There are new roles that are becoming an integral part of many warehouses, distribution centers and factories around the world. It’s a robot expert. As labor shortages put a strain on the manufacturing and supply chain sectors, business leaders need to understand the value of robotics professionals and how they can help solve these challenges.
By improving an individual’s skills to manage a team of robots, experts can handle day-to-day tasks on the machine while handling the overall thinking and overall management of the warehouse. But where do decision makers who look closely at their needs but don’t have the technical expertise in automation start looking? Where are the opportunities and what is at stake for companies that do not adapt?
To gain insight into these and other questions about this new role and growth opportunities, we contacted Bryan Siegal, Vice President of Customer Success at Vecna Robotics, and Mahesh Nikam, ShapeExcellence Systems Manager at ShapeCorp.
GN: How about the rise of automation causing some companies to be surprised or flatfoot? And how did you see the company arrive unprepared for future challenges at the moment of hiring?
Brian Ziegal: We hear from most customers that their business is growing to an unprecedented level, pushing demand beyond the capacity of the site. Many went to extended days and shifts. Finding associates who work with the added shifts is a major issue in meeting all their demands. These companies are lame because they don’t have the additional capacity needed where they could literally turn the switch to keep the robot running longer. Instead, they simply can’t find the resources to accomplish it, so they have to turn down their income.
Another major factor is the time it takes to hire robots. Change management should be considered, including update processes, staff training, effective reporting and management, and more. Therefore, organizations that invest early and learn how to use robots effectively in operation have significant advantages over organizations that do not.
GN: Can you explain what an in-house robot expert is and how its role can help your company?
Brian Ziegal: Internal robot specialists are associates trained to interact and operate robot fleets at a high level. In this ability, robot experts not only confirm that the fleet is on duty, but also answer questions from other peers as needed and deal with “exceptions” that occur on-shift experts. is.
Robot experts go beyond local fleet monitoring to provide 24/7 proactive remote monitoring to ensure that fleets are operating optimally with the Network Operations Center (NOC) team. The main contact information for. Therefore, robot experts are the key to ensuring that the productivity gains made possible by the robot fleet are returned to the company.
GN: When is the right time for a company’s trajectory or growth to create such a role?
Brian Ziegal: When you realize that your company’s growth rate, ability to find a workforce, or cost structure can’t keep up with the competition, you often decide that autonomous equipment such as self-driving forklifts and taggers is the solution. The team then develops a project plan for deployment and ongoing operations. In the process, they appoint a team of robot experts for every shift operated by the fleet. Robot Expert not only assists in fleet deployment, but also plays an important role in manipulating a fully deployed fleet.
GN: Mahesh, I would like to make use of your experience with Shape here as well. What existing employees tend to be good robot experts, SHAPE CORP. How does you support the transition to that very new role?
Maheshnikam: Currently, Shape is moving to automated material handling by training current team members who specialize in forklift operations and leveraging their proficiency in this area to shape them into autonomous mobile robot specialists. Team members are provided with in-depth training on AMR safety and function, as well as hands-on training to further develop their skill sets in this area. Upon completion of training, team members will receive up-to-date information on AMR’s industrial vehicle licenses. We want to make sure our team is ready to succeed in all the development opportunities we offer at Shape.
GN: Brian, what about from your point of view? What do the best candidates for that role have in common?
Brian Ziegal: The best candidates for the role of robot expert are comfortable working in industrial equipment, proven skills in working with software, excitement for working with cutting-edge technology, and a deep understanding of the day-to-day flow in the work environment. And so on. Above all, these are the people who want the company to grow and succeed.
These qualifications are often acquired at work and candidates are often associated with years of operational experience. They may be supervisory individuals, but they are all open-minded and hope that new technologies will help transform their operations. In contrast, engineers do not need a degree because they do not ask robot experts to diagnose and repair robot problems. Through this partnership, we virtually work with experts to diagnose and resolve issues through our 24/7 NOC Center. This collaboration is essentially “on-the-job training” and you will learn how to advance your career and manage these types of systems as you grow. As this role becomes mainstream, companies and industries need to establish formal roles and roles as career choices.
GN: What is the focus on the resources, education, or professional development available to become a robot expert?
Brian Ziegal: This is a new role related to the deployment of AMR. In this early lifecycle phase of the entire AMR industry, training is limited to one-on-one, highly personalized training with customized promotional materials.
That said, there are some areas of expertise where training can be beneficial. Robots use sensors to see the world. This includes cameras, riders (usually rotating laser rangefinders), ultrasonic rangefinders, time-of-flight cameras, and more. Understanding how these sensors work and common failure modes can be very helpful in ensuring the best performance of your robot.
Another area of training is wireless networks, as almost all robots rely on wireless networks for their operations. Vecna Robotics AMR is connected to the customer’s WiFi or cellular network. Here’s how to stay in touch with AMR. By deepening the understanding of network needs and operating environment by robot experts, that person becomes a valuable asset not only for us but also for the operation as a whole.
The third area of professional training that can be useful is about robot safety. The safety requirements for these systems are strict, and if staff do not understand how safety systems work, they can be frustrated when asked “Why do robots not work?” Unlike manual devices, robots are required to have a certain standoff distance from other objects.
Information on all these important areas can be found on the Vecna Robotics and Mass Robotics websites.
GN: SHAPE CORP. Bryan sees how the role of Robot Expert changes and evolves as Mahesh and Vecna and the companies they support do the same as they grow and the company’s automation needs mature. Are you expecting it?
Maheshnikam: Our vision at Shape is for the AMR fleet to service all production lines and maintain manually operated forklifts only in designated areas. With the expansion of AMR, it is envisioned that AMR experts will create a central area to manage the fleet with an automated ordering system. As we grow, this role is further enhanced by optimizing AMR routes, coordinating and supporting new AMR implementations, and training and onboarding new teams to help manage this important asset against Shape’s growth. Evolve.
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