The Association for Advancing Automation recently featured Daniel Theobald, CEO and Founder of Vecna Robotics in a Q&A to discuss the future of Automation. Daniel is an automation expert and industry leader with decades of experience. Daniel has spent his career leading teams of engineers in developing robotic solutions for multiple industries. He has 67 issued patents and an additional 30 pending. Daniel has worked closely with leading technology organizations such as DARPA, DOD, NASA, NIH, and USDA. His work aims to advance the use of robotics and AI software to improve supply chain efficiency. In addition to founding Vecna Robotics, Daniel also co-founded MassRobotics, a non-profit dedicated to the global advancement of the robotics industry. Daniel is dedicated to the idea that technology can be used to empower humans to live more fulfilling lives.
As an experienced leader in automation, Daniel shared his opinion that the decision to adopt autonomous solutions should not be solely based on solving the stress of increased demand alone. The bigger picture to consider is workflows as a whole. By 2025 it is predicted that 4 million robots will operate in 50,000 warehouses. The next decade will be spent coordinating and orchestrating those robots to achieve productivity goals.
Workflow Orchestration can share the status of all robots in real time. This includes the human workforce, manual trucks, and all autonomous equipment, including tuggers, pallet trucks, small robot conveyors, and robot arms. The advantage of Orchestration is increasing throughput and operating more efficiently. While working, facility management can collect real time data, increase efficiency, control precision, and leverage human creativity.
According to Daniel Theobald, the environments of warehouses and distribution centers are constantly evolving. Facility management may be excellent problem solvers, however, they are at a disadvantage on the data front. Access to real-time data will help them anticipate future changes and quickly implement new strategies. The goal is to prepare for any scenario without impacting operational efficiency. AI provides necessary information to maintain maximum productivity. The Association of Advancing Automation included a summary of the key benefits of applications that continuously improve efficiency.
Humans are essential to all warehouse operations. In a single facility there is an optimal role for each key player; humans, robots, and AI. The job of AI is to constantly seek out opportunities for improvement, learn, and communicate the findings with the human workforce. Humans then plan the best use for robots and deploy them to those tasks. Robots are responsible for carrying out the grueling labor with precision and efficiency. A key benefit to this system is improving the quality of life for the human workforce. By assigning the dangerous and repetitive tasks to robots, humans can focus on higher-value activities. Tasks for laborers include exception handling and creative problem solving.
One of the unique benefits Vecna Robotics provides to its customers is the considering all elements of a facility and workflow. Vecna Robotics understands that optimizing a single piece will not give customers the results they want. Considering this, Vecna Robotics AI-powered orchestration engine, Pivotal, and the autonomous equipment work in sync. The deployment of these solutions into a facility also includes in-depth training for the existing human workforce to understand and maximize the power of their autonomous equipment. The allocation of tasks between Pivotal, AMRs, and humans results in high employee satisfaction and engagement.
Deploying robots and overcoming the learning curve is often the most difficult part of implementing robots. The key to optimizing autonomous solutions is simple, start small. By starting small, customers learn how the technology works best for them and their workforce. From this point, it is easier to scale. Without experience, a small fleet is more manageable and allows teams to gain confidence and assess ROI. Once the production environment is working in a comfortable routine with AMRs it is easier to grow the fleet.
Learning how to read and leverage data is a low-cost way to simulate multiple scenarios and determine ideal utilization practices for your equipment. Analyzing data also helps identify areas for improvement. Data on resource usage, distance traveled, travel time vs. idle time, deadheading, and high-traffic routes through facilities are collected. Translating data into action is one of the greatest advantages of AMRs as it brings significant value to your operations.
Daniel was recently named a 2021 Pro to Know by Supply and Demand Chain Executive, read the announcement here.
Are you using self-driving equipment like autonomous fork trucks, tuggers, and pallet trucks? If not, you may be losing money every day. Warehousing, manufacturing, and distribution facilities are turning to this equipment to stay competitive and get ahead. Start running more profitable operations using automation today!
Join us for this 30-minute webinar hosted by DC Velocity and take the first step in advancing your operations. Learn the differences between AMRs, AGVs, & VGVs and why AMRs are now the leading operating platform, determine how your facility can maximize the ROI from autonomous equipment, and understand those returns versus the cost of doing nothing.
Date: Thursday, May 13, 2021
Time: 1:00 PM Eastern
Duration: 30 minutes
Scott Wagner, an Industry Advisor at Vecna Robotics, is an experienced resource for the successful use of software and robotic solutions in production, warehousing and retail applications. He refined his detailed understanding of program applications while he was a software expert for inventory management. Here, he supported the specialized beer, wine, and liquor industry for several years. Scott assisted in the adoption and use of software that resulted in improved efficiencies in operations.
Before joining Vecna Robotics, Scott lead dozens of industrial robotic deployments across North America. He successfully managed the implementation of robotic cleaning equipment into dynamic and challenging environments. He accurately identifying client’s needs, assisted in the creation of the best solutions, and oversaw the onsite deployment with a well-organized team. Scott is uniquely qualified to best advise clients on industrial robotic applications as he has the combined experience of integrating various software applications with the selection and workflows of autonomous equipment.
When Scott is not talking about robots or application integrations, he’s busy chasing his two energetic children or staying up late after they go to sleep to work on his vintage Kawasaki motorcycle or fine tuning his fishing gear.
Roberto Michel, Modern Materials Handling – November, 2020 – Automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) have been reliant in moving loads around industrial facilities since their introduction in the 1950’s. However, the new wave autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) have become more popular as they automate much of the legwork involved in e-commerce order picking. AGV’s can now assist in goods-to-person order picking, while conversely, some AMRs can move and lift pallet-sized loads. A recent study shows that both categories of mobile robots are growing but AMRs are dominating the high growth niche of e-commerce order picking. According to analyst firm Interact Analysis, the AGV market will grow by 11% in 2020, while the AMR market will grow by 45% this year.
AGVs and AMRs share many common applications however, some industry experts say there are markets where each mobile robot can be a better fit than the other. Vecna Robotics believes that while the differences between the mobile robot types are small, AMRs can do everything AGVs can and more. Vecna Robotics, an AMR vendor, offers multiple models used to move larger, pallet-sized loads, as well as smaller loads. The upshot of all this evolution is the notion that larger loads call for AGVs is no longer valid.
“You can’t go by form factor alone,” says Hayes of Vecna Robotics. “Our vehicle technology, for example, is an AMR with respect to how they navigate, but in terms of being able to handle larger loads, they have the application suitability of an AGV.”
Some AGVs beginning to use natural navigation, but points out that overall, most AGVs follow predefined paths, though they have safety sensors to stop on a dime if need be. “The AMR concept just means that the vehicles can path plan versus path follow,” says Hayes. “It’s really that one fundamental difference that changes AGVs to AMRs. An autonomous vehicle can think about the environment and react versus follow a defined path.”
Read the full article from Modern Materials Handling here.