additional benefits of material handling automation, read the full article at Inbound Logistics.

Download Vecna Robotics’ comprehensive guide to AMRs here.

4 Ways to Amplify the Impact of Warehouse Automation

In recent years, a growing number of companies have begun to implement automated mobile robots (AMRs) into warehouses and distribution centers. Large spikes in demand have put massive pressure on the supply chain to react to a rapidly changing landscape. Self-driving vehicles have shown incredible results in safety, efficiency and flexibility. With supply chain robots on the rise, there are many questions about the best way to optimize use of this technology. What are the key applications of warehouse automation, and what innovations can be expected down the line?

Daniel Theobald, Founder and CIO of Vecna Robotics, tackles these topics and more in “4 ways to Unlock the True Potential of Warehouse Automation“.

AI Amplifies the Impact of Warehouse Automation

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the key to unleashing automation’s full power for improved productivity and operational throughput, maximizing productivity in an unpredictable age” says Theobald.

Automation alone cannot solve all material handling challenges. Even with AGVs or AMRs, warehouses may still face bottlenecks that cause a ripple-effect downstream. Logistics managers can attempt to minimize this with workflow planning. Obtaining key data can help with decision planning to solve these problems, or even predict problems before they occur; This is where AI comes in.

In the years to come, the industry will focus on several opportunities. But Theobald predicts that the AI orchestration of automated assets will be the focus of innovation in supply chain technology. Vecna Robotics’ warehouse management system, Pivotal, is the world’s first multi-agent orchestration system. Pivotal is able to assign tasks to both humans and robots to maximize efficiency. In addition, it provides invaluable data insights to decision-makers in real time. These capabilities help companies maintain a competitive advantage and reap the benefits from their technology and human capital investments.

Warehouse automation with AI orchestration and optimized workflows.

Warehouse automation reaches its full potential with AI orchestration and optimized workflows.

Theobald shares how orchestration can help improve productivity and efficiency in warehouse automation moving forward. An AI-powered platform can address cross-platform orchestration, synchronous simulation, predictive analytics, and continuous improvement.

“While much of this may seem futuristic now, it will be commonplace, and necessary, by 2030. More than providing the opportunity for massive efficiency gains, orchestration enables organizations within the supply chain to be robust and flexible to vulnerabilities, especially in a rapidly changing world,” says Theobald.

Read the article at Inbound Logistics.