Podcast: Say goodbye to 'robot wranglers'

April 23, 2024
In this episode of Great Question, Michael Bearman of Vecna explores how to solve robot issues remotely without local intervention from humans.

Michael Bearman is the chief customer and administrative officer and general counsel at Vecna Robotics. The company, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, specializes in automated material handling, hybrid fulfillment and workflow optimization solutions for manufacturing companies.

In his current role, Michael is responsible for managing customer deployments, as well as ensuring the successful adoption of autonomous mobile robots. He recently spoke with Smart Industry Managing Editor Scott Achelpohl about automated warehouses, robot wranglers, virtual command centers, and much more.

Below is an excerpt from the podcast:

SI: Michael, I assume virtual command centers, including Vecna’s own Pivotal Command Center (PCC), consist of software solutions with dashboards that track each robot’s operational status and metrics. What are the ins and outs of that solution? What is the workflow like? What else does a virtual command center do?

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MB: Thank you for that question. I think it's important to emphasize that 95% of the time the robots are operating fully autonomously. No outside assistance is required. But you will always run into those edge cases and that last 5% where some assistance is needed.

So, whenever it runs into one of those situations, it will throw an alert. That alert will show up in our PCC, our command center’s alert queue, and there'll be a remote agent that's able to claim that alert. And when they claim that alert, they basically push a button, and it takes them directly to that robot view. So it sees all the sensors that the robot is using. It sees the sensor data, and it sees the camera data.

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Our agent is able to become aware of the situation and provide the assistance that is needed and be able to do so remotely and quickly. An example of that is if, for some reason, the barcode scanner doesn't get a good scan, the remote agent can look at the barcode and manually type in the barcode so it can know which pallet it’s picking up and know where it needs to be taken.

That little extra help just makes the throughput that much better for the customers and makes it so that you don't have to have that situation where you're having someone locally provide assistance.

About the Author

Scott Achelpohl

I've come to Smart Industry after stints in business-to-business journalism covering U.S. trucking and transportation for FleetOwner, a sister website and magazine of SI’s at Endeavor Business Media, and branches of the U.S. military for Navy League of the United States. I'm a graduate of the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism with many years of media experience inside and outside B2B journalism. I'm a wordsmith by nature, and I edit Smart Industry and report and write all kinds of news and interactive media on the digital transformation of manufacturing.