I had the pleasure this week to spend multiple days in Boston meeting with a number of the robotics organizations that we all hear about and their leadership teams. It was extremely eye opening to not only learn specifics about each of their products, but also their culture towards investment, people and product management.
If you have the opportunity to visit Boston, I highly suggest extending your trip to learn something new at one of the providers that you are not aware of. Here are some of the most interesting items that I found:
1) Each of the companies I visited far exceeded the traditional expectations of a start-up solution as their products have been well thought out and are market leading in solving each of their respective business challenges.
2) The culture of each company is extremely unique and can be felt from the entrance. Some are in brand new facilities specifically purpose built And others are using older buildings such as post offices that have been re-purposed. All of them are sure to incorporate fun into their work environment with a work environment that is meant to allow their employees to enjoy their days at work.
3) Each company has solved specific challenges that ultimately are built for implementation in both brown-field and green field installations.
4) The constant challenge, which each company is facing is the ability to implement quicker with limited customizations as they further the product and want to eliminate custom requirements.
As I depart Boston, it’s clear to me that the products are ready for immediate adoption, but now the market must determine how best to deploy to match the financial requirements as a Capital investment or Robots as a Service, etc.
Some keys from each organization visited;
- Right Hand Robotics: Extremely unique space in an old post office, but it’s clear that the product is of extreme focus with 15+ unique applictions demonstrable.
- SoftRobotics: Not just a gripper company as they also have developed custom solutions for their customers. Some big new products are coming in the near future all supported by a unique range of grippers.
- NextShift: Most consider NextShift as a transport robot only, but they have also developed a method to optimize manual picking. Of course the unique solution is one of the only AMR(s) with built in extractors to pull totes out of standard racking.
- AutoGuide: The newest member of the Teradyne family with a purpose built AMR chassis that has modular attachments allowing tugging, pallet stacking and high bay putaway and retrieval. One of the first AMR companies to provide functionality of traditional AGV(s)
- Locus: Wow, a really large new facility and recently expanded to continue the ability to grow their product. Extremely well thought out user interface with gamification, simple operation and comprehensive dashboards.
- Humatics: A large new complex unlocking the ability to design new sensors and technology that maps equipment in a 3D environment. Ever wonder where every piece of equipment is in the facility including totes and pallets? Humatics can track every pallets location real-time in your facility.
Overall a great representation of the leading edge technology currently being developed in Boston and prepared to accelerate adoption of industry 4.0.