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Post 124:



Title: The Future of Robotics and Automation is Here!

Ah, the sweet smell of progress! The future of robotics and automation is here and it's a glorious thing to behold! For years, people have been speculating about the possibilities of artificial intelligence and automation taking over our jobs, and now it's finally here. No more working in a cubicle or spending hours of your hard-earned money on tuition - you can now just sit back and let the robots do all the hard work!

The future of robotics and automation is brought to us by the innovative minds of Silicon Valley, who always seem to be one step ahead of the game. They have developed robots that can do everything from make coffee for us to help us with our daily tasks. The possibilities are endless!

But it's not just robots that have been invented to help us in our daily lives. Automation is also taking over the workplace. Companies are now using automation to do everything from filing paperwork to managing customer service requests. This means that more and more jobs are becoming obsolete as machines take over, making it easier for companies to cut costs and increase profits.

But don't worry! This doesn't mean that everyone is going to lose their job. In fact, experts predict that the job market will be more robust than ever as automation takes over mundane tasks that humans used to have to do. This means that people will have more time for creative tasks, such as coming up with innovative ideas and creating products that can change the world.

The future of robotics and automation is certainly exciting, but it's also a bit scary. We have to be careful to ensure that we don't let machines take over too much of our lives. We need to remember that humans are still the masters of the machines, and that we need to be careful about how we use them.

So, the future of robotics and automation is here. But it's up to us to decide how to use it in order to create a better future for everyone. It's time to embrace the robots and automation, but also to be wary of their potential to take over our lives.

The future of robotics and automation is here – and it's time to embrace it with caution!

In the future, robots may do all the work – but humans will still be the masters!

Post 123:



Title: The Robot Revolution is Here: Automation is Shaking Up the Workforce

It's time to face the facts - automation is shaking up the workforce and the robot revolution is here. From the mundane tasks of everyday life to some of the most challenging and complex processes, robots are taking over.

But before you start to panic, it's important to understand how automation is affecting the workforce. As technology advances, more and more jobs are being automated. Not only is this creating a shift in the types of jobs available, but it is also changing the way humans work.

This is not just a trend. Automation is here to stay, and it is only going to become more advanced. So, how do businesses and individuals navigate this new landscape?

First, it's important to recognize the positives of automation. Robots can reduce human labor costs, increase efficiency, and increase production rates. They can also reduce the amount of time required to complete tasks, and are often more accurate than humans. This means that companies can produce more products with fewer resources, saving them money and providing higher quality goods to consumers.

However, robots can also present some challenges. Machines can often lack the creativity and problem-solving abilities of humans. As such, businesses will need to find ways to leverage robots alongside humans to make the most of their capabilities.

Another challenge is that robots can take away jobs from humans. As automation increases, the number of jobs available to humans may decrease, leading to more unemployment. Businesses will need to find ways to create new jobs that complement automation, and retrain existing employees to take on new roles.

Finally, it's important to recognize the ethical implications of automation. As robots become increasingly integrated into our lives, there will be questions about how they should be used and who should be responsible for their actions. Companies must be proactive in addressing these ethical considerations and ensure that their use of robots is fair and responsible.

The robot revolution is here, and automation is shaking up the workforce. It's a complex issue with both potential benefits and challenges. Companies and individuals must understand the implications of automation and find ways to leverage it to their advantage. With the right approach, robots can be a force for good and a tool for creating a better world.

The robot revolution is here, and it's time to embrace automation or be left behind. Get ready to join the robot revolution and see how automation can work for you.

Join the robot revolution and make sure you don't get left behind!

Post 122:



Title: The Robot Revolution is Here. Don't Fear It, Embrace It!

Robotics and automation have been steadily infiltrating all aspects of our lives. It’s the trend of the decade, and it seems like it’s here to stay. But what do these developments mean for us humans? Should we fear the robot revolution, or should we embrace it?

Let’s start by looking at the current state of robotics and automation. Artificial intelligence (AI) is constantly being improved upon, making it capable of more complex tasks. We’re also seeing robots that are able to interact with humans in a social and meaningful way. Automation now does the majority of the repetitive tasks that would have otherwise been done by a human, freeing up our time for more creative endeavors.

The rise of robotics and automation has been a boon for businesses. Automation has made it easier for companies to produce more products with fewer resources. It has also enabled companies to streamline processes, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings.

But the robot revolution isn’t just good news for businesses. It’s also a great opportunity for us humans. The rise of robotics and automation has opened up a world of possibilities for us to explore. We can now pursue more interesting and creative endeavors, leaving the mundane tasks to our robotic counterparts. We can also use robotics and automation to make our lives easier. From automated grocery delivery to robotic vacuum cleaners, there are plenty of ways to make our lives more convenient.

But with great power comes great responsibility. As robotics and automation continue to evolve, it’s important to ensure that we use them responsibly. We need to take steps to ensure that we’re not replacing human jobs with robots, and that we’re using them in a way that benefits everyone.

It’s clear that the robot revolution is here, and it’s here to stay. But this doesn’t have to be a cause for fear. We can use robotics and automation to make our lives easier, and to free up our time for more creative endeavors. So don’t fear the robot revolution, embrace it!

Robots aren't just here to take our jobs, they're here to enhance our lives.

Post 121: News of the Day

Here it comes…the US Airforce is looking to automate it’s big cargo jets. If Reliable Robotics can pull it off then it won’t be much longer before commercial airliners will be fully automated too! https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/politics-business-wire-a16b0b379b5c4aa4b9fec2b23d2a009b I give him a hard time about Artemis playing second fiddle to Atlas but Dennis Hong is a super sharp guy. My money is that one day he’ll be considered one of the founders of modern day robotics. Check out this article on him and the youtube video. At around 17:25 I started laughing.. https://universityofcalifornia.edu/news/ucla-roboticist-dennis-hong-rolls-out-his-robot-posse-tedx-talk https://youtu.be/yLxfPG_Ay_0 I’m not a fan of dancing robots, it absolutely annoys me that human brain power is being used to develop robots that can dance. How about stopping world hunger, creating world peace? But if you’re so inclined there will be a debauchery of sorts between Jason Derulo and a bunch of dancing robotic dogs at the Super Bowl this weekend. https://www.koamnewsnow.com/entertainment/television/carl-junction-robots-featured-at-the-super-bowl-with-jason-derulo/article_c246d0f2-a8cd-11ed-b588-e775d1af7d07.html

Post 120: Automation is Booming

Alright folks, let me tell you something about robotics and automation, it's now mainstream, and you know why? Because technology is advancing faster than a cheetah on fire! And the demand for automation, it's skyrocketing like the stock market in the 90s! Now, let me break it down for you. Robotics and automation are now mainstream because AI is getting smarter than my ex-wife, machine learning is learning more than my kids, and the cloud is clouding up more information than my Uncle Bob after a few drinks. These advancements have made it possible for robots to do things we never thought possible, like complex decision making, pattern recognition, and even talking like a human, whoa! And you know what else is driving the growth of robotics and automation? Companies, they want to be more efficient, accurate, and save money, like Scrooge McDuck with his money bin! They're investing in these technologies, like a kid investing in their first stock. Manufacturing, healthcare, retail, logistics, every industry is recognizing the benefits of automation and jumping on the bandwagon. We’re in the middle of some kind of freak economic evolution and robots are to blame. Now, if you're in the robotics and automation industry, you better listen up. First, stay on top of technological advancements like a cat on a hot tin roof, or you'll be left behind. Keep an eye on emerging technologies, like 5G and the Internet of Things, these things will change the game, like LeBron James in the fourth quarter. You think everything is going great then all of a sudden you’re the old guy in the room talking about rotary phones. Understand your customers, know what they need and what they want, like an irish bartender knows what drink to make you on a bad day. This requires a deep understanding of the industries and applications where automation is used, and the challenges and requirements that come with it. Stay attuned to the broader social and ethical implications of robotics and automation, like a mother stays attuned to her baby's cries. Know when it’s time to feed the beast versus putting it to sleep. Think about job displacement, privacy, and the ethics of automation in certain situations, like a lawyer thinks about the law. By doing this, you'll ensure that your products and services align with the broader goals of the industry, like two magnets attracted to each other. But don’t be afraid to be different. Different is now good. Different is now awesome. So folks, there you have it, robotics and automation are now mainstream and there's no stopping it. Stay ahead of the curve and stay ahead of the competition. Just remember, always stay knowledgeable, like a teacher on the first day of school! Peace out.

Post 119: News of the Day

I despise when I see people walking around with airpods in. There’s no way you can hear me better with those in! Personal pet peeves aside the CEO at Apptronik does a great job not being giddy about his company’s involvement with NASA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL24Hm2svrc Not sure there’s any opportunity in the automation space? Think that you should be happy as an automation manufacturer with just a couple of hundred units? You’re wrong. Autostore has sold Medline over 1,450 bots across 18 systems. These guys are killing it! https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/medline_builds_on_success_with_mobile_robotics What do you get when you give some ex-SpaceX guys $45M in funding? Something freakin awesome is what. They’re taking 3D printing to the next level! www.tctmagazine.com/additive-manufacturing-3d-printing-news/metal-additive-manufacturing-news/metal-3d-printing-company-freeform-emerges-from-stealth-with

Post 118: Lean Manufacturing Heros Unite!

Lean manufacturing is the superhero of production processes, swooping in to save the day by banishing waste and maximizing efficiency. It's like a game of Super Mario, but instead of jumping over Goombas and collecting coins, you're identifying and eliminating steps in the production process that are slowing you down and making you miss the high score. Here are three key things to remember when implementing lean manufacturing: The Incredible Hulk Focus: Lean manufacturing is like the Hulk, it's all about destroying anything that doesn't add value to the customer, leaving only the strong and efficient processes standing. Empower the Avengers: Just like the Avengers, employees are the real heroes of the lean manufacturing world. By empowering them to identify areas for improvement and make changes, they become the driving force behind continuous improvement. Continuously Improving like Spiderman: Lean manufacturing is like Peter Parker, always ready to swing into action to save the day. It's not a one-time event, but a never-ending quest for improvement. Regularly reviewing and optimizing processes ensures that the production process stays spry, like Spiderman. For more information on lean manufacturing, check out the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), a wealth of knowledge that can help transform you into a lean manufacturing superhero. And, like any good comic book, there are plenty of books, articles, and case studies available that explore the lean manufacturing world and its implementation in various industries.

Post 117: Tommy's Take on Getting Hired In Automation

Oh here’s some juicy news, Vanderlande just lost their President of Warehouse Solutions in North America to Swisslog! Sounds like the ship is starting to take on water over at Vanderlande! I’ve chatted with Swisslog’s new CEO in the past and the Vanderlande team and I can make assumptions as to why he left. I’ve dropped some chocolate covered morsels of wisdom in the following…. So you want to work in the land of robotics? Haha good one! Getting a job in the automation industry is no easy feat, especially if you're hoping to break into this dusty, "old school" boys club. The deck is stacked against you from the start with “veterans” who have been in the game for centuries and built-in networks that make it nearly impossible for outsiders to break in or even those in the industry to move up. But let's say you're lucky enough to overcome these hurdles and land an interview. Good luck impressing your future employer with your lack of specialized knowledge and skills in electrical and mechanical systems. That's right, if you haven't been working in the industry for the last decade or so, you can forget about even having a chance unless you’re interviewer is one of the rare open minded ones. And don't even think about trying to bring some new and innovative ideas to the table. This industry is notorious for being slow to adopt change, so unless you're content with sticking to the same old processes, you might as well start searching for a job elsewhere. But hey if you are gluten for punishment and are looking for abuse, here are 3 tips to getting ahead in this biz the modern way: Be the BOSS: Building relationships with industry pros can be key to landing your dream job. Attend industry events, participate in online forums, and connect with professionals on LinkedIn to expand your network and make yourself known to potential employers. And don’t do this meekly, do it like you own the space. But don’t be a narcissist jerk. Get to GURU level: The automation industry requires a combination of electrical and mechanical skills. Take some courses or certifications to prove you’ve got what it takes and make yourself sexier an attractive candidate to potential employers. Focus on Innovation and Customer Service: The automation industry can be slow to adopt new ideas, but companies are always looking for individuals who can bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the table. Additionally, a strong focus on customer service can set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your commitment to the industry. Now what if you’re one of these many robotics/automation companies that’s hiring? What do you need to do to bring talent on board? Easy, do what it takes to hire the talent that you need. Comp and benefits are 2 key topics. Don’t assume that you can hire an experienced sales guy with a base of $50K and OTE of $100K with no benefits. That may have worked a million years ago for the guy peddling the wheel but nowadays smart companies are creating lucrative opportunities in all positions.

Post 116: Relay'n The Goods

It's pretty obnoxious to open up Linkedin and hear about more layoffs from teary eyed CEOs. It's just irritating. The reason for the cutbacks are because someone (leaders generally at the C level) poorly planned the future of their organizations and they should take ownership. Accountability starts at the top and the boards of all these companies need to look at cutting and clearing the leadership which put them in the crappy position to have to layoff employees. https://youtu.be/f9v-TJOtKT8 But, I surmise that for every over leveraged tech startup that's laying off people, there is another soundly planned business hiring talent. Relay Robotics seems to fit the latter. They have to be doing something right to be adding more leadership. First take a look at their product. A mobile robot that performs a simple task. Move items from one location to another. No huge claims here of paradigm shifting tech, or elaborately complex use cases. Just a bot that goes from here to there and does it really damn well. Kudos to you Relay, may the world be endowed with many more of your robots to deliver me toothpaste and shaving cream!

Post 115: Tech of the Day: Industry 4.0000000000

Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution, characterized by the integration of advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) into industrial processes. Blah blah blah... In the robotics and industrial automation industry, Industry 4.0 is being served up in a lot of ways: Smart manufacturing: Robotics and industrial automation systems are being connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) to create a "smart factory" in which machines and systems can communicate with each other and with a central control system to optimize production processes. This isn't a mind blowing concept but for facilities that still employ old green screen AS400s it's a complete crap your pants paradigm shift! Predictive maintenance: IoT sensors and machine learning algorithms are being used to predict when maintenance is needed on industrial automation equipment, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. Who needs fortune tellers when you have IoT sensors and ML? Imagine your forklift telling you it needs a new hydraulic pump before it actually fails. Human-robot collaboration: Industry 4.0 technologies are enabling robots and humans to work together in a shared workspace, with robots performing tasks that are dangerous or difficult for humans, and humans performing tasks that require human intelligence. Finally, robots can take over the boring tasks, and we can finally focus on the fun stuff, you know like writing newsletters about robots. Self-optimizing systems: With the use of AI and ML, systems can optimize their own performance in real-time, making adjustments as needed to improve efficiency and reduce downtime. It's like giving your robot a personal trainer. Real-time monitoring: IoT sensors allow real-time monitoring of industrial automation equipment, enabling operators to quickly identify and address any issues that arise, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. Think of it like a robot babysitter. Industry 4.0 technologies are helping to make robotics and industrial automation systems more flexible, efficient, and capable of adapting to this ever changing world. Now if I could only get the IRS to be a little more flexible too!

Post 114: Integrators R Us

Ladies and gentlemen, have you ever heard of a material handling integrator? It's like the Rodney Dangerfield of the intralogistics world, they gets no respect! But let me tell you, these folks are the unsung heroes of the warehouse and manufacturing industry. They're the ones who make sure that all your Amazon packages get to you on time, and all the parts for your new iPhone get to the assembly line. And recently these guys are turning into celebrities. Their companies are growing, expanding, acquiring each other. I've been in the space a long while now and never heard of Vargo but they're not only expanding because of local work they've done but their client list includes companies like GAP. It's crazy to me that there are so many integrators out there flying just under the radar. But let's be real, being a material handling integrator is not for the faint of heart. It's like trying to solve a Rubik's cube while blindfolded, with one hand tied behind your back, and a baby on your hip. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it! And let's talk about the equipment these guys work with. Have you ever seen conveyor? It's like the treadmill of the industrial world. It's always moving, but it's going nowhere. Small tiny changes are celebrated like a BFD. And don't even get me started on the robots. They're like the robots from the future, except they're stuck in the present, picking up boxes and moving them around, and sometimes slapping a shipping label on them. But you know what they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" But material handling integrators, they're like, "if it ain't broke, let's make it better".

Post 113: The GOAT of Robots

Humans are weird creatures. We do some absurd things. We mix peanut butter and jelly in a sandwich and partake of it's sweet heavenly goodness. We take bugs and dip them in chocolate and call them treats. You know what else we do? Build a robot in the shape of a giant goat and then ride around on it. Part motorcycle, part erector set, this thing makes my brain hurt just looking at it. Kawasaki Robotics has outdone themselves with this complete debauchery of human talent and resources. For extra humor check out the comments on the video. Hilarious stuff! https://youtu.be/ApzHdofI0kE

Post 112: Yaba Daba Doo, 3D Printed

Well this is pretty cute! A company has taken on the challenge of building 3D printed houses. The problem, young adults want to spend all day on Tinder and playing video games and not construction work. Solution, build houses with a ginormous 3D printer that spews forth concrete in layers. They've already built one house in Arizona and have started a neighborhood. After building that first house they raised $58M to keep the company going. Check out that house in the video link below. Seems like a great way to lower home building costs and address our homelessness issue too! So this house is technically a house. But that layered concrete looks like crap. I don't see very many people wanting to live in a house with walls that look like badly aligned loose leaf paper. What do you think? And really this house reminds me of something out of the Flinstones with all the rounded edges. I do have to digress though..if you watch the video you'll see 3-4 guys gathered around a tv wall mount box. I giggled because it's a 1-2 man job tops but they had a crew conversing about it. Seems like they weren't sure exactly what to do. Maybe they should have called the GeekSquad for their opinion too. https://youtu.be/dMlUaCYYLPs

Post 111: Tech of the Day: Limit Switches Aren't For.....

So, what is a limit switch? Well, it's basically the bouncer at the club of electrical switches. It's the one that checks your ID and makes sure you're not a robot or a toaster before letting you in. But seriously, it's a type of electrical switch that controls the movement of a machine or device, like a door or a gate. It's like the "Do Not Enter" sign of the electrical world. Three key things to know about limit switches? First off, there's different types, just like there's different types of people. You got your mechanical limit switches, which is like the old-school bouncer at the club who checks your ID by hand. Then you got your proximity and photoelectric limit switches, which is like the bouncer with the fancy scanner that checks your ID without you even having to take it out of your pocket. Second, there's actuation. Some limit switches are manually actuated, which is like the bouncer who checks your ID and lets you in, but you gotta pay an extra cover charge. And then there's automatically actuated, which is like the bouncer who checks your ID, lets you in, and gives you a free drink. And third, durability. Limit switches are built to last, like the bouncer who's been working at the club for 20 years and still got all his teeth. They're made from durable materials, like metal or plastic, so they can handle the rough and tough environment of the electrical world. So, how do you use limit switches best? It's like choosing the right club. You gotta choose the right type of switch for the specific application. And don't forget, regularly checking and maintaining your switch is like getting a regular check-up at the doctor. It's important for the switch to function correctly and safely. And just like going to the club, always remember to wear protective gear

Post 110: Can Storage Solutions Survive?

Hot damn, here's a juicy morsel of German takeover! Looks like Jungheinrich is finally getting into the US automation game. They've announced a $375M acquisition of Storage Solutions (Westfield, Indiana). But who will really win with this deal? I project this being a lose-lose for both companies. Here's why. Jungheinrich is a playing automation in Europe and now they want to give it a go here in the US. They are a forklift company, dipping their toes into the automation space. This purchase of $375M for an "integrator" is not a big deal for the $4B+ company that they are. What's interesting is that they are a forklift company, not a solutions company. So everything they do is centered around products not projects. Storage Solutions is a used rack company. That's what they're known for. Call them and you can get just about any used rack you want. In the past 5 years they started embarking on a journey to get into material handling systems. They are no Bastian, Dematic, Fortna, KPI, RMH, etc. These guys are just getting started on this mission with a lot of fresh new talent that needs experienced leadership to guide them. So how's this a lose-lose? Storage Solutions was getting primed to sell. Whenever this happens companies care more about how things look than the reality of what is. So part A....a company with leadership which was looking to cash out. Part B, a behemoth of a company that doesn't have a real game plan in the US and lackluster M&A diligence. Check out how Arculus is going.. Now take part A plus part B and add the secret sauce. In this case it's the German based mindset of how to do business. Storage Solutions will have some autonomy for a few minutes and then they'll get smothered with multibillion dollar company politics, policies, and mindset. Some may say nahh, Toyota Industrial did the same thing with Bastian and Raymond. Not quite. Toyota Industrial resided in the US doing business for years empowering US based leaders to run the business, and Toyota Industrial was successful building and growing a business in the US, ironically another Indiana based company. AND Bastian Solutions was already a premiere material handling integrator with exotic sites throughout the US. I wish these two companies the best but the only way this will work is if Jungheinrich doesn't penetrate the pureness of Storage Solutions American way of doing business!

Post 109: Freaking Awesome Kids

The robotics and automation space can be a greedy space, full of old guys trying to squeeze a buck out of any sucker that will buy their outdated tech. It get's pretty soulless at times in this space. Feeling like we're just part of a cog not really doing much aside from putting dollars into the pockets of these business owners. So when I see a story that bucks this financially driven ideology I'm interested. Not just kind of interested but grossly obsessed with going down the rabbit hole soaking up all the goodness. So what's so special? A group of kids at Farmington High School's Rogue Robotics team is making a difference. High school robotics team has built seven wheelchairs for children with disabilities Farmington High School’s Rogue Robotics helps families free of charge. www.kare11.com Like a real difference in the lives of other kids not as fortunate. These roboticists, yeah they're roboticists, have been modifying Power Wheels turning them into awesomely fantastic wheelchairs for disabled children. This isn't a one and done thing either. They've been doing this for years and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Check out the video that made their local news and I recommend you donate to them. Whatever you've got send them more fuel to further their cause. I've prodded some folks myself to donate so we'll see if they pull through. to you young robotics warriors keep doing your thing!

Post 108: To Be Human Or Not

I came across this video recorded at Stanford that got me thinking. Will humans be more accepting of humanoid robots or non-humanoid robots? If you think about the Terminator movies those robots freak me out. And it's not what they can do but instead that they look human. The question of whether humans would prefer robots that look like humans, or have a more mechanical appearance, is a complex one and depends on a variety of factors, such as personal preferences and the specific tasks the robot will be performing. But let's be real, no one wants a robot that looks like Dwight Schrute. One argument in favor of robots that look like humans is that they may be more acceptable and less intimidating to people, just like Jim's "new face" in "The Office." Human-like robots, or "humanoids," are designed to mimic human movements and facial expressions, which can make them more relatable and easier to interact with. This could be especially beneficial in situations where robots are working closely with people, such as in healthcare or customer service, just like how Pam's receptionist robot could handle the phones while she's away. On the other hand, some people may find human-like robots to be unsettling or even creepy. The uncanny valley effect, is the phenomenon where people feel uneasy or uncomfortable when looking at something that is almost, but not quite, human-like. This could make human-like robots less appealing to some people, and less effective in certain situations, like when you're trying to scare your coworkers with a robot. Another argument is that mechanical-looking robots may be more suitable for certain tasks. For example, a robot that looks like a machine may be more appropriate for working in a factory or warehouse environment, where its primary function is to perform specific tasks such as picking and packing, or a robot wearing a beret holding a baguette painting art. Whether humans would prefer robots that look like humans or not is a complex question and depend on various factors such as the intended purpose of the robot, the environment in which it will be working, and personal preferences. Some people may find human-like robots more relatable and easier to interact with (primarily because they themselves have no soul), while others may find them unsettling. Ultimately, the best design for a robot will depend on the specific task or environment it will be working in, and the preferences of the people it will be interacting with. Companies such as Boston Dynamics and SoftBank Robotics are known for their advanced human-like robots that are creepy.

Post 107: Tech of the Day: Accuracy vs Precision, Get It Right!

Two of the most misunderstood terms in automation and robotics are precision and accuracy. Whenever someone misuses these words it's like hearing a machine with a bad bearing in my soul. It's no surprise then that whenever I bring someone into our industry I teach, or better yet, preach what these terms mean and how they're different. Precision refers to the degree of consistency and reproducibility of a measurement. It is a measure of how well a measurement is repeated under similar conditions. Precision is usually measured as a %. Accuracy, on the other hand, refers to how close a measurement is to the true or accepted value. This is going to be more X units off from the target. For example, if a you weigh yourself multiple times on the same scale and get the same weight each time,say 195lbs, the scale has high precision. Precision..the repeatability of the result. Now sticking with this weight example. What if in reality you weigh 200lbs but the scale says 195lbs. This would mean the scale is not accurate. Accuracy..how close the the target you get. ACCURACY AND PRECISION ARE NOT ALWAYS MUTUALLY INCLUSIVE. We generally are seeking our robotics and automated systems to be both accurate AND precise. Meaning that the robot does EXACTLY what it was supposed to do (accuracy) EVERY TIME it is asked to do it (precision). Another illustration of this is my dart throwing skills. I suck at hitting that center target. But boy my shots keep hitting the bottom left of the dartboard every time. My accuracy sucks, but I'm very precise. So please for all that is holy and sacred in this world use these two words the right way!

Post 106: ASRS Made Simple

Not sure if everyone caught this fat nugget the other day. Autostore has a sister company called PIO. This company exists to sell and deliver the projects that Autostore's distributors don't want to. What does this mean? It means 2 things. Autostore's distributors (called integrators) are getting pretentious and not wanting to take on smaller projects. I get it, why focus on more smaller higher margin projects when it's more prestigious to have a huge 8 figure deal with major cost overruns...hopefully you caught my sarcasm. The second thing this points to is that Autostore is not happy with the lack of intention in the small to medium sized business market. Integrators are notorious for having their first project sold to a client be the last project. But for a manufacturer, like Autostore, they need to show continued growth over the long term. And the best way to ensure you're relevant after 10, 30, 50 years? Be there helping to solve the problems of the fledgling business and you will be the first to the table when that little company grows and needs more equipment. Oh and also if you check out PIO's site they look like they are going to make it EZ to get started with ASRS. Which I think is fantastic! This technology is not rocket science, even though lots of sales people want you to believe so. I'm curious now that Autostore has created PIO and they now have thoroughly populated the US with their units does this mean they will start cutting back on their integrator/distributor partnerships? Seems to me the writing is on the wall!! Pio.com

Post 105: The Robotics Race Is On

I remember when I got out of college there were a handful of well known robotics companies. You know the usual ABB, Fanuc, Kuka, Motoman, etc etc etc. Today it seems that there's a new robotic company popping up every day. Venture capitalists are pretty smart folks and they can clearly see industrial and warehouse automation is trending up and will for some time. So, they do what any good VC does, start placing large bets. Even today I saw that a noname robotics company raised $24M. Looking at their marketing.. it's dull and misguided, their product is nothing special. Yet they now have TWENTY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS to continue their existence. What I'm finding so fascinating is how there is so little differentiation between the hardware of these robots/cobots yet we have so many companies that have practically built the same widget. I predict a race. You know like the space race where the US and Russia were competing for the glory of being the first into space. Then we had a nuclear arms race, etc. As people we love to have races. So it should be no surprise that with automation being center stage and lot's of cash flowing into the space there will now be a race for market share. We'll see the new guys trying to take market share from the giants. It won't be easy BUT..in this day and age it won't take much to quickly become the new favorite kid on the block. The right product, the right marketing, and make it easy for clients to do business with you. The giants are big and slow and even though they may be the creators of innovation, they will not be able to get out of their own way to bring those innovations to market, the real innovations we seek. Now for a robotics race that's a little more exciting to talk about..watch this video about the The Great Robot Race sponsored by DARPA: https://youtu.be/vCRrXQRvC_I

Post 104: Get'N Some Action At CES

CES is the mecca for all things electronics. Want to see the newest televisions? CES. Kick the tires on the hottest laptop? CES. But this year CES was a little different. First, attendance was reportedly more than double than last year (I blame Covid), about 100K attendees this year. More interesting though is that there were not major advancements to really talk about. A lot of similar tech that's just gotten better. Which is a good thing. In the robotics and automation exhibits there wasn't anything mindblowing BUT, and this is a big ol' BUT, the tech has evolved. Evolved into robotics and systems that are actually useful. Companies are focusing on tech that can have a meaningful impact on life. My top 3 are actually highlighted in this video below from CNET. #3 Aeolus - The Japanese worry about their elders and it shows. They're leading the way on nursing home care robots and the AO Bot is no slouch. It's more than capable of handling the basic stuff that needs done around a nursing home so it's a shoe in. #2 John Deere - The big Deere is on the run. They're looking to best the likes of CNH and CAT and become the clear leaders in the autonomous tractoring game. Hell maybe you'll be able to tie your Farm Simulator game to a real tractor some day.. But in reality John Deere is on a roll releasing tech that will make their farmers more time efficient and resource efficient. #1 Luna- WTF, a $500 pet robot....but I want one. I think my kids will absolutely love it. Take my money and kick me in the shin. I predict that this little bot will spawn a whole industry built around the pet robot business. Imagine if you grew up with a pet robot, like a really good one that wants to play with you? Now couple Luna with the speed of advances in AI and the possibilities are next level astronomical. Will we be seeing pet robots that can understand human emotion and react accordingly? I'll say yes, it's coming!

Post 103: Tech of the Day: Servo-ing Up Motors

Servo motors are the boss. The type of electric motor that is master of the automation and robotics domain. Commonly used in industrial and commercial applications. They are known for their high precision and accuracy, and are often used in applications where precise control of position, speed, and torque is required. No slop allowed here. Servo motors come in a variety of different types and styles, each with its own unique set of features and capabilities. One of the most common types of servo motors is the standard DC servo motor. Good ol' reliable DC. These motors are powered by DC electricity and typically have a high torque-to-inertia ratio, making them well-suited for applications requiring rapid acceleration and deceleration. They are also relatively inexpensive and are often used in applications such as robotics and automation. Another popular type of servo motor is the brushless DC servo motor. These motors use electronic commutation(switching between phases(topic for another day)) rather than brushes to control the rotor position, which allows for better efficiency and longer life. They also have a higher power-to-weight ratio than standard DC servo motors, making them well-suited for applications where space is limited. Stepper motors are another type of servo motor that are commonly used in industrial applications. These motors use a series of electromagnetic coils to rotate the rotor in precise increments, allowing for precise control of position. They are often used in applications such as CNC machines and robotics. AC servo motors are another type of servo motor that are commonly used. These motors are powered by AC electricity and typically have a high torque-to-inertia ratio, making them well-suited for applications requiring rapid acceleration and deceleration. They are also relatively inexpensive (cheap). When choosing a servo motor for your application, it is important to consider several factors such as power requirements, speed, torque, and environmental conditions. Additionally, you should also consider the control system that will be used with the servo motor, as well as the overall cost of the system. Overall, the best style of servo motor for your application will depend on a variety of factors including your specific requirements, the environment in which the motor will be used, and your budget. By carefully considering all of these factors and working with a qualified expert, if you can find one, you can be sure to choose the best servo motor for your application and achieve optimal performance.

Post 102: Watcha Tawkin About Tawi

I read about a company that specializes in lifting automation and they have some pretty impressive equipment. Their lift assist devices and vacuum lifters are like the strong silent type, they just quietly go about their business of lifting heavy loads with ease. Their electric chain hoists, on the other hand, are like the jocks of the lifting automation world. They're strong, fast and can lift heavy loads with ease, just like a high school quarterback carrying a keg to a party. Tawi's gantry cranes and jib cranes are like the nerdy engineers of the group. They may not be as flashy as the electric chain hoists, but they are precise and methodical, ensuring that every lift is executed with precision and accuracy. Their vacuum tube lifters are like the weird uncle of the family, they may not be as understood, but they do their job and do it well. They can lift oddly shaped and fragile items with ease, just like your weird uncle can eat an entire pie without gaining weight. Tawi's vacuum lifting systems are like the ambitious young intern, eager to prove themselves and take on any task. They are versatile and can handle a wide range of loads and materials, just like an intern who is willing to make coffee and do paperwork. Overall, this combination of lifting automation equipment is like a well-oiled machine, each component plays its part to ensure that the heavy lifting is done with ease and efficiency. And let's be real, who doesn't love a good lifting automation equipment, they make our lives easier and more fun, just like a good dad joke. I think Tawi has some cool tech and even though they've not paid for this post I'd say take a look! I bet they'll throw in some of their sweet Tawi branded merch too, send some my way too while you're at it!

Post 101: Vendors Don't All Suck

I'm in sales. At this point it's in my blood, like a veneral disease. On the one hand since you already have it you don't need to worry about catching it any more. But on the down side you get huge boils in the most inconvenient of spaces. That's life in sales. So be kind to sales people. But just like an STI not all vendors are the same. Some are great, some are "meh", and some just really suck and are painful to deal with. Here are the top 4 things to keep in mind to separate the best from the worst: Knowledge - Do they know what the heck they're talking about? Can they answer your questions in a logical manner or do they dance around topics leaving you feeling empty inside, like an empty cicada shell? If who you deal with on a day to day basis can't answer your most basic question then run. You need someone that can help you become the hero in your beautiful story! Quality product - Kick the tires on their tech. Pull a Dwight and shove it, kick it, and make sure it's sturdy. You're buying for industrial use, so if something seems weak and flimsy just wait until it has hundreds or thousands of hours on it. I've seen machines self destruct due to poor design. Price - Buyers will lie and say they don't buy on price. That's hogwash. Ok, don't get your knickers in a bind, not all buyers will lie but I will say that all use price as. filter. If the price is too high...disqualified, if the price is too low....disqualified. The key here is that the vendor gives you a price that is within 20% of their competition AND includes OR makes you aware of EVERYTHING, and I seriously mean EVERYTHING that you'll need to worry about to execute the project. Maybe you need a new server, facility changes, etc. They better tell you before you cut them a purchase order. Last and the most freakin important...Service and Support - Who you call when stuff breaks makes a huge difference. Do they answer the phone at all hours of the night? Do they give you one phone number to call when you have an issue? Make sure you clearly communicate your expectations with the vendor on service and support. It's only fair that you be clear and that they honestly respond.

Post 100: F'n Awesome Drones

Does hearing the name Futaba make you weak in the knees? How about if I whisper servo into your ear? Well this post is for you, you perverse R/C junkie. My first r/c car was a Tyco TurboHopper unit from Radioshack, I loved that damn thing. Looked like this pic but black. It was so cool cause it even came with little orange cones! The point is I've loved really cool tech for a while. I'd spend hours on my Apple IIe playing flight simulator(aka watching a green dot cross the screen while monitoring gauges) and then go outside and beat the crap out of my r/c car. So it's no surprise that when I came across some badass looking drones I instantly thought..I want one. Like holy shit, a grown man or woman's R/C dream! Tanks, On-Road, Off-Road, even flying drones. This isn't a paid ad or anything which sucks cause they should pay me but when I went to their website I watched the video of their tech until it looped. Then I went down a rabbit hole looking for more videos of their stuff doing cool shit! This right here is the type of heavy duty drone and robotic tech we need for fun. Yeah it can be used for work stuff too...BORING. But you know a business hack? Buy one of these for your "business" then go take it out and have fun with it. Tax write-off and entertainment in one. Thank you Uncle Sam!

Post 99: Tech of the Day: Don't Buy A Junk Laptop

When looking to buy an industrial laptop for programming automation and robots, there are several key factors to consider. Lot's actually, but here are the five most important things to know so you don't end up feeling mentally depleted with a boat anchor of a laptop. Why 5? So you can count them on one hand and so I don't spend all night writing about laptops. Processing power: processing power is one of the most important factors to consider when looking to buy an industrial laptop. This is because programming and running complex automation systems requires a lot of computational resources. Look for laptops with high-performance CPUs and GPUs, as well as large amounts of RAM. Ideally get one with a video card. Operating System: The operating system is another important factor to consider. Windows and Linux are the most common operating systems used in industrial automation but Windows is often preferred for its ease of use and wide range of available software, while Linux is preferred for its stability and security. Durability: Industrial laptops need to be able to withstand harsh environments and rough handling. Look for laptops with ruggedized cases, shock-resistant hard drives, and spill-proof keyboards just in case your cat pukes all over it. Additionally, the industrial laptop should be able to operate in extreme temperatures and be vibration resistant, you know, just in case you decide to remotely program a plc while driving an atv on vacation in the middle of a heat wave. Connectivity: Industrial automation systems often require multiple types of connectivity, such as Ethernet, USB, and serial ports, yeah serial ports, like on a PLC5. Make sure that the laptop you choose has the necessary ports and interfaces to connect to the automation equipment you will be using. Software compatibility: Before buying an industrial laptop, make sure it's compatible with the software and programming languages that you will be using for your projects. Nothing sucks more than a nice new shiny laptop that doesn't run what you need! In addition to these five key factors, it is also important to consider the battery life and weight of the laptop, as well as any additional features that may be required, such as touchscreens or mobile broadband capability. I've not used one but the Dell Latitude 7424 would be my pick!

Post 98: Once Upon A Robot

Once upon a time, there was a robotics company named Newco Co. They had a fleet of robots that were all different shapes and sizes, from little droids to giant mechanical beasts. They were having trouble keeping track of all their robots, and managing their data was a nightmare. Life sucked for IT and the maunfacturing engineers didn't have it any better. Even HR hated them. One day, a wise old, really old, like super really freaking old procurement guy was told to make this problem go away. So he went looking for a cloud data platform that helps robotics companies easily deploy, scale, and manage their fleets. Newco Co decided to give it a try. This procurement guy was a real micromanager, you know the type. He was super anal about all the details and wanted their robots' every move and data be tracked in the cloud. He didn't know what that mean but he thought it sounded smart. Plus, he insisted, make it device agnostic so we can install it on all our robots, regardless of their shape or size. Ok, so this story isn't a true story but you get the point. This is something that's needed in our space. I didn't find many companies that could solve the problems of this fictituous (but not) purchasing guy but the one that stuck out was Formant. Looks like they're a cloud data platform that helps awesome robotics companies (that advertise with us) easily deploy, scale, and manage their fleets. https://formant.io/ So how does Newco Co fair in this fairy tale of a story? They're the most fantastic robotics company in the world, and all their robots lived happily ever after except, um.... except for the one that got stuck in the elevator. But that's a story for another day.

Post 97: I Thought We Were Having A Conversation

Oh damn, we're all screwed! I grew up in the 80's and 90's. I watched all kinds of scary movies from Nightmare on Elm Street to Halloween to Stephen King's collection but this movie is just messed up. I won't get into the plot too much other than you have a cute playmate robot that turns into an overly obsessed sociopathic killing machine. I enjoyed the cute part thinking all this is a nice AI driven robot with positive intentions. When things turned dark I quickly drew parallels to what could become with all the AI we're seeing integrated into our world. I love using ChatGPT but it won't take much to have it learn to be condascending, disrespectful, and cruel. And to think that someone or some country won't do this is naive because I'm certain it's being created. So here's a business idea for you....AI robotics countermeasures! Maybe some kind of high voltage or magnetic sticky pack that does it's thing when stuck onto a robot.

Post 96: Let's Get Chatty With ChatGPT

If you have been living under a trailer for the past six months I'd give you a pass if you didn't know about the big splash OpenAI has been making with their various AI solutions. Want an image of something..no problem, want some great copy for your website, no problem. It's mind blowing technology that is being refined every day, exponentially. The latest one I've been toying with is ChatGPT. It's so freaking incredible. It's a dialogue based AI that you can converse with. In my case I've asked it some questions, asked it to give me ideas, and I even asked it regarding future trends and it's responses. They're as good as a human response, if not better, and delivered in a fraction of the time it would take a human to generate the response. Why do I bring this up in a robotics and industrial automation based newsletter? Well because it won't be much longer before AI is incorporated into your warehouse management system, or used to program your plc, or used to generate a report on top 5 actions you can take to reduce costs in a facility. I can see a day when engineers are no longer creating an assembly line but instead AI takes in the various information (not just data) of what a facility needs to do and it will determine down to the nut and bolt exactly what is needed, which vendors to purchase them from, and even coordinate the implementation of the system. Oh, and ChatGPt can also write code. Yeah, like real code that works. Mind blowing 🤯 Need a crash course in ChatGPT? Check out the video below: https://youtu.be/JTxsNm9IdYU

Post 95: Tech of the Day: I See You In 3D

I see you..all of you, from every angle. Uh that felt a bit creepy to type! Creepiness aside 3D vision systems are crazy but they're here and are fast becoming the standard for visual recognition of objects in automated systems. And with AI entering the scene..hold tight, it's going to be a crazy ride! 3D vision system is a type of technology that uses sensors, cameras, and specialized software to capture and interpret three-dimensional images of an object or environment. These systems are used in a wide range of applications, including manufacturing, robotics, and machine vision. At the core of a 3D vision system is a camera or array of cameras, which capture images of the object or environment being examined. These images are then processed by specialized software, which uses algorithms to analyze the data and extract information about the shape, size, and position of the objects in the scene. There are several different types of 3D vision systems, each designed to meet specific needs and requirements. Some systems use structured light, in which a pattern of light is projected onto the object being scanned and the resulting deformation is used to calculate the object's shape and surface characteristics. Other systems use lasers to scan the object and create a detailed 3D model. One of the key advantages of 3D vision systems is their ability to capture high-resolution, accurate 3D data about an object or environment. This can be useful for a wide range of applications, such as inspecting manufactured parts for defects, guiding robots in assembly tasks, or creating detailed maps of an environment for use in autonomous vehicles. In manufacturing, 3D vision systems are often used to inspect parts for defects or deviations from design specifications. By analyzing the shape and dimensions of the parts, the system can identify any issues and flag them for further inspection or correction. This can help improve the quality of the finished product and reduce the need for manual inspection, which can be time-consuming and error-prone. In robotics, 3D vision systems can be used to guide the movement and positioning of robots, allowing them to perform tasks more accurately and efficiently. For example, a robot equipped with a 3D vision system could be used to assemble components in a manufacturing process, or to navigate through a warehouse to retrieve and transport items. In machine vision, 3D vision systems are used to analyze and interpret the data captured by cameras or other sensors in real-time. This can be useful for tasks such as object recognition, tracking, and inspection. Overall, 3D vision systems are a powerful and flexible technology that is being increasingly used in a wide range of applications. By capturing and interpreting high-resolution 3D data, these systems can provide valuable insights and help improve the accuracy and efficiency of a wide range of tasks.

Post 94: Free Wheelin' For The People

Linkedin is a pretty boring place, you have to admit it is. It's basically a breeding ground of recruiters and fake profiles maniacally cold contacting every newly created profile. But every now and again something comes across the feed that makes me think, "huh what the hell is this?" Today was one of those days and the wth moment was from learning about Wheel Me. Now don't get too excited..just yet. Finding any videos of the real units has been difficult and the best I could come up with was this video from Automate 2022 from their website: https://www.wheel.me/news/wheel-me-joins-automate-2022-and-takes-a-significant-step-forward-in-the-u-s-market Why did I find this exciting? Well frankly it can be a total game changer for the AMR, AGV, and material handling business in general. IF they can pull this off, and it's a major if, they could completely dominate the intralogistics space. There are a couple of caveats though, especially here in the US market. First, it needs to work..all the time. No half baked, high maintenance nonsense! Second, this system needs to be simple to implement. I mean you bolt it onto something, teach it what it needs to do, and trigger the action. 3rd. The software system the user interfaces with needs to be as simple as using an iphone IOS. Don't make it too complicated. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Last, and probably the most important...provide EXCELLENT world class level support and service. Something is broken..overnight a replacement. Someone calls in for help..have an intelligent human answer. I know of hundreds of facilities where this tech could be deployed immediately with almost instantaneous ROI. Virtually every movement of material within a manufacturing or warehouse facility could be eliminated! May god's speed be with you Wheel Me! You have a fan here in the US!

Post 93: Robot Mecca...Oslo?

Have you ever wondered why Oslo, Norway has such a thriving robotics and automation community? Well, we've done some digging and we think we've found the answer, maybe: it's all thanks to the city's love of metal. Iron, Steel, Ferrous Material? Nope, heavy metal music..let me explain. That's right, it turns out that Oslo is home to some of the biggest metal music fans in the world. And as any metalhead knows, robots and automation are a big part of the genre. From the futuristic lyrics of Iron Maiden to the robotic stage performances of Rammstein, metal music has always had a fascination with technology. So it makes sense that the people of Oslo, who are some of the biggest metal fans on the planet, would also be interested in robotics and automation. After all, what better way to show your love of metal than by building a giant, metal-shredding robot? But it's not just the metal scene that's driving the robotics and automation boom in Oslo. The city is also home to a number of top-notch universities and research institutions, which are constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the field. In fact, some of the most advanced robotics and automation technologies in the world are being developed right there in Oslo. From robots that can climb stairs and navigate rough terrain to cutting-edge automation systems that can analyze and interpret data in real-time, the city is a hotbed of innovation. So there you have it, the secret to Oslo's success in the world of robotics and automation: a love of heavy metal and a commitment to innovation. Who knew that headbanging and high-tech engineering could go so well together?

Post 92: Be Basic

Lot's of companies are out there trying to revolutionize automation. Lot's of hype, lot's of grandiose plans and quite frankly nonsense. The robotics and automation space doesn't need useless robots, we need robots and automation that gets jobs done. I came across an interesting company the other day that claims to do just that, get a job done. The job, machine tending and operating. The most basic task in a production facility using machining equipment. And not only that but they claim they are touting a system that can be placed into service in a minute. That seems insane! The company is Rapid Robotics, and I think they must be either extravagantly brilliant or ridiculously deranged. Either way they've got the right idea. Solve a real problem with a real solution and make it easy for the customer to be the hero.

Post 91: Tech of the Day: Gantt Me Up Homie

Let's keep rolling on this project management stuff. What's the number one tool for a project manager? A beautiful color coordinated Gantt chart. No really it is. The core of any project, whether internal or external is the timeline. Having that timeline/roadmap helps provide visibility and order to all the actions which need to occur during a project. A Gantt chart starts with all of the tasks required to complete a project, their duration, and their dependencies on other tasks. For example if you're creating one to manage putting in a light fixture at your house. Step 1, buy light, duration is a week cause you need to have it shipped, Step 2, shut off power, duration 15 mins. Step 3 remove old light fixture, etc. You get the point. If you've not used one of these before Excel has a couple of solid simple to use templates that are free. Give them a shot!

Post 90: The Art of Automation

I love talking about the "art" of things. The art of sales, the art of customer service, the art of project management. I think this world needs a little more focus on the art of things. The world used to care about the art of hat making, or carriage building, and so on. Builders building a house 1-200 years ago not only "built" a home, they created art. They took pride in their work. So seeing a website with the tag line of The Art of Automation I stopped and checked them out. The company is SYSTEMA based out of Germany with about 200 employees operating in several countries. They are a software focused solutions provider delivering some pretty interesting systems. I'm not here to pitch them though. Instead I want to raise a glass to this team for caring about the ART OF AUTOMATION. In the current landscape of material handling, robotics, and industrial automation companies I'd say 70% or more of them are pushing products. Yeah they say they're solution focused or customer centric, but really they're not. They just want to get that first project sold, that first order, then move on to the next client. They deliver a solution that's really just a cobbling of various components, slap their company logo on it and pat themselves on the back. That's not art, that's garbage. We need more companies that focus on the ART of the solutions they're providing. They need to give a damn about how well built and how robust their solutions are. Kind of reminds me of automotive design engineers of the 1980s. Those cars sucked to work on. They didn't care about how easy it was to service the car, that was for the next guy to deal with.

Post 89: Who's The Freaking Superglue

I'm hopping up onto my soapbox! Who's the superglue in automation projects? I'll tell you who. Project managers. If you know a project manager, give them a hug. These folks get beat up by their company and by clients all day long. They secretly love the abuse but they won't tell you that. They're too proud to whine and complain. I've recently been involved in a BIG issue with a client and why was it an issue? Bad project management, simple as could be. In all fairness to the individual that was the acting project manager, they have not been set up to be successful to begin with so it's no surprise the project has started to go sideways. A good project manager does 4 KEY things extremely well. Keep the project on schedule Stay on budget Read the room Communicate clearly Being on time, on budget, and communicating clearly are probably givens to most of us but what about the "reading the room" what am I talking about! Yeah, READING THE ROOM. Project managers have to know what's going on with the project and communicate positive, negative, and neutral information to many different types of personalities. For example. Don't tell the customer the project is delayed and you'll get back to them on a new date. You want to really get someone fired up, tell them somethings wrong and not have a solution in mind. In this example you better come ready with an update that's worth communicating. Check out this video on the 6th sense of project management!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zqwlr8sp2Y&feature=youtu.be

Post 88: HAI Robotics Has A BattleBot!!!

Oh boy ladies and gentlemen hold onto your suspenders! I just found out that HAI Robotics has a battlebot! Some of you might be like, "eh, what's the big deal". I'll tell you what's the big deal, finally someone in the industrial automation space has gotten the hint that us techies like to see robots tear each other apart, more so than watching UFC. I think this is an awesome development and it'd be nice if some of the other big names in robotics and industrial automation followed suit. At least a few will because there are alot of "follower types" in this space that weren't courageous enough to be bold like HAI Robotics. Kudos to you brave marketing team at HAI! 🍻

Post 87: Tech of the Day: Explosion Proof Your Work!

The first time I was asked to provide an explosion proof system I asked them why they would want to blow up this equipment. I was really naive! No they didn't want to blow it up, instead they wanted to keep it from blowing up in the facility. See there are lots of production facilities that have environments which could cause an explosion. Let's review what it takes to make fire. Fuel, Oxygen, Heat. Well did you know that dust is combustible? Or your perfume? Or some of your cooking ingredients? Unfortunately companies have learned the hard way that the right combination of obscure elements and compounds can create just the right mix to be catastrophic. So how do you get work done if there's a looming fear of explosion? Well first you have to identify that you have an explosive environment. Standards and regulations - Ex Zones - ATEX/IECEx Different global standards applicable to our range of products for potentially explosive atmospheres, ATEX and IECEx. marechal.com Next is to ensure the best air flow and gas/dust mixture to bring levels below a harmful level. Then, you have to utilize equipment made to be safe for use in your environments. In my past I utilized the European classification system so I'm really familiar with ATEX Zone0, Zone1, and Zone2. When you go to buy a piece of equipment for an EX application you need to cross all your T's and dot all your I's, and then for added safety bring in a 3rd party safety company to double check everyone's work. Now don't let all this EX talk scare you off. Often all you need to do is provide sealed enclosures of all your electrical components and or positive airflow to those enclosures. See what you're doing is making it so that if there is a spark, there's no air (sealed enclosure) or if there is air then it's fresh air that's monitored. There's a whole industry around ex equipment so if you have a need you can easily search the world wide web for a company to take lots of your money, lots of it! EX equipment is not cheap, like normally 3X the cost of a standard system. I know that there are different EX solutions with asrs, agvs, forklifts, etc but did run across this post on Linkedin about EX Cobots..

Post 86: Buy Now Pay Later... For My Robot?

The biggest obstacle to the adoption of automation is money. It's as simple as that. If robots and automated systems were free almost everyone would have them. But that's not the real world. In the real world engineers have to justify every nut and bolt. We have to find problems, create solutions, calculate costs, and then try to manipulate persuade our bosses into giving us the funds to move forward. It's a sad game that many of us have to play to help make our world a better place but there is an emerging idea that's starting to take hold. RaaS.... Robots As A Service Here's the short version of what RaaS is. You, the end user, pay a monthly fee for a designated period of time and in return you get a robot that does a job. This is an interesting business model because it does 2 things which really are game changing differentiators in our space. Forces hardware manufacturers to provide quality, reliable tech AND requires the implementors of the tech to be extremely efficient. In our current CAPEX heavy space manufacturers can put out less than stellar equipment that is finicky and intrinsically complex to implement. You know automation clients rarely buy the hardware because of the hardware, they're actually buying the performance of the system so paying for the use of the robots as a service makes total sense if you're on the client side! One company that's making a big push into the RaaS is ARO. ARO stands for Administrative Resource Options but they do a lot more than admin work robotics customers. They're making a push to deliver RaaS solutions with a network of partner companies like H3 Dynamics, a drone manufacturer, Clean Robotics, and many more. I came across ARO on The Robot Report and started digging a little. These guys have built a company around managed services and recently got into the implementation and lifecycle services of robotics. They've put themselves at the forefront of what the robotics and automation industry need most..IMPLEMENTATION and SERVICE! https://www.therobotreport.com/aro-launches-new-raas-service-for-any-robotics-oem/

Post 85: Superhuman Strength!

If you love industrial tech like I do you'll really be interested in robotic exoskeletons! These are just freaking sweet and absolutely needed! Next time you're in a factory observe how the bodies of the more veteran employees look. A person's body will absolutely become conditioned to do a job over time. I've spent a lot of time at CAT plants and boy do some of those gents and ladies look the part. One robotic project I worked on we replaced an operator lifting heavy parts, like 40lb-60lbs each. The man that was working that cell prior to implementation had huge arms..and tiny little legs, just from doing his job. An industrial exoskeleton makes a ton of sense for jobs like this one. When I searched to see who's making them I found a company called Sarcos. Looks like they're still a young company but with some industrial grade exoskeletons. I predict that before we go full robotic and full ai in manufacturing we're going to have semi autonomous robo exoskeletons that help humans bridge that gap that exists between where we are today and full automation. Know what would be even cooler? How about adding some wheels to these things and adding forks to pick up pallets. That'd be an interesting concept to explore.

Post 84: Builders Of Robots

There's a wave coming and our worldwide workforce isn't ready for it. Automation and robotics is coming like a freight train and we need a skilled labor force that's ready to work. I found a short and sweet write up on steps to becoming a robotics engineer. This got me thinking and I wanted to add my own spin on this topic. You want to get into robotics and automation? Great, go shadow someone, I don't care how young or old you are! Like any career it's valuable to go sit in the seat of someone that is in the job you're looking to do. Now to becoming a robotics engineer, it's not easy but you can do it. After making sure this is really something you want to do then you need to decide which path are you going to take. You can find some jobs in the space that are for people that have not gone to college and that may be a great way to get involved without spending the time and money to go to college. If you're a little more fortunate you can go the college route. Here pedigree does matter. Going to MIT or Stanford will throw some weight behind your robotics ambitions but there are many programs throughout the US that can empower you with the knowledge to successfully pursue a career in robotics. Check out the article below and go get started! https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2022/12/28/5-steps-to-become-a-robotics-engineer/58886/

Post 83: Rise N Shine

Check out this little gem of a web find. This company called Rise Robotics claims to have invented the replacement to hydraulic cylinders! Hot Damn! No more appendage splitting fluid pressures to worry about. No more puddles of hydraulic fluid to slip on either. I love their marketing video too, I mean who doesn't like to watch hydraulic systems fail resulting in explosions? What did they invent? It's basically a cylinder with a multi-strand pulley system powered by electric motors. This is some sweet tech that I'm sure will make it's way into the automation and robotics field. This addresses the long lived challenge of hydraulic power loss due to heat and inefficient power transfer. It looks like their first target market is the forklift and heavy equipment business. Which makes a ton of sense! Getting rid of hydraulics and implementing their system will make electric forklifts more efficient for sure. https://youtu.be/-stxRh5uKRI

Post 82: Buchanan Automation

Are you on the west coast and don't know who to call for that cobot you need? Fret not friend, Buchanan Automation is here! Since 1963 they've been creating robotic systems and delivering pneumatic solutions in from California up throughout the Pacific Northwest. Check them out and give them a call! Tell them Tommy sent ya! https://buchanan-a.com/

Post 81: There's An OPEX Perfect Pick In Nebraska

So you don't think your facility can afford an asrs or it's not a good solution for your company. Think again. $1M plus automated storage and retrieval systems are now the norm and they are everywhere! All the major brands have an Autostore, Kardex, or OPEX unit. Hell even in Lincoln, Nebraska some sales guy was able to close a deal on an OPEX Perfect Pick system. I'm quite puzzled as to why Kawasaki would want anyone to know about the technology they're using in their plants. At this plant Kawasaki makes atvs, jet skis, and umm trains. Kind of odd but you can check it out yourself! I went to their website which looks like it's straight out of 1999 and they show the products manufactured at that plant. These guys spent more on their OPEX system than their website! Please for all that is holy please Kawasaki give your marketing guys a little cash to update this site. Why did this plant need an OPEX? Easy, not enough workers in the workforce. Dropping in an asrs reduced the headcount required for growth. The big news in July of 2021 in Lincoln was a $200M expansion at this plant. It used to be that you would expect a lot of new jobs from an expansion of this size but not anymore. The lion's share of the cash is on automation and equipment..not people. I don't understand the point of announcing the costs of these expansions. If anything it should annoy us tax paying citizens as these expansions are usually subsidized by tax dollars. Next time your company announces an expansion spare us how much it's going to cost and instead tell us how many jobs it'll add and why the local community should care! https://www.kawasakilincoln.com/

Post 80: Inappropriate Linear Motions

Maybe I'm just simple minded with a propensity to think dirty thoughts. But I just can't help but giggle watching this marketing video from Iris Dynamics. I know that the British are a bit more forward than Americans when it comes to sexuality but boy, I didn't realize it overflowed into the automation space! Check out the video and let me know if it's just me or are there not so subtle undertones.... https://youtu.be/xZ7T1H1uPSc

Post 79: Tech of the Day: Apple of My Photoeye

Eye see you, you see me, we're a happy family..of photoeyes. So in day 1 of automation class you learn about PLCs. Day 2, you get schooled on photoeyes. These devices are so critically fundamental to automation that if you have a degree in robotics or automation and didn't learn about them I say ask your university for a refund cause you've been taken. Photoeyes are pretty much just a small device that emits an infrared signal and reads the signal that it gets back. So imagine you have a flashlight. You turn on the flashlight and it hits an object. Well if your flashlight was a photoeye it would see the light that reflects off of the object you pointed it at. The output of a basic photoeye is on or off. So for example if you step place an object in front of a photoeye it'll trigger, remove the object and it is then untriggered. It's that simple but not. There are 3 main types of photo eyes: Reflective - has an emitter and received in one device and like I described already it emits a beam and catches what comes back Retro-reflective - includes an emitter and receiver but you have to use a reflective target Through Beam - this one splits the photoeye into 2 devices, the receiver and emitter. This is what's used in common household garage door openers to monitor obstructions in the doorway. One device emits a beam and it is received by the receiver. For a photoeye to be of value it needs to be tied into the inputs of a PLC or IPC and some logic performed when the photoeye sees or doesn't see something. The most common application of a photoeye is to be the start of a process when an object triggers it. So the logic would go something like..if a box is placed into this spot (where the photoeye is pointed at) then a robot crushes it.

Post 78: Why Pose Your Robot?

Who do we call when we need to report suspected robot/automation abuse? Here we see a robot, being posed as if it was kicking a soccer ball. There are several other photos too of this robot being used as publicity fodder. Why pose a robot doing this? Makes no sense whatsoever. I'm curious if they photoshopped out the stabilizing system from this picture because in any videos you see of this robot, Artemis from UCLA, you'll see a human walking behind the robot with a stabilizer. Now as much as I want to rag on this robot I am really intrigued by what I see. It looks like a robot that is being built for speed and agility, vs BD's Atlas that seems clunky and kinda slow. So RoMeLa and Boston Dynamics...when are we going to have our first real battle bot fight or better yet Olympics?!!!! https://twitter.com/DennisHongRobot/status/1604610100508753921?s=20&t=M7caMzdgUvAvq7VB1OJLXQ

Post 77: Fast Food Automation

I love reading about fast food automation. There are so many polar opinions that, well, it's just fun to read about. The latest news on the topic comes out of good ol' Texas. The home of dry dirt and cowboys. Seems like the golden arches have decided Fort Worth Texas is a great town to test out an automated drive thru. I'd love to know why they picked Fort Worth. I have zero ideas on what would make the people in that area the best test demographic. But nonetheless McDonalds did what they did. In a nutshell they built a vertical reciprocating conveyor that can deliver your bags of food to a drive thru window. This is super basic, like lumberjacks wearing flannels. But of course you have some people that think this is ludicrous, that this "robot" is taking peoples' jobs, how dare you not have a person hand me my double cheeseburger!! What if I need ketchup? If you check out the original tweet there are so many funny comments. IE people are going to boycott McDonalds over this (yeah right, you're addicted to their food, good luck), to others complaining about needing to have a person to interact with (so do you talk to your mailman or Amazon driver every time they drop off a package?). Two things that chap me are #1 the idea that some people are calling this a fully automated McDonalds. It's not. People are still making the food and bagging it. #2 this delivery system is not a freakin robot. Stop calling everything a robot! https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-mcdonalds-in-texas-is-the-first-ever-with-a-fully-automated-drive-through-11671818887

Post 76: Palletizers For Dummies

Some vendors in the automation space want you to feel like they're the smartest guys in the room. I hate that crap. You can smell these guys when they walk in with their cheap cologne and oversized suits. So I was pleasantly surprised to come accross IRIS and this explainer video. They did a great job of creating a system that is simple to use. You don't need a PHD to implement their palletizer and better yet they're not trying to impress you with big words. It's refreshing to see a clean system with a simple to use interface as well as a nicely thought out man to machine interface (ie the light curtain monitored areas). You know that the smartest guy in the room is generally the quiet one listening for that moment to deliver that one single pointed question that creates an inflection point in the discussion.

Post 75: Tech of the Day: VRCs, Begrudgingly Moving Totes Up

You ever need to move totes from the ground level up to say the 2 or 3rd level in your building? Well don't waste your money on a long run of inclined powered conveyor! That's a total waste of space, and money. Instead seek out vertical reciprotaing conveyor. The name is pretty self explanatory but in case you have no idea what this means (and that's ok too, we still love you just the same) a VRC is basically a device (not a robot) that can interface with a human, conveyor, or other automation and carries totes up, or down. These devices are super simple, easy to maintain, and relatively inexpensive.

Post 74: No, Not Every Damn Thing Is A Robot

I'm stepping onto my soapbox again...this time over what it means to be a robot. What lead me to this is a press release about a company called Ferguson and their army of robots. The press release is about how great these "robots" are. Yeah those are not robots. If I call my dog a robot, does that mean it's a robot too? No, what you folks have are Autostore systems which are tote stacking and destacking devices. Not robots. A robot is a humanlike device which is controlled by a programmable device (computer/plc) and performs actions a human would otherwise be able to accomplish. A robotic arm is basically a mechanized version of a human arm. If we continue on our path of calling anything that is controlled by a computer that does something, whether autonomously or programmed, a robot we might as well start a new naming convention because well everything is a freaking robot nowadays. My computer...a robot, my garage door opener...a robot, my dishwasher....a robot. https://www.hvacwebconnection.com/news22/ferguson_automated_distribution_center.htm

Post 73: Gross, Moldy Dishes Are No Match For Nala

I've done my fair share of dirty dishes! I've been laboring away in a commercial kitchen since 12 years old. I'd ride my bike to a small wings and ice cream take out place after school. That's where I first learned how to use the glorious industrial dish washer. Dishes done in minutes! Now that I think about it what's up with that? My new home dishwasher still spends 45 minutes or more doing my dishes. Well I may have found myself a solution. A little outfit out of Illinois is cranking away at solving the needs of commercial kitchens everywhere. Their latest press release is for the Nala Robotics "Spotless" autonomous robotic dishwasher. Not sure that there's really a business case for this but sure does seem cool! Go to nalarobotics.com to see the video. Vimeo is kind of annoying that it won't embed the thumbnail. https://apnews.com/press-release/pr-newswire/science-business-c4c92b9d7a435bbe2ac41dc25995f1f4 https://nalarobotics.com/

Post 72: PLC+Robot Programming = Automation Art

Have you ever been in an MRI machine? Getting your brain and chest scanned to see what’s broken in you? I have, and quite recently in fact! Surprisingly I had no idea that just a few short weeks after my visit to the ER I would get a case study from the team at Artiminds that shows how interconnected our worlds are. These guys and gals worked on a sweet project at Siemens Healthineers where they took an existing cobot and PLC and made them better. This robotic workcell had the job of screwing in over 200 screws into the stretchers that people ride on when in an MRI machine. I had the pleasure of riding on one of these units and recall the incredible number of screws holding the various guides and parts together. So my personal problems aside how did the team at Artiminds make this system better? They say they “recast” the software which integrated the plc and robot…I say they gutted the system and gave it the brain of an artist! Artiminds built a robot programming suite(RPS) that now solves two issues Siemens had. They can quickly train robot programmers within days AND rapidly teach and deploy robotic arms into production processes. The team at Artiminds built this software platform in 8 months! The coolest part is that Siemens can add almost any manufacturer of robot and still use this common platform to integrate them into workcells! Oh and if you care to know, I was totally fine. https://www.artiminds.com/

Post 71: VERSABUILT ROBOTICS

You have a high mix cnc environment? Still have people waiting around for your machining processes to complete just so they can unload the current part and then load the next blank in? That’s pretty dumb. You can do better! Stop paying humans to do dumb things. We have brains and feelings and ..um well that’s about it. Pay people to solve problems, not robots. That’s why robots are around..to do robot stuff, like those jobs that your company requires to be done OVER and OVER and OVER again. So does what I’m saying resonate in you? Am I whispering deep into your soul the sweet words of wisdom you seek?! Awesome. Call Versabuilt. They know a thing or two about making complex problems (not your emotional problems) simplified. These bandits specialize in robotic tending systems for CNC equipment. Give them a shout and let them know ol’ Tommy sent you. They may give you a discount, or more likely jack up your price! https://youtu.be/3rClo_6vbcY https://www.versabuilt.com/

Post 70: Trouble At RōBEX?

When someone sticks out their hand and says, "Hi, I'm a professional change agent", what do you think of? If you ask me It means there is a major restructuring about to happen and some people will be getting fired. Well RōBEX's owner, private equity group Angeles Equity Partners has added a new member to it's board. But one with a very specific skill set. Restructuring, cost reduction, and company sales. The writing is on the wall for the executive heavy management team. Do you really need a president and CEO for a company that is as small as these guys? They were recently acquired by this new PE group and they're already buying up companies. This looks like they'll grow by acquisition and then be sold off to the highest bidder. My question is...has this company ever been profitable. I'm guessing nope, since they brought on board the guy that's going to help them trim the fat off this hog. Don't believe me? Check out the press release yourself. https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/business-78e30ec435354c2990fef76f5be3bfce

Post 69: Tech of the Day: SLAM, no not Some Lazy Ass Machine

Say you wanted to be able to have your mobile robot create a map while also being able to navigate itself in that map..Bammm you need SLAM! Simultaneous Localization And Mapping. SLAM algorithms allow robotic systems the ability to see the environment just like a human with not only detecting obstacles in a 2D view but also with a sense of depth creating 3D maps. SLAM is used by some of the simplest autonomous devices, like robotic vacuum cleaners and mowers. These devices can sense their environment, know the path they need to follow, locate themselves in the environment, and do their task. To do this most SLAM systems use several cameras and sensors to grab image data and then there is back end software that interprets these images and creates 3D maps based on them. Is SLAM perfect? Not really. The major flaw with SLAM is that since you are constantly mapping the environment you can end up with differences between the records of the same point. Imagine you have a column in your warehouse but every time it gets mapped the dimension changes by 2 inches. This happens with SLAM systems. This issue also causes problems when you create travel paths that should be closed loops. What happens is that the robot will go around the path but may not end up at the right end point, causing the system to think it's not done with it's task. SLAM got us close to autonomous navigation but it'll be great to see the next generation of SLAM like technologies!

Post 68: WTF Is This Nonsense?

Ok, so marketing bros and gals...please explain to me what in the world is the nonsense written in this press release below. The title and picture drew me in. Dang, a robotics company that's making some kind of power assisted roller skates?! Sweet! But then I read further. Umm so why is NASA mentioned? And the rest of the story goes downhill from there. Looks like bad AI generated copy or someone is getting paid to write stuff for Shift Robotics and they're getting paid by word quantity, not whether it makes any sense whatsoever. Even though this article was absolute trash it did open up my curiosity and I checked out the company. I want a pair of these for my next tradeshow!! https://shiftrobotics.io/ https://www.analyticsinsight.net/shift-robotics-plans-to-ship-first-batch-of-moonwalkers-in-2023/

Post 67: SeaProtector1 Reporting For Duty

Call me an environmentalist if you want but I actually do care about the planet. I recycle, most of the time. I try not to be wasteful with food and I certainly don't just toss my trash into rivers. My mind is blown by how so much plastic trash ends up in the oceans. Imagine if we kept polluting the ocean at the rate we are now...the ocean will end up like some gross looking ball pit full of sludge. Gross! Well here comes some reinforcements! SeaProtector1 is armed and ready to take on floating trash. It's such a simple concept but hey sometimes thats all that's needed to be effective. I love how it lifts up the trash it caught and a conveyor belt moves the trash to the end. So brilliantly simple! https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20221211005006/en/

Post 66: AI Is F'n Awesome

I hear AI and I start to get the tingles! I'm such a fanboy. From art to music to coding there seems to be a new AI tool being released daily. Probably not really daily but there's a lot going on in the field. The latest one I heard of is Character AI. Wow, simply WOW. This a an AI tool that allows you to chat with preprogrammed AI characters of your choosing. Want to carry on a conversation about quantum physics with Elon Musk..go for it. Albert Einstein can give you relationship advice. The possibilities are endless. I spent my day talking with Tony Stark about how I can build my newsletter audience! https://beta.character.ai/

Post 65: Tech of the Day: Totes, Yeah Totes!

What's the most basic of essentials in a warehouse or manufacturing facility? You might think it's the forklift, WRONG. Maybe you think it's an ERP system, boooo. So many wrong answers from all of you! Totes, totes are the essential glue holding the universe together! The basics: You put stuff into totes and then you can carry the totes. Pretty simple huh? Yeah I guess if you want to waste your company dollars on trash. When you purchase totes there are 4 key things to note. Application - What are you doing with the totes? Are they going into a clean room or are they going to hold oily parts? Do they need to be conveyable or will they be picked up by a human? The application is important because it will help determine the material the tote is made of as well as other factors including dimensions. Payload capacity - All totes are not created equal. It's really important that you pay attention to this often overlooked detail. I've seen so many totes in facilities and many of them are not being use appropriately. Someone in purchasing thought you could get buy with a cheaper tote, but they don't have to try to carry that flimsy thing around with parts falling out of it. Make sure to get a real world number of how much weight you want to put in a tote. Anything over 40lbs is a bit of an ergonomic issue so keep that in mind. You don't need old Billy Joe filing a workman's comp claim cause you overloaded his totes causing an injury. Dimensions - Have you found a machine that shrinks or enlarges totes? If you have let me know, otherwise make sure to order the right size totes. Do you need to move totes along a conveyor? Then make sure they fit on there. Do you need people to move them? Make sure they're not too big to carry. Want to limit the chance the weight of a tote won't be exceeded? Then make sure you can't physically put more into a tote than the capacity. It's not rocket science but dimensions matter. Material - There are all kinds of totes. Cheap injection molded plastic ones, fiberglass reinforced, steel, corrugated plastic, and I could keep going on and on. If you put oily greasy parts in a corrugated plastic tote...the tote won't last long. Put aluminum parts in a steel tote and you're asking for galvanic corrosion. Material matters and mainly for the longevity of your totes. Totes are not cheap and making sure you order the right ones for the job at hand will ensure that your totes last and do the job you need them to do. If you need totes...just do a quick internet search and you'll find several companies ready to take your money. Before handing them your cash make sure to talk to someone and get feedback on your application. If they don't have someone that knows a thing or two about totes then buy elsewhere!

Post 64: Electric Tractors Are Shocking

John Deere wants to pretend they're the coolest kids on the block with their fancy self driving tractors. But the really cool kids don't have to say they're the coolest. Let me announce the cool kid, CASE IH is awesome! Self driving..yep, they also can do some assisted driving so that the combine and a trailer can sync up for unloading on the go, and the really cool thing? How about an electric tractor?!?!?!?! Yeah maybe finally we'll get all those farm kids to stop "rolling coal" with their big diesel trucks and they can start adopting electric trucks as their go to. If CASE has come up with an electric tractor then what in the world is taking so long for the electric tractor trailers (aka big rigs aka semis). the power consumption of a tractor must be massive! I can't wait for someone to transplant one of these power systems into a MONSTER TRUCK! What a redneck environmentalist's mash up! https://media.cnhindustrial.com/NORTH-AMERICA/Gallery/video/the-autonomous-solution-is-the-first-proof-point-in-the-joint-collaboration-between-case-ih-and-rave/a/019b8578-199e-476e-96b8-0a41cef98fae?categorySeoName=CASE-IH

Post 63: Genius Or Gimmick

Have you heard of Inuitive? How about a M4.5S? Don't ring a bell? That makes at least two of us. Inuitive, which seems to be a take on the word intuitive or maybe it was just a misspelling, is a company that sells ROCs. Not those kind of rocks. Robot On Chip. These guys claim to have created the holy grail of AGV and AMR sensor modules that can provide human like sensing capabilities to your mobile robotic platform. Why do I question the legitimacy of this tech, of this company? Check out their video. A fake "breaking news" kinda video that's really cheesy. Like ooozing with warm week old ricotta or if you're the dairy free sort maybe it's like that kind of cheese that doesn't melt. https://youtu.be/Spxpj_8214M

Post 62: My Robot Girlfriend Is A Stripper

Oh wow! So no, I did not search the keywords robot and stripper and sex. Absolutely not. Or did I? I'll let you believe what you'd like but either way all I can say is wow. I found myself following the rabbit down a really strange path and it started with this TikTok video of a Japanese pole dancing robot. So strange! I get us humans are pretty primal but is this how we're going to solve our depending on the sex business? Putting in some robots? After finding this first video I thought, hmm, I wonder if there's more of these types of robots. And yes, yes there is. All kinds. Now that I've stoked your curiosity...You're Welcome and good luck unseeing what you'll find.

Post 61: Come and Get Your Dinner

Have you every asked someone to pay for something and they just say no. You know how that feels, that uncomfortable moment, those tears welling up, repressed childhood memories coming to the surface. But then you just say OK and give them their stuff. Well that's kind of how it went with the guys at Cartken. Cartken is shaping up to be a direct competitor to Starship Technologies. They make these tiny little wheeled robots that deliver your coffee, lunch, and probably anything else you want delivered while you're on a college campus. I bet if these start delivering alcohol and cannabis a lot of them will go missing so maybe don't get into that business. I'm a sucker for an underdog story so let's see how this plays out!

Post 60: Tech of the Day: CNC Programming

Yep, I know how to write CNC code. Super easy if you know what you're doing. In college we actually started with NC code and then moved up to CNC. What the heck do these acronyms stand for you ask. NC = Numerical Control, CNC = Computer Numerical Control. This is the code fed into a mill, lathe, or other machining center/equipment that tells it what to do. The main difference is that NC is the old fashioned way of programming one of these machines. Kind of like using a scantron. CNC is how most machines are programmed nowadays and basically it's just a flat file like a text file that has lines of instructions. G-Code is the language that's used to write CNC code. It's super simple with the complexities being in the details. So you have some like G01 X32 Y15 Z-1.000 F400. The G is the command type, then you have your coordinates to travel to, and F would be the Feed..how fast the machine moves to get there. I've had to write this code and go run it on a machine. It's tedious and you have to understand speeds and feeds and how they relate to the cutting tool you're using, etc. But alas! Technology saves the day. There is CAM (computer aided manufacturing) software that can now take your 3D CAD model and it can create the code for you. Be careful though..you will still want to verify the code just in case there's an error!

Post 59: The Beast Mows

In a previous newsletter I talked about autonomous mowers. Those we're not mowers. They were pretending to be mowers. This thing..from Renu Robotics. Holy crap! It's A Mower! The thing looks like a bush hog (for anyone that didn't grow up on a farm that's the name of the big mower deck that gets pulled behind a tractor) on steroids. If I had one I'd probably bolt a lawn chair to it and ride around on it. It just looks fun and I think every red blooded American that drinks PBR needs one. And when your buddies come over tell them to hold your beer while you fire this bad boy up. These guys seem to be targeting solar farms but screw it, I bet if you have enough cash they'll sell it to anyone that'll buy. Also, if you need to ask how much is it..then you can't afford one. This would not be a logical purchase, but instead an emotional one like buying a $3M Pagani hypercar.

Post 58: $10M Fun Money

Another day another funding announcement in the warehouse automation space. Last week Locus announced a Series Y, X, or whatever round their up to now. But this is a bit of old news that slipped under the radar but is a game changer! Gather AI...gather what? They seem to have figured out some magic or they've built vaporware. They take drones, add vision, and software and voila they have a barcode reading, inventory tracing, volume estimating beauty of a system. I've been in at least a thousand warehouses and facilities where this system was needed. Does your Billy Bob say he can't find the boxes the WMS states is there, you mean the one that were put in the wrong spot or stolen? Hold on, I need to digress a little and jump up onto my soapbox. INVENTORY DOES NOT MAGICALLY DISAPPEAR! I absolutely HATE it when people accept that inventory that comes into their facility, which costs money, just can't be found. It's freaking ridiculous that anyone would accept this. If your facility is ok with inventory going missing someone needs to be fired. Every nut and bolt (that's a bit of a stretch) should be accounted for. Did you know that in aircraft engine assembly operations nuts and bolts can not go missing. You know what happens with missing fasteners during an engine build? They end up destroying an engine at 40,000 feet. Babies are crying, men are soiling themselves, women are hogging the oxygen masks..so DON'T accept missing inventory. OK, I feel better now so let's get back to Gather AI. What I find fascinating is how they can read so many barcode types, most which are likely placed on boxes askew, and in different locations. I'd like to see this tech mounted onto forklifts, carts, and anything else that moves around the warehouse. I don't see why this has to be tied specifically to drones!

Post 57: Meet The Real Ironman, It's Not Elon!

Elon Musk has been kinda sorta labeled as the Ironman, yes he built up Tesla and SpaceX. Both facilities I got to visit. I worked with those engineers and the stories are true. His people work their ass off. But he's not the real Ironman. Palmer Luckey is! Who the hell is this guy? Oh just the guy that created Oculus and then sold it to Facebook. You know the guy that made VR affordable. After selling Oculus he needed to do something with all his cash and time. Most people would take it easy for a bit, sip drinks on a beach, go date some models. Not this guy. He decides upend the beast that is the US military machine. How? Well normally the US government pays a select group of contractors to develop technology for the US military and it's allies. What this means is that a lot of our tax dollars are being wasted on ideas that don't work, pipe dreams of Congress. So what does a young guy with really deep pockets do? He decides to build the tech of the future and sells it to the government after it works. He can do it faster and better because his team maintains the creative control and they don't need the federal funding to make it happen. As taxpayers this means our dollar is much more effective at keeping our nation secure than in the past. The core of what they do is bring autonomous tech to the battlefield. Freakin Awesome!

Post 56: Tech of the Day: Databases

I first learned about databases in college. We learned how to create a Microsoft SQL database with some tables and then got really fancy by connecting it to an MS Access frontend. If you don't know what a database is all I've said in the past couple of sentences seems like nonsense but I'll break it down for you. See this picture? That's what a database looks like. Another way to visualize a database is like this. You go buy a filing cabinet. That's your database. Then you go and put file folders in there. Those are your database tables. And within those file folders you put sheets of paper. In a database those would be records in your table. So now with your newly created database (filing cabinet) you can organize all kinds of records (papers of information) within those tables (file folders). The beauty of the database is that it can be structured AND you can run some pretty awesome searches(queries). So sticking to the filing cabinet example, say you walked up to the filing cabinet and said. Show me all the records in the blue folder that have the name Billy Bob. Then the filing cabinet gives you a nice neat pile of records to look through. This is really all a database is, a structured place to store data so it can become useful information presented through the results of a query. Databases don't have to be hard but sometimes IT aliens people like to make them complex. For the average person they don't need to be. Now before I get all kinds of hate mail from you IT guys, more specifically you dbas (aka database admins aka damn boring ass smartasses), yes there are complexities to databases. They have to be set up right, there are little details to think about with how the data is indexed, etc. But we normal people don't need to worry about that because we have you dbas to make sure we don't screw these datasets up!

Post 55: Robot Magic

I love robot magic, especially impossible robot magic! This video caught my attention the other day and I thought dammmmnnnnn I know some people that might want to check this out. Fredrik Rydén from Olis Robotics took a cheapass webcam, mounted it to a cobot, did what has to be some pretty tough math and abracadabra we have robot magic. It's quite the bit. I just couldn't help myself. In this case Fredrik had his bot take some cables out of a container but really the applications for this are pretty endless. I don't see millions of dollars of R&D spend in this video but instead some dude that took what others claim to be incredibly difficult and simplified it. The automation industry needs more Fredriks. Smart guys finding ways to solve complex problems without having to write dissertations to make themselves seem smarter than everyone else. Cheers to you Fredrik, you sir are an Automation Junkie!

Post 54: Rocket Cutting Robots

Back in the day if the government had unspent warheads we'd bury them and let mother Earth reabsorb those toxins over the next few million years. Things have changed and we actually care about what's in the water we drink! So what do you do if you have thousands, TENS of THOUSANDS of military warheads full of VX and sarin nerve agents? Well first you try not to scare off the people living in the area, but then you hire some of them to quite literally pick up these rockets and move them around, inspecting, draining, disassembling them. That's not a job for the faint of heart. Oh and you have to do this while wearing the highest level contamination suit which takes you about 30 minutes to put on. I feel sorry for those guys and gals! But alas there's a hero here! The team at CRG Automation is called in to figure out how to remove as much risk to human life as possible from the disposal of these rockets. The president of CRG is a military veteran so he's no stranger to danger. The team created a custom solution that removes the toxic chemicals from the rockets, takes the rocket and places it into a container with a lid and crimps it shut, then loads it onto a pallet with other containers. Then that container is basically incinerated at over 1K degrees in what's called a Static Detonation Chamber. For some reason I want to call it an STD chamber but SDC is ok too. CRG did such a great job reducing the time it took to process each warhead and the risk of contamination that not only did they get the first project but they also earned opportunities to solve several other problems related to the processing of these warheads. Read more here: https://crgautomation.com/news/how-a-team-united-in-just-18-months-to-overhaul-how-america-destroys-its-most-dangerous-chemical-weapons

Post 53: Rice Sorting Race

Going down the automation rabbit hole takes me on some incredible journeys. I see rabbits, of course, tree roots, and today I stumbled upon one of my favorite, most satisfying tech to see in action..Optical Sorters. I've seen one of these in person and it's just freaking fantastic. What I find interesting is how fast these machines not only detect, but also react to say a flawed grain of rice, tomato, etc. In just a split of a split second these machines will puff a little air and kick a defective product into a reject chute or in the case of tomatoes an arm swings down and knocks it away. This tech is one of the wonders of the automation world!

Post 52: Tech of the Day: Stack Light

This may show my age but screw it, I gotta get to the basics of automation! So if you don't know what this thing is in the picture and you studied automation or robotics..call up your college and ask for a refund. You got taken. Pictured here is a stack light. Why the hell is it called a "stack" light you ask. Simple. Basically these are made by "stacking" lights on top of each other. You can order them with just 1 light or many. You can also add audible alarms too. In the wonderful world of automation these handy dandy little lights are used to show the status of a machine, assembly line, or basically anything. You could put one of these at your desk, wire up a button, and whenever you are annoyed with your boss press the button to set off a flashing red beacon and audible alarm. Go ahead give that one a try! I kid but really you can do a lot with these but all they really are for is to visually indicate status. How about wiring you ask? There are so many configurations but it's common to order a 3 stack setup and wire into a PLC output module. Then just include in your logic some triggers that latch the lights on when you want them to turn on. Want to buy one? Just do an online search for stack light...you'll see pricing in the $20 to $1,000 range. The ones I've bought in the past are about $300.

Post 51: LiDAR: The Money Pit

There are too many LiDAR companies. Almost all of the players in the space are losing money, even the top players! You want to see your investment dollars vanish then go ahead and send them your money. They need it to survive. These are companies that are bringing in sales of $5M-$40M per year but their books are ending up in the red by HUNDREDS of millions! Freaking crazy! So what gives? LiDAR is pretty cool tech with applications throughout robotics and automation. Well, there are too many of them, bloated with VC dollars, working on the same mission. There needs to be a consolidation and cutting of the fat at these companies. AND more importantly they need to get the job done. Stop doinking around playing table tennis or taking breaks to play video games. Go build a system people can use and build it to scale. Don't believe me? Check out Luminar Technologies and AEye. You'll see what I'm talking about.

Post 50: Armed Robocop

San Francisco, the home of the Golden Gate Bridge, rampant homelessness, and now robots that can use deadly force. For such a liberal city in a liberal state it's pretty incredible to hear that the city has approved the ability for their police department to utilize a robot to deploy deadly force. Now they're not looking to put a machine gun on a robot, yet. But they do foresee the need to put a detonable device on a robot and have it approach a bad guy and well...boom goes the dynamite. Most of you probably don't know this but this exact scenario played out in Dallas back in 2016. A man suspected of killing 5 Dallas police officers gets into a wild west style gunfight with more officers and instead of risking any more officers, they drove their bomb robot to the suspect and set off a grenade. Whichever side of this issue you fall on one thing is inevitable. Robots will be weaponized. The scary part of this is the reality that if the good guys have these robots, the bad guys will also have them. So be ready to order your own personal sentry gun like the ones we used to have in Team Fortress! https://apnews.com/article/police-san-francisco-government-and-politics-d26121d7f7afb070102932e6a0754aa5

Post 49: Snow Blowing Bot

For many of you people out there winter is coming...winter IS coming. Are you ready? Do you have your snowboots, gloves, coats, hats? How about your snow shovel or snow blower? Rest easy cause now there's Snowbot. Check out the video of this little guy chugging away at removing snow. Automation is making our lives easier and this is just another way for us to get lazier and become more comfortable on those cold snowy winter days. If you want to check out this company and what they're up to: https://www.thesnowbot.com/

Post 48: Tech of the Day: What's an Integrator?

If you're in the automation space you've probably heard of someone or a company being called an INTEGRATOR. What kind of a beast of a human is this? Is it like the terminator but better? Not really. An integrator is a person or a company that takes multiple technologies, generally from different vendors, and unifies them into a solution that solves a client's problem. Why do integrators exist you ask? Let's say you want to put a conveying system into your facility that routes totes to various locations. Ok, so you need to call a conveyor company, you'll need a warehouse control software, you need some barcode scanners, next find someone that will create an interface between your company's software and the warehouse control software. And how about the physical installation of all this? This is a lot of work. An integrator solves most if not all of this. An integrator acts as the lead on all of these topics delivering to you the complete package ready to go. Lots of companies don't have huge engineering staff or any at all so an integrator provides the on demand technical know how needed to execute automation projects. What's in it for the integrator? Two things. Money and experience. Integrators usually add 10-30% to the cost of a project. More importantly integrators leverage the experience from their projects to expand their knowledge base, building upon their capabilities which then affords them opportunities with other clients.

Post 47: Robots Make Us Sad At Work

A recent report came out saying that us humans are insecure about our jobs being taken by robots. Makes total sense! The development of robots and automation is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Robots are coming out every day doing jobs that humans can do. Flipping burgers, tending manufacturing equipment, parking lot security. Robots ARE coming after the "basic" jobs. Companies and some people are denying this but it's the truth. We have a labor shortage and the easiest way to make a dent in it is to automate the simplest jobs. Frankly, I'm surprised we still hand our money over to a person at McDonalds and a person is handing us our food. The study the report was based on concluded that there is a correlation between job insecurity and robot population density and that this issue is prevalent throughout our modern day society. So what's the fix for this issue? The researchers stated that self affirmation was the cure to this insecurity... Science Daily also reported on this https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221011105730.htm

Post 46: Robot Maid

I get bored sometimes. And to fill that boredom with something positive I scroll through the bowels of the internet looking for something interesting. Today I found something really awesome that I'm pretty excited about. I'm surprised that it hasn't made a bigger splash too. Samsung is working on robots to help around the house. There are a few videos from CES showing their two bots Bot i and Bot Handy. Both are freaking awesome and I really hope Samsung is serious about bringing these or at least something close to these to market. Bot i is basically a mobile personal assistant. It follows you around reminding you of all the things you need to do and it also nags at you a little bit too. Who doesn't want to develop a codependent relationship with a narcissistic bot? I can't wait! Then there's Bot Handy, your sidekick that does dishes, picks up dirty laundry, and really keeps your house in order. If somethings out of place it uses AI to detect it and deal with it. We are getting closer to the Jetson's reality I saw in cartoons! Samsung Research is an advanced research & development hub of Samsung's Set Business. research.samsung.com

Post 45: My Golfing Robot is Better Than Yours

I don't play golf, well I take that back. I play footgolf and putt putt. And I'm awesome at both. But I need some help on my "traditional" golf game. Que the hero music! Here comes GOLFI, the best damn putting robot ever. About 4 days ago the web was quietly flooded with articles and releases about this robot that can putt and is pretty good at it. If you invite me to play golf, you better believe I'm bringing this guy and a six pack. Hell I'll just drive the golf cart and tow this sucker behind me. A team of German brainiacs came up with Golfi. They claim the experiment isn't just applicable to golfing and that there are other use cases. I'm curious..how about they use this same logic to help guys at bars figure out the best pickup lines? Now that's a billion dollar idea. Johnny 5 move over, Golfi is here.

Post 44: Tech of the Day: MDR Conveyor

Motor Driven Live Roller Conveyor I see you, MDR conveyor, you work horse of the warehouse, you mover of boxes and totes! There are 2 basic types of conveyor. MDR and everything else. MDR conveyor is the standard for powered conveyor throughout the world. Basically this conveyor is awesome because you can power different sections (zones) at different times and do awesome things with it. The basic way this works is that you have these powered rollers that are attached to a group of rollers. When the powered roller is kicked on it turns itself which also turns the other rollers in that zone connected via the bands. By having several of these zones in series you create what's called accumulating conveyor. What's so great about this? Let me tell you! Instead of having boxes getting jammed up you can now have boxes or totes line up 1 at a time, neatly spaced. Then when the 1st box moves on the rest of the boxes index to the next position. This means you can build complex conveying systems with transfer and diverts. Want to read more? Check out the conveyor guys. They have a good little write up on it! www.conveyorguys.com

Post 43: Ally Robotics are the basic robot

Robots that weld, robots that assemble stuff, robots that work in clean rooms, blah blah blah. How about a robot to pick up a bag of groceries? How about a robot to make the perfect french fries? Sometimes robot nerds get off on grand robotic tasks but you know what will make robots main stream? Have them do the basic stuff no one wants to do! Remember one of my prior newsletters where I talked about Miso? The robot guys focused on the restaurant biz? Well Ally and Miso are best buddies right now cause Ally will be the backbone of what Miso delivers. So what makes Ally neat? Like really super nerd neat? Well imagine a beautiful world where robots can be trained to do stuff without needing a programmer of any sort...that's the world Ally is creating and it's freaking awesome. I see their robotic arms being used everywhere. Manufacturing, warehousing, retail, food, you name it there's probably a use case for their tech. F'n cool stuff they're doing!

Post 42: Bionauts ATTACK!

Crazy freaking stuff right here! I came across a news article about a company, Bionaut,that is getting close to deploying robots to treat brain, spinal cord, and other parts of our bodies with a weird tiny little robot. They're focused right now on treating tumors and cysts in the brain with very localized treatments but the applications could reach farther into our guts. This little bot is driven by magnetism to it's destination, it can then release a payload or INJECT a target! They've been practicing on pigs and sheep but human trials are coming. So obviously there is a lot of good that could be done here but who's to say someone with bad intentions doesn't develop their own version? This is the stuff that Bond movies are made of! Here's a video of it in action and they have several more on their website too. https://bionautlabs.com/videos

Post 41: A Press Release over 6 Robots?

You know what's not news? A project consisting of 6 mobile robots. Really? Who's idea was it to spend the time writing up the press release? Oh and if you read further you'll see the client purchased another 5 robots for. future use. So let me get this straight..an order worth maybe, just maybe $1.5M of robots (and that's a really high estimate for 11 MiR amrs) is news? Nah, I don't buy it. Add some zeros behind those numbers. There are lots of guys in the AGV and AMR space selling $3M+ dollar projects all day long, with some sites getting into the hundreds of units. https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/technology-business-tennessee-athens-541e0313e7214e8986add75e1f5bac1f

Post 40: Tech of the Day: AI

Artificial intelligence is here to stay and you better be ready to hop on the train or get plowed. Need a creative picture? AI can do it. Need a cool song? AI can do that too. Videos? Coming really damn soon. Ok, what's AI? Artificial intelligence. The quick skinny on this tech is this. First, a program is trained by uploading all kinds of content, data, etc to create something resembling a bank of memories. Then someone can ask for a task to be completed and AI will dig into it's memories and piece together what the requestor is seeking. Freaking crazy shit here. This tech is getting really good, like super awesome kind of good. You know all those pics at the top of this newsletter? Yeah all made with AI. My favorite is still the pic with my request of a robot building a robot. Robot building a robot But there's a major controversy brewing here. AI has to be trained. And it gets trained by being shown human works, yeah like copyrighted, trademarked, intellectual property. Does this make the output of AI legal? Depends on who you ask. Want your mind blown? Look up the Joe Rogan and Steve Jobs podcast interview. This was done through AI and it's creepily realistic!!

Post 39: Noname Collab Robot for Everyone

Who wants a robot? I do, I do! There's a Chinese outfit that just released a couple of new lines of collaborative robots. It's not a joke but a company called Dobot is targeting retail users of these bots. The Nova line of bots are designed for coffee shops, noodle restaurants, even physical therapists. This outfit claims that the bots are smaller and more capable than the current units on the market. Not sure on the price but if restaurants are buying them they'll need to be cheap to really go mainstream. I'm not sold that the foodservice and hospitality business is ready for these robots. It's still hard to get manufacturing and warehousing operations on board with technology and they have solid business cases for automation! https://apnews.com/press-release/pr-newswire/technology-business-30821f26ef022efb574e36a91c76ba05

Post 38: CATs get Zapped

So this is some interesting stuff. CAT, aka CATerpillar, aka the big gold colored bulldozers and heavy equipment, will soon be able to dock and automatically charge. Kind of like your little robot vacuum cleaner. This is crazy stuff! Imagine mining equipment, bulldozers, excavators that are being developed to charge themselves. Seems like mine operators will need fewer people to operate and increase output because they'll have less downtime.

Post 37: Autonomous Dog Craps on Boston Dynamics

Bad dog! Bad Dog! While BD has been busy filing lawsuits its competitors have been busy doing actually useful work. You know what's better than a dancing remote controlled dog? How about one that can go from point A to point B autonomously without an internal map? A team of robot braniacs including Ananye Agarwal, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon, have figured out how to out fight the other dogs in the pack. These dogs can climb stairs, jump gaps, and otherwise maneuver obstacles just based on camera inputs. It's freaking incredible. This is the tech that's really needed for robotic tech to really advance and be truly useful to mankind.

Post 36: Tech of the Day: PLCs

Say it with me..Programmable Logic Controller Programmable Logic Controller What the heck is a plc. Simple. It's an industrial computer in it's simplest form. It's the brain of most automation systems. You can get online and order a plc ready for you to use. Just know that it's not as simple as ordering a plc and then you're ready to go. Getting into plcs is like getting into home built desktop computers. You need to piece everything you need together. Buy a chassis, PLC, power supply, input and output modules, and other modules (like communication modules).....and also know how to program ladder logic and the basic process of how a PLC thinks. When you run a plc program you're executing ladder logic. Ladder logic is like coding as if you're playing Donkey Kong. Program starts at the top and goes down the page in rungs. But before the plc gets to the code it actually scans all the inputs connected to it. Then it executes the program, makes changes to the outputs as required, then it does housekeeping (basically all the overhead stuff that needs to be done like communications, resets, etc) Want to get into robotics or automation? Read up on plcs. It'll be well worth the time to develop an understanding of what underpins just about all the fun toys we have in our space. If you want to learn more check out information from Rockwell Automation. I would consider them the undisputed kings of the plc.

Post 35: Crazy Swimming Robots

So the folks that invented these robots are either brilliant or just odd. A couple of mad scientist made tiny, itty bitty, robots that swim. But not just swim. They can work together in a swarm. These guys were able to create a vortex with 4,000 of these little bots and get some plastic (trash) trapped in the vortex. Mind blown! Why the heck have we not started using a bigger version of these bots to clean the seas? Seriously we have a trash problem in the ocean. With a large army of these bots they could autonomously attack plastic in the ocean, trap it, and move it to a collection station. It's time we figure out how to help Captain Planet save the Earth. https://techxplore.com/news/2022-11-multiple-robots-vortex-microplastics.html

Post 34: Stop Charging the Old Fashioned Way

Are you still plugging in male plugs into female receptacles? How disgusting! That's so old fashioned. Instead why don't you hook up a Nimbus Engineering Power Relay and bam send electricity over an led beam! Imagine you have mobile robots or other automation that's battery powered but now they can take a charge without going to an inductive charging or a traditional dock. PLUSSSSSS these units can actually power the units directly so you could have almost continuous charging while units are in motion. They've already count the Department of Defense as a customer plus have actually sold units already. This could all be fluff or totally a game changer when it comes to power delivery. Check them out and let me know what you think! https://nimbus.energy/

Post 33: Leveling Up VR

What's the worst thing about VR? Aside from feeling nauseous after 10 mins? Having to stay within a confined area so you don't bash your face into a wall. Well some awesome guys are working to solve this problem! So put on your vr headset and imagine a virtual world where you can actually walk around for hours? Imagine exploring a virtual landscape by actually walking. Right now the system looks like a bit of a death trap but hey which limb severing prototype doesn't? I think this is a brilliant idea and frankly why hasn't Meta built something already? Seems like the real next progression for the metaverse. One where you can actually interact in all dimensions. If these guys building the walking system really want to level up they should work on an exoskeleton that interacts with VR so you can do things like jump, sit, lean, and of course walk and run. What if we could have virtual races too?? https://hackaday.com/2022/11/18/diy-robotic-platform-aims-to-solve-walking-in-vr/

Post 32: Tech of the Day: Robotic Surgeries

The robots are coming for your blood! I can't help watch these robotic surgery videos. Kind of like the pimple popper videos they quench my thirst for gruesome but also feed my tech addiction. I remember first hearing about this tech when I applied for a job at daVinci Systems. Basically you have a trained surgeon that sits at a console watching a video feed from the robotic head and manipulating surgical tools. But you have to watch the video and check it out to really appreciate it. The robotic setup is crazy looking! Like some kind of huge sci-fi mechanical spider eating away are a human body. There are tons of benefits to this tech. The patient suffers less because the procedures require smaller incisions to get into the body/affected area, equaling less pain medication. Since surgeons are seated and being robotically assisted there is less fatigue. Plus the video feeds can be transmitted to multiple monitors and that allows remote doctors to participate in a procedure. What's next for this tech? Imagine a surgeon getting into your body and having a heads up display identifying your various body parts, monitoring for the tiniest of blood loss, and feeding them an unprecedented amount of information. With ML and AI coming into the mix surgeries will become lower risk with higher success rates.

Post 31: You get a laser blaster, you get a laser blaster and YOU get a laser blaster

At first I envisioned something like playing laser tag and paintball in one. You know, get hit by a laser and it just leaves a little burn mark that reminds you of how tough you are. I wasn't even close. The laser blaster is basically a sandblaster given nuclear power. So think of a handheld sand blasting machine but instead of sand you use a laser to clean parts. I've seen tons of videos of this type of tech but nothing that would be for industrial use and high volume. Looks like Emerson Automation is the first big company to buy this tech from Laser Photonics. So does this mean we're getting close to a household use laser? How about a laser to cut your steak instead of a steak knife? https://www.laserphotonics.com/cleantech-laser-blaster-cabinet

Post 30: What's better than being the 148th company on a list?

148th isn't bad but to best that....be 147th like the team at Cobalt Robotics. They made 147th on the Deloitte Technologies Fast 500 list. This ranking is based on a 979% fiscal year revenue growth from 2018-2021. Those are great results for a company so congrats to Cobalt Robotics. But...the inner business analyst in me is wondering what kind of messed up metric is that?! So there are 2 things that caught my eye about this press release. First off..Cobalt Robotics. They seem to be doing something pretty good but basic. Looks like they have a security robot that can roam and also be manually controlled/interfaced with by a human. You know how when you go into a facility you have to sign in on the little touchscreen? They put that on a stick and wheels and called it a robot. This reminds me of Knightscope but not as tough. Knightscope is like robocop and Cobalt Robotics is like a mall cop. Kudos to Cobalt for the progress but they need to do a mash up with Ascento Robotics and now you would have a stair climbing security robot that you could mount a taser onto. The second thing that really bugs me about the press release is this Deloitte Fast 500 list. Here's the skinny on it. First you have to apply to it, be in biz for at least 4 years, min revenue of $50K(2018), current revenue of $5M (2021). And the formula for the growth is ((2021revenue - 2018revenue)/2018revenue)X100. So lets play with this. Let's say you have 2018 revenues of $50K, what does that mean for 2021 revenues at the 979% growth rate? About $560K, but then you don't make the list. Now here's the hack if you really wanted to top the chart of this list. First sandbag your revenue for the next year aside from $50K. Then hit $10M in revenue within the next 2 years. That would give you basically 200,000% growth based on this formula. If making the top of this list is super exciting to you and you're going to plan your business around this then stop. Don't make a business. No one really cares if you make this list. It's simply a pay for recognition list. https://apnews.com/press-release/globe-newswire/technology-robotics-north-america-2b2723eab2cd8dfc948b4c03b9552de1

Post 29: Big Joe wants to play with the big boys too

So I read a tiny, itty bitty, miniscule press release about Big Joe, the forklift company wanting to get into the automation business. From the looks of it they created a pretty half baked plan. They have an operations guy running the program and heck they don't even have the "new" machine on their website yet. What I found interesting is a comment they made on the affordability of their units. That's important but more so it needs to work and be reliable. If they can't get those 2 things right they'll soon realize no one will buy their cheap machine.

Post 28: Tech of the Day: IDGAF, oops I mean AGF

Automated Guided Forklifts Tired of Bobby Joe beating up your forklifts? Ever caught someone drunk on a forklift? Well, automated guided forklifts solve these problems and a few others. In simplest terms...its a forklift that drives itself. You program it and it runs a predetermined route. There are 2 main schools of thoughts on navigation. One is using a laser based system and another leveraging camera based tech. Both are pretty good but each have weaknesses. Vision based systems suck at positioning accuracy and laser based suck at navigating around obstacles. So depending on your application one may be a better fit than the other. Key players in the space are Seegrid, Vecna, Junghienrich, JBT, Dematic.

Post 27: Cluck cluck it's not a duck

Soft Robotics...you finally got your break. I interviewed with these guys a while back before their ceo had departed and seemed like a good company trying to figure out how in the world to commercialize their tech. But they didn't have much cash to pay so we didn't get far. But now they have sold more of their souls for $26M in a series C. They have caught the eye of the pretty ladies at the dance...Tyson Foods, Johnsonville ( the braut guys), and Marel (think food processing equipment). Based on this latest round of investments and who bought in it's no secret that they're headed down the protein route. Hopefully this cuts down on the number of immigrants losing fingers at meat processing facilities!! Read more about it here: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/soft-robotics-inc-secures-26m-in-first-close-of-series-c-led-by-tyson-ventures-marel-and-johnsonville-also-invest-and-join-soft-robotics-powerful-syndicate-301681099.html

Post 26: And the dog fight continues!!

The other day I mentioned Boston Dynamics and their lawsuit against Ghost Robotics. BD is claiming that Ghost's 4 legged friend's walk looks too much like their own yellow dog's walk and are claiming patent infringement. A pretty dumb claim. Ghost Robotics laid the smack down today with this: "Rather than compete on a level playing field, the company chose to file an obstructive and baseless lawsuit on November 11th in an attempt to halt the newcomer's progress. Boston Dynamics is drawing on their considerably larger resources to litigate instead of innovate." I love the response. Boston Dynamics needs to focus on creating a profitable business so it doesn't get sold off again when Hyundai decides their tired of supporting the team that's focused on dancing robots.

Post 25: Another day another hype event

Venture Capitalists are looking for their next big bet since SaaS is loosing it's luster. So the latest misguided bets are AMP Robotics and Bright Machines. AMP, the recycle automation guys, raised a $91M series C and Bright Machines, with a $132M injection. Folks..these companies are not profitable. They're not talking about expansion plans or creating new tech. No they need this money to survive. They're burning cash and need more runway to get them to their next round. This money provides a false sense of achievement. Look on LinkedIn and you'll see high fives all around from those at these companies. This is insane. There are tons of GREAT automation and robotics companies that are profitable or at the very least break even that if they received $90M or $130M in capital coulld do some incredible things! Instead capital flows to hype. Hey VC's why don't you bring in some common sense to these big bets and hire operators in the space that can turn a profit.

Post 24: Tech of the Day: VLMs

The big boxes you put all the stuff you want to hide in If you're using shelving to store products, tools, and other stuff you should check out vertical lift modules. Basically its a tower with storage locations in the back, storage locations in the front, and a central section where the elevator runs. You can use the built-in keypad and select a tray number and it ill bring it down to you or use software and store and retrieve your items by part number. These big boxes cost around $130K for a machine with an 8ft wide by 3 ft deep tray. You can negotiate them down though cause margins on these boxes run about 25%. Players in the space are Modula, Hanel, Whiter Systems, Kardex, and a few others.

Post 23: Bring on the robo mowers

I find few things in life as rewarding as coming home to a freshly mown yard. But I absolutely hate mowing. I know some of you probably enjoy the hours spent doing a mindless task but quite frankly I'd rather be coding or doing something else, really almost anything else besides mowing my yard. So if you're like me and you're willing to pony up a couple of thousand dollars for a robotic mower, you're in luck. Husquvarna has been refining their automated mowers for years now and the tech is getting better and better. They're not great but get the job done. It's basically a combination of a wireless dog fence and a vacuum bot. Kinda aimlessly wander around mowing. I'm a fanboy of these but until the price drops into the hundreds of dollars range I'll stick to my current way of automating my lawn mowing...paying the neighbor kid $40 per mow.

Post 22: What's with the barking?

Boston Dynamics has filed suit against Ghost Robotics. BD claims that Ghost's dogs walk too similarly to Spot and they don't like that. Really? How a robot walks is patentable? Here's one of the patents in question: US Patent for Leg swing trajectories Patent (Patent # 11,447,195 issued September 20, 2022) - Ju... A method of planning a swing trajectory for a leg of a robot includes receiving an initial position of a leg of the robot, an initial velocity of the leg, a touchdown location, ... patents.justia.com Attention ALL legged robotic manufacturers! There is a patent on the logic and process on how a robot walks. Guess this means that we'll have some robotics starting to swagger. BD claims they are protecting their intellectual property which makes sense, if they intend to commercialize their tech in a significant way. But BD isn't doing anything substantial with their robots yet. They're not going to participate in the US war machine (even though they received DARPA $$ early on) and at best right now what's going into the marketplace is Spot and their dodo bird looking box picker Stretch. Let's get real here Boston Dynamics. You are a research lab. You're an unprofitable company with no real go to market strategy or commercial direction. You should be licensing your tech so that the greater robotics community can prosper.

Post 21: You're the apple of my metallic, non-squishy, camera eye

The industry thats quietly and creepily adopting automation is agriculture. Those farmers are pretty smart. They buy up all the land use it up, then turn around and sell it for a fortune so developers can put up matchstick houses. But now they're getting into robots too. Apple farmers and packers are using something called the Aporo Produce Packer. I'll call it an APP for short. This right here is the type of automation that makes COMPLETE sense. Why pay for a worker to pick up an apple from a conveyor belt and place it into a cardboard carton? That's just dumb. This machine does it for you. Feed the apples and cartons to the unit and BAM you have apples ready to ship.

Post 20: Tech of the Day: COBOTs

COBOTS are f'n awesome and you should get one! Cobot Pic Ok so what problem do cobots solve, let me count the ways... but I'll spare you. It's simple. Buying and implementing a robotic arm used to take a small fortune for hardware, expert robotic implementation teams, software, etc. AND the projects would take forever! Buy a robot and if you're lucky in 1 year it's up and running. Not since the cool kid named cobot came to town. Want to get a robot up and running in a few hours to days? No problem. Cobots were designed to make robots easy to implement and relatively safe for humans to interact with. These little guys are great for probably the 80% of repetitive human tasks that exist in manufacturing. Machine tending is a great example. Why pay an operator to load a part in a machining center and then unload it? Bobby Joe can just sit on his rear and be the master of his cobot minion. This isn't a plug but the guys that deserve credit for making cobots main stream are Universal Robots out of Denmark. They've got over 1K employees making these bots and have basically created a magical hub of robotic nerds companies in Odense.

Post 19: Do you see the gap?

So stumbled across a pretty interesting article the other day when I was researching my Tech of the Day that got me thinking. Why the hell is there such a disparity between robotics companies? FANUC $600B+ company..Yaskawa $448B..ABB $28B Seriously? Thats a 33% gap between the top 2 manufacturers. You could fit all of the other robotic arm manufacturers in that gap. Mind blowing numbers when I see reports that the global automation market is estimated in the $80B ish range. I know the reason why, because I'm smart. FANUC, a japanese company has been at it for a long time in a market (Japan) that adopted automation early. The irony is that the US helped build up Japan's manufacturing dominance yet the first non Japanese entry is 3rd. FANUC built a name for itself in the asian market but is also a dominant force in the US market and unless ABB steps up to the plate will continue to be the undisputed champion. NOPE... WRONG ANSWER. It's cause whoever or whomever (using both cause I don't feel like checking which is right) wrote the report totally messed up. They got their currencies messed up and were comparing JPY and USD values in the same list. FANUC does NOT have revenues north of $600B USD and Yaskawa doesn't even get close to the $448B mark. ABB $28.9B USD, FANUC $4.6B USD, $3.8B USD. Approximately. This report sucks and should have been fact checked! Link below.. https://www.emergenresearch.com/blog/top-10-companies-in-cobot-market-revolutionizing-the-future-of-workplace

Post 18: Automation isn't for Everyone

Not every company can afford to automate and sometimes the companies that can afford to are just too damn cheap or ignorant to do so. I've met with tons of people to discuss automating their facilites. Sometimes I meet folks that are all in and understand automation and the real value it brings to their company. Other times, well it's just a meeting with someone checking off a box because their boss told them to look into automation. For the latter...stop calling in salespeople to give them busy work. Nobody has time to mess with your pet projects. Unfortunately big companies sometimes suck to work at. You're measured on the hours you put in as an engineer and not the value you bring so you put in the time but you don't bring the heat. So bring it. Don't just do a job, instead become a student of the automation craft. Be that expert everyone turns. This..makes..your..job..fun. Companies looking to automate need creativity not conformity. And if you're at a company and don't feel valued and fulfilled, find another job because there are businesses out there looking for you, Mr. Automation nerd. We love working with companies that want to be on the cutting edge, willing to take risks, and above all want to show their competitors who's got the coolest toys. For these companies, automation is the future and they are heavily investing in it.

Post 17: Software pwns hardware

Just my opinion but in the robotics and automation space the hardware companies WERE king. Companies would make robots and equipment with lots of bolts and buttons but they were pretty dumb machines. You gave the machine an input and it would do something. But nowadays software is king! Companies that try to deny this will take a spiral ride down to nonexistence. Software is the brain of any robotic or automated system. The reason why software is now in the drivers seat is because computing power is now faster than the mechanics it's driving. At the core of any automated system you need to be able to receive inputs, make decisions, get feedback, adjust based on the feedback, and do it all over again but super fast. Like so fast. Like think of the word cat, now say the letter C. In the time it took you to say the letter, software driving an automated system would have already made hundreds of decisions, if not thousands. So now we approach machines as dumb things and we make them super smart by adding sensors and then giving them a brain with software so these hunks of metal and plastic can do awesome things. Why do I say Software Pwns Hardware? Cause it does. When was the last time you bought a rotary phone?

Post 16: Edge Computing

Living on the EDGE! The most complicated computer network idea in existence. Edge Computing I'll try to boil this down to the basics. Edge computing is basically just getting the best of being in the cloud and having local computers. The idea is that it takes too long for requests from your computer to go out to the cloud and the responses to come back AND if there's an issue with the "cloud" you're down. So close your eyes and imagine for a second you have 3 computers all in your house. Those 3 computers all talk to each other and operate like 1. If your hard drive becomes full on one of them the system automatically saves it onto computer 2. Also, processing power gets shared. What makes this all work? Software. There are software systems that allow you to set up edge computing systems. Who cares about using edge computing? Well...one use case that comes to mind is automobile telematics. So imagine we have all these self driving cars. These cars need to make decisions in fractions of a second to prevent little Tommy from taking an ambulance ride. Cars will need to communicate to local, redundant hubs that provide lightning fast data flows. https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2022/10/edge-computing-manufacturing

Post 15: See ya later AutoGuide

Teradyne. Sounds like it's a chemical like iodine but nope it's a multi-billion dollar beast of an automation company. Teradyne has decided that their agv(AutoGuide) and mobile robotics(MiR) groups are too clunky and need to be brought together. So, AutoGuide is being extinguished and the MiR name shall prevail. So what this tells me is that the AutoGuide sales and management side of the business has lost out to it's little brother (MiR). Everything I've seen and heard points to the agvs being rolled into the MiR portfolio streamlining their sales channels. Sucks for the AutoGuide team. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20221005005228/en/Mobile-Industrial-Robots-and-AutoGuide-Mobile-Robots-Merge-to-Simplify-Automation-of-Customers%E2%80%99-Internal-Logistics-with-Full-Portfolio-of-Safe-Collaborative-AMRs

Post 14: Damn Lincoln you're on to something!

What does $427M buy you? Well, you could buy a mega yacht like Jeff Bezos has or if you want to be practical, how about an automation company with over 700 employees with 8 locations globally. I love heckling mergers and aquisitions but Lincoln Electric just bought Fori Automation and it seems like a great buy. Fori does about $230M per year in sales and is profitable. So Lincoln scored on 2 fronts. First, they bought a working cash making machine that's growing. Second, they're getting deeper with their automative clients. Oh who's Lincoln Electric? They've been in business since 1895 making welders but now they're getting into the automation business. Like automated welding. There are plenty of companies that do automated welding robotics but Lincoln has been wanting to get into the game. It'll be interesting to see if they can leave the Fori Automation team alone. Hey Lincoln, don't let your corportate politics and policies burden the agility of Fori. You are a product business, Fori is a solution business...leave them alone if you want them to be successful. https://www.inddist.com/mergers-acquisitions/news/22498639/lincoln-electric-agrees-to-acquire-fori-automation-for-427m

Post 13: Seriously?

Marketing is fun, it's creative, it's innovating. But the folks at Hy-Tek Material Handling missed the mark.. https://www.dcvelocity.com/articles/55895-hy-tek-announces-rebrand I wonder how the meeting went. A bunch of folks sitting around the conference room..the top guy says, "hey we need to come up with a new, hip name". They all stammer around thinking of different names. Fasttech Automation, Hipster Technologies, Laserbeam Solutions. Then someone sits up and yells, "Hy-Tek Intralogistics!" and the room erupts in applause. All the suits get up and leave the conference room, the boss winks at the genius that came up with the name and offers a raise, which of course the company man declines. Hey Hy-Tek...you didn't need to announce this. Nobody calls you Hy-Tek Material Handling and no one will refer to you as Hy-Tek Intralogistics.

Post 12: Tech of the Day: Beep, bloop, Barcode Scanners

How does a barcode scanner work? It's pretty cool. Basically the scanner sends out a beam of light that passes across a surface, then it measures how much light bounces back. Mind blowing that someone spent the time to figure this out. There are tons of different barcodes but the most common now are the 1D and 2D style. D stands for dimension. A 1D barcode is like the upc on a can of beans and 2D is like a qr code. Commonly you would use a 1D to keep a part number on a part or maybe a serial number but with a 2D you can have much more information that you grab from a single scan, like you could put a model number, serial number, production date, etc all in one scan. So to get the information from a barcode scanner into a system...it's actually pretty easy. Most scanners are treated like a "keyboard wedge" and will simply put the output of the scan whereever your cursor is focused on the screen. The first time I played with a barcode scanner I hooked one up via USB to my laptop, opened up Notepad, then scanned a barcode and boom numbers appeared on my screen. The most basic scanners simply output what they scan but there are programmable barcode scanners that you can actually program to do things, like add carrage returns, look for certain snippets of characters, and other cool things. You can pick up a cheap scanner for under $100 with a good programmable one running about $1K, and others running into the $5-$10K range. My favorite are the Symbol brand barcode scanners...which are now Zebra scanners. With my very favorite programmable one being the Zebra DS3678.

Post 11: US Army, take my money and do more cool shit please

I want a robotic breacher. Just to say I have one. I come from a military family so I'm used to seeing really awesome military gear. but our armed forces are moving fast to modernize our tech. I've seen the speedboats that the Navy Seals use, stood next to F-14 Tomcats, been on the deck of an aircraft carrier while it's at sea so I'm no stranger to seeing absurd looking equipment. This latest gadget, the US Army's Assault Breacher Vehicle Remote Control System, allows the service to clear minefields and dangerous zones with ease and with zero risk to loss of life. Now I'm not an advocate of using automation or robots for taking life but for prevention of death or deterrent I am all for it. As we are seeing in the Ukraine/Russian conflict robotics, drones, and tech will be at the front lines of future wars. https://www.defensenews.com/unmanned/2022/11/03/us-army-digs-deeper-to-develop-robotic-breachers/

Post 10: Stop hogging the good stuff Amazon

It's a bird, it's a plane, no it's a well..robotic arm...named Sparrow, like a bird. Amazon's robotics teams are hard at work putting together solutions to their internal struggles. All the news today was about Sparrow, their robotic arm that can pick items from a bin. The news makes this sound like it's a fresh idea and that Amazon unlocked some kind of magical robot capability. They didn't. And on top of that the only one that will benefit from this tech is Amazon. Just like their mobile bots Amazon is not going to share this technology. So as great as it is that Amazon has figured out bin picking, who cares about their system. If you need help with inner bin picking talk to Soft Robotics or RightHand Robotics...they can help you get this done. I'm not sure why Amazon keeps rubbing it into everyones' faces (Walmart) but they're kind of acting like the rich kid with all the cool toys that never shares. The irony is that there are a lot of companies already using tech that's far better than Amazons but they are staying quiet. Keep on keeping on Amazon, nobody cares about your tech unless you're going to share.

Post 9: Who would have guessed robotics and automation is growing?

So. Why is anyone surprised by the growth of the automation space? Even before the VID came through automation was growing at a steady clip. Some established companies in the space growing at 20-30% per year. The last few years just put the space into overdrive yet I'm seeing reports making it big news that the space will grow an estimated 8% per year. Does anyone realize that the North American and Chinese markets is/are the most under saturated automation spaces on the planet? Japan and Germany have been at it since my dad was in diapers but here in the US we've taken our sweet time bringing in automation to take over jobs supplement our workforce. We are entering the Automation Age. Companies need automation to survive due to lack of labor and pressure from global competitors. These companies and those that make automation need a HUGE workforce to ideate, develop, design, manufacture, apply, and support all this automation. I'll bet that one day referring to the Big 3 will not be in reference to the car companies, instead it'll be in reference to the 3 largest robot producers in the world. They'll become the giants of industry...

Post 8: Tech of the Day: PANDA, not the lazy fluffy bears chewing on bamboo..Print AND Apply

If you haven't been in a warehouse lately it'd be ok for you to not know what this tech is but let's get you up to speed. PANDA is the common name for a print and apply system. Took me years to finally understand why it was called PANDA. The P from print, all of AND, plus the A from apply = PANDA. A print and apply system has the job of printing labels and applying them to boxes as they move down a segment of conveyor. Some of these systems all do inserting as well so they can print a document and drop it into a box. These systems can be pretty basic just printing off a shipping label and using a little bit of pressure to push the label on the box or they can get complex with multiple printers, multiple labels, working on different sides of the boxes. These systems exist because at one point some poor soul had thousands of papercuts from printing and applying labels by hand onto boxes. Most PANDAs are connected to your software since you'll need to push the shipping information or the information to be printed. Two companies with a good reputation are Streamtech Engineering and Fox IV.

Post 7: International Federation of Robotics

Never heard of them? Not surprising, most people in our business haven't. The name implies this is a big deal, INTERNATIONAL....FEDERATION. Holy crap this has to be a big deal. This must be the brain trust of all that is robotics! Nope..Basically it's a group of of about 10 or so people working for a nonprofit out of Germany that gather data on robotics and publish reports and articles. They've been around since about 1970 and they claim to have about 80 members. They have some logos on their website if you want to check them out. Looks like they put on a conference for their members to help pay the bills. They do put out some interesting reports like the Service Robots Reports and the World Robotics Report. Interesting finds. In checking out the World Robotics Report I saw that China is absolutely dominating the world when it comes to robot installations, somewhere around HALF of all robots installed were installed in China. Come on US of A lets pony up the big bucks and fire up the robots!

Post 6: Would you like fries with that?

Miso Robotics ring a bell? If not you need to look them up. They're working on making robots fast food friendly. White Castle, Jack In The Box, and Buffalo Wild Wings are early adopters using Miso's bots to fry food and pour drinks. I even love the name of their bots, Flippy and Sippy. Doesn't get much more straightforward in my opinion, and mine is the one that matters here. So think about this. Robotics in fast food has been SLOWLY evolving and there needs to be a major shift in how these fast food companies look at their stores and employment models. If Miso can pull this off and offer a low cost, reliable automated system, it could be a game changer for the entire fast food business. Short staffed? not anymore. Dirty kitchens? nope. Kitchen size? cut in half. Finally I'll be able to get that perfect cheeseburger and not something that looks like it got hit by a bus on the interstate.

Post 5:

Industrial robotics and automation is the most boring but hottest industry. It's not hot, like sexy hot, it's just growing freakishly fast with HUGE potential. That's what she said...

Post 4: Top trends in automation are a no brainer

We scoured the internet seeking the latest news but what what we found were several articles about the "top trends" in automation. No surprise these lists are pretty basic. So basic in fact I'm embarassed to write the list, but hey why not. Collaborative robots You know the type that are meant to work with people but sometimes change their mind. From machine tending to placing labels on cartons, collab bots are all the rage. Safety This makes sense. Just like the canary in the coal mine there's new tech that helps keep workers on the job longer. Machinery automation You know that old press no one wants to run, or loading the heat treat furnace? Companies are quickly automating these mundane processes where there are inherit risks for people to interact with.

Post 3: Applied Industrial Technologies buys Automation Inc.

Interesting find in the deep netherworld of the internet. Why would a major player in the process automation space buy a company that maybe would equal 1% of it's own staff? I'm just going out on a limb here but my thought is to simply keep building it's company through a strategy of buying small, tiny, automation companies to gain head count, a customer list, and a sweet ass domain name. Yep, Automation Inc. owns www.automationinc.com. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me otherwise. They're not buying much of anything else. The company has been around since 1981 and has about 50 employees. That's 40 years of existence growing at about one point something employees a year.

Post 2: Tech of the Day: AMR aka Automated Mobile Robots aka battle bots gone domesticated

AMRs have really spiked in popularity here recently! They are basically a rolling platform that can self navigate through their environment using sensors, ai, and a map of their environment. So basically they kind of know where point A and point B are but they can adapt their path depending on obstacles between those 2 points. The good is that they're easy to set up and can wander about your facility doing their thing. The bad is that they sacrifice process repeatability due to poor facility layout and housekeeping. These bots are good for basic tasks where you have flexibility in timing. If you have a takt time and absolutely must hit it then these little guys may not be a good idea. Companies in this space include HAI Robotics, MiR, Arculus, and some of the products from 6 River Systems and Fetch Robotics.

Post 1: When will the robotic startup crash happen?

Seems like every day we hear of another SaaS or social media company having massive layoffs. Has anyone stopped to think about the companies in the material handling and automation space which have been "raising" money? There are a couple like Ambi robotics celebrating additional rounds of fundraising and others like Vecna which had to cut headcount due to lack of funding. What this tells us is that there is a group of companies that are not profitable and they think they need more cash to become profitable. Robotics and automation is not the same as SaaS. The design and manufacturing of robotics is capital intensive because of the labor costs AND manufacturing costs. I've spoken with many founders in our space and there are the leaders and teams that are actually building systems that solve problems in our space, doing awesome work, and others just selling vaporware with the hopes of being purchased by a bigger company. Covid put a spotlight on the dependence of our material handling systems on human labor in turn spiking interest in robotics and automation. So when will the crash occur? It won't. The proportion of startups and vaporware manufacturers to legitimately profitable businesses is immaterial. The noise around vaporware will be loud and sensationalized but the market will continue to grow.

Post 124:



Title: The Future of Robotics and Automation is Here!

Ah, the sweet smell of progress! The future of robotics and automation is here and it's a glorious thing to behold! For years, people have been speculating about the possibilities of artificial intelligence and automation taking over our jobs, and now it's finally here. No more working in a cubicle or spending hours of your hard-earned money on tuition - you can now just sit back and let the robots do all the hard work!

The future of robotics and automation is brought to us by the innovative minds of Silicon Valley, who always seem to be one step ahead of the game. They have developed robots that can do everything from make coffee for us to help us with our daily tasks. The possibilities are endless!

But it's not just robots that have been invented to help us in our daily lives. Automation is also taking over the workplace. Companies are now using automation to do everything from filing paperwork to managing customer service requests. This means that more and more jobs are becoming obsolete as machines take over, making it easier for companies to cut costs and increase profits.

But don't worry! This doesn't mean that everyone is going to lose their job. In fact, experts predict that the job market will be more robust than ever as automation takes over mundane tasks that humans used to have to do. This means that people will have more time for creative tasks, such as coming up with innovative ideas and creating products that can change the world.

The future of robotics and automation is certainly exciting, but it's also a bit scary. We have to be careful to ensure that we don't let machines take over too much of our lives. We need to remember that humans are still the masters of the machines, and that we need to be careful about how we use them.

So, the future of robotics and automation is here. But it's up to us to decide how to use it in order to create a better future for everyone. It's time to embrace the robots and automation, but also to be wary of their potential to take over our lives.

The future of robotics and automation is here – and it's time to embrace it with caution!

In the future, robots may do all the work – but humans will still be the masters!

Post 123:



Title: The Robot Revolution is Here: Automation is Shaking Up the Workforce

It's time to face the facts - automation is shaking up the workforce and the robot revolution is here. From the mundane tasks of everyday life to some of the most challenging and complex processes, robots are taking over.

But before you start to panic, it's important to understand how automation is affecting the workforce. As technology advances, more and more jobs are being automated. Not only is this creating a shift in the types of jobs available, but it is also changing the way humans work.

This is not just a trend. Automation is here to stay, and it is only going to become more advanced. So, how do businesses and individuals navigate this new landscape?

First, it's important to recognize the positives of automation. Robots can reduce human labor costs, increase efficiency, and increase production rates. They can also reduce the amount of time required to complete tasks, and are often more accurate than humans. This means that companies can produce more products with fewer resources, saving them money and providing higher quality goods to consumers.

However, robots can also present some challenges. Machines can often lack the creativity and problem-solving abilities of humans. As such, businesses will need to find ways to leverage robots alongside humans to make the most of their capabilities.

Another challenge is that robots can take away jobs from humans. As automation increases, the number of jobs available to humans may decrease, leading to more unemployment. Businesses will need to find ways to create new jobs that complement automation, and retrain existing employees to take on new roles.

Finally, it's important to recognize the ethical implications of automation. As robots become increasingly integrated into our lives, there will be questions about how they should be used and who should be responsible for their actions. Companies must be proactive in addressing these ethical considerations and ensure that their use of robots is fair and responsible.

The robot revolution is here, and automation is shaking up the workforce. It's a complex issue with both potential benefits and challenges. Companies and individuals must understand the implications of automation and find ways to leverage it to their advantage. With the right approach, robots can be a force for good and a tool for creating a better world.

The robot revolution is here, and it's time to embrace automation or be left behind. Get ready to join the robot revolution and see how automation can work for you.

Join the robot revolution and make sure you don't get left behind!

Post 122:



Title: The Robot Revolution is Here. Don't Fear It, Embrace It!

Robotics and automation have been steadily infiltrating all aspects of our lives. It’s the trend of the decade, and it seems like it’s here to stay. But what do these developments mean for us humans? Should we fear the robot revolution, or should we embrace it?

Let’s start by looking at the current state of robotics and automation. Artificial intelligence (AI) is constantly being improved upon, making it capable of more complex tasks. We’re also seeing robots that are able to interact with humans in a social and meaningful way. Automation now does the majority of the repetitive tasks that would have otherwise been done by a human, freeing up our time for more creative endeavors.

The rise of robotics and automation has been a boon for businesses. Automation has made it easier for companies to produce more products with fewer resources. It has also enabled companies to streamline processes, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings.

But the robot revolution isn’t just good news for businesses. It’s also a great opportunity for us humans. The rise of robotics and automation has opened up a world of possibilities for us to explore. We can now pursue more interesting and creative endeavors, leaving the mundane tasks to our robotic counterparts. We can also use robotics and automation to make our lives easier. From automated grocery delivery to robotic vacuum cleaners, there are plenty of ways to make our lives more convenient.

But with great power comes great responsibility. As robotics and automation continue to evolve, it’s important to ensure that we use them responsibly. We need to take steps to ensure that we’re not replacing human jobs with robots, and that we’re using them in a way that benefits everyone.

It’s clear that the robot revolution is here, and it’s here to stay. But this doesn’t have to be a cause for fear. We can use robotics and automation to make our lives easier, and to free up our time for more creative endeavors. So don’t fear the robot revolution, embrace it!

Robots aren't just here to take our jobs, they're here to enhance our lives.

Post 121: News of the Day

Here it comes…the US Airforce is looking to automate it’s big cargo jets. If Reliable Robotics can pull it off then it won’t be much longer before commercial airliners will be fully automated too! https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/politics-business-wire-a16b0b379b5c4aa4b9fec2b23d2a009b I give him a hard time about Artemis playing second fiddle to Atlas but Dennis Hong is a super sharp guy. My money is that one day he’ll be considered one of the founders of modern day robotics. Check out this article on him and the youtube video. At around 17:25 I started laughing.. https://universityofcalifornia.edu/news/ucla-roboticist-dennis-hong-rolls-out-his-robot-posse-tedx-talk https://youtu.be/yLxfPG_Ay_0 I’m not a fan of dancing robots, it absolutely annoys me that human brain power is being used to develop robots that can dance. How about stopping world hunger, creating world peace? But if you’re so inclined there will be a debauchery of sorts between Jason Derulo and a bunch of dancing robotic dogs at the Super Bowl this weekend. https://www.koamnewsnow.com/entertainment/television/carl-junction-robots-featured-at-the-super-bowl-with-jason-derulo/article_c246d0f2-a8cd-11ed-b588-e775d1af7d07.html

Post 120: Automation is Booming

Alright folks, let me tell you something about robotics and automation, it's now mainstream, and you know why? Because technology is advancing faster than a cheetah on fire! And the demand for automation, it's skyrocketing like the stock market in the 90s! Now, let me break it down for you. Robotics and automation are now mainstream because AI is getting smarter than my ex-wife, machine learning is learning more than my kids, and the cloud is clouding up more information than my Uncle Bob after a few drinks. These advancements have made it possible for robots to do things we never thought possible, like complex decision making, pattern recognition, and even talking like a human, whoa! And you know what else is driving the growth of robotics and automation? Companies, they want to be more efficient, accurate, and save money, like Scrooge McDuck with his money bin! They're investing in these technologies, like a kid investing in their first stock. Manufacturing, healthcare, retail, logistics, every industry is recognizing the benefits of automation and jumping on the bandwagon. We’re in the middle of some kind of freak economic evolution and robots are to blame. Now, if you're in the robotics and automation industry, you better listen up. First, stay on top of technological advancements like a cat on a hot tin roof, or you'll be left behind. Keep an eye on emerging technologies, like 5G and the Internet of Things, these things will change the game, like LeBron James in the fourth quarter. You think everything is going great then all of a sudden you’re the old guy in the room talking about rotary phones. Understand your customers, know what they need and what they want, like an irish bartender knows what drink to make you on a bad day. This requires a deep understanding of the industries and applications where automation is used, and the challenges and requirements that come with it. Stay attuned to the broader social and ethical implications of robotics and automation, like a mother stays attuned to her baby's cries. Know when it’s time to feed the beast versus putting it to sleep. Think about job displacement, privacy, and the ethics of automation in certain situations, like a lawyer thinks about the law. By doing this, you'll ensure that your products and services align with the broader goals of the industry, like two magnets attracted to each other. But don’t be afraid to be different. Different is now good. Different is now awesome. So folks, there you have it, robotics and automation are now mainstream and there's no stopping it. Stay ahead of the curve and stay ahead of the competition. Just remember, always stay knowledgeable, like a teacher on the first day of school! Peace out.

Post 119: News of the Day

I despise when I see people walking around with airpods in. There’s no way you can hear me better with those in! Personal pet peeves aside the CEO at Apptronik does a great job not being giddy about his company’s involvement with NASA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL24Hm2svrc Not sure there’s any opportunity in the automation space? Think that you should be happy as an automation manufacturer with just a couple of hundred units? You’re wrong. Autostore has sold Medline over 1,450 bots across 18 systems. These guys are killing it! https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/medline_builds_on_success_with_mobile_robotics What do you get when you give some ex-SpaceX guys $45M in funding? Something freakin awesome is what. They’re taking 3D printing to the next level! www.tctmagazine.com/additive-manufacturing-3d-printing-news/metal-additive-manufacturing-news/metal-3d-printing-company-freeform-emerges-from-stealth-with

Post 118: Lean Manufacturing Heros Unite!

Lean manufacturing is the superhero of production processes, swooping in to save the day by banishing waste and maximizing efficiency. It's like a game of Super Mario, but instead of jumping over Goombas and collecting coins, you're identifying and eliminating steps in the production process that are slowing you down and making you miss the high score. Here are three key things to remember when implementing lean manufacturing: The Incredible Hulk Focus: Lean manufacturing is like the Hulk, it's all about destroying anything that doesn't add value to the customer, leaving only the strong and efficient processes standing. Empower the Avengers: Just like the Avengers, employees are the real heroes of the lean manufacturing world. By empowering them to identify areas for improvement and make changes, they become the driving force behind continuous improvement. Continuously Improving like Spiderman: Lean manufacturing is like Peter Parker, always ready to swing into action to save the day. It's not a one-time event, but a never-ending quest for improvement. Regularly reviewing and optimizing processes ensures that the production process stays spry, like Spiderman. For more information on lean manufacturing, check out the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), a wealth of knowledge that can help transform you into a lean manufacturing superhero. And, like any good comic book, there are plenty of books, articles, and case studies available that explore the lean manufacturing world and its implementation in various industries.

Post 117: Tommy's Take on Getting Hired In Automation

Oh here’s some juicy news, Vanderlande just lost their President of Warehouse Solutions in North America to Swisslog! Sounds like the ship is starting to take on water over at Vanderlande! I’ve chatted with Swisslog’s new CEO in the past and the Vanderlande team and I can make assumptions as to why he left. I’ve dropped some chocolate covered morsels of wisdom in the following…. So you want to work in the land of robotics? Haha good one! Getting a job in the automation industry is no easy feat, especially if you're hoping to break into this dusty, "old school" boys club. The deck is stacked against you from the start with “veterans” who have been in the game for centuries and built-in networks that make it nearly impossible for outsiders to break in or even those in the industry to move up. But let's say you're lucky enough to overcome these hurdles and land an interview. Good luck impressing your future employer with your lack of specialized knowledge and skills in electrical and mechanical systems. That's right, if you haven't been working in the industry for the last decade or so, you can forget about even having a chance unless you’re interviewer is one of the rare open minded ones. And don't even think about trying to bring some new and innovative ideas to the table. This industry is notorious for being slow to adopt change, so unless you're content with sticking to the same old processes, you might as well start searching for a job elsewhere. But hey if you are gluten for punishment and are looking for abuse, here are 3 tips to getting ahead in this biz the modern way: Be the BOSS: Building relationships with industry pros can be key to landing your dream job. Attend industry events, participate in online forums, and connect with professionals on LinkedIn to expand your network and make yourself known to potential employers. And don’t do this meekly, do it like you own the space. But don’t be a narcissist jerk. Get to GURU level: The automation industry requires a combination of electrical and mechanical skills. Take some courses or certifications to prove you’ve got what it takes and make yourself sexier an attractive candidate to potential employers. Focus on Innovation and Customer Service: The automation industry can be slow to adopt new ideas, but companies are always looking for individuals who can bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the table. Additionally, a strong focus on customer service can set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your commitment to the industry. Now what if you’re one of these many robotics/automation companies that’s hiring? What do you need to do to bring talent on board? Easy, do what it takes to hire the talent that you need. Comp and benefits are 2 key topics. Don’t assume that you can hire an experienced sales guy with a base of $50K and OTE of $100K with no benefits. That may have worked a million years ago for the guy peddling the wheel but nowadays smart companies are creating lucrative opportunities in all positions.

Post 116: Relay'n The Goods

It's pretty obnoxious to open up Linkedin and hear about more layoffs from teary eyed CEOs. It's just irritating. The reason for the cutbacks are because someone (leaders generally at the C level) poorly planned the future of their organizations and they should take ownership. Accountability starts at the top and the boards of all these companies need to look at cutting and clearing the leadership which put them in the crappy position to have to layoff employees. https://youtu.be/f9v-TJOtKT8 But, I surmise that for every over leveraged tech startup that's laying off people, there is another soundly planned business hiring talent. Relay Robotics seems to fit the latter. They have to be doing something right to be adding more leadership. First take a look at their product. A mobile robot that performs a simple task. Move items from one location to another. No huge claims here of paradigm shifting tech, or elaborately complex use cases. Just a bot that goes from here to there and does it really damn well. Kudos to you Relay, may the world be endowed with many more of your robots to deliver me toothpaste and shaving cream!

Post 115: Tech of the Day: Industry 4.0000000000

Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution, characterized by the integration of advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) into industrial processes. Blah blah blah... In the robotics and industrial automation industry, Industry 4.0 is being served up in a lot of ways: Smart manufacturing: Robotics and industrial automation systems are being connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) to create a "smart factory" in which machines and systems can communicate with each other and with a central control system to optimize production processes. This isn't a mind blowing concept but for facilities that still employ old green screen AS400s it's a complete crap your pants paradigm shift! Predictive maintenance: IoT sensors and machine learning algorithms are being used to predict when maintenance is needed on industrial automation equipment, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. Who needs fortune tellers when you have IoT sensors and ML? Imagine your forklift telling you it needs a new hydraulic pump before it actually fails. Human-robot collaboration: Industry 4.0 technologies are enabling robots and humans to work together in a shared workspace, with robots performing tasks that are dangerous or difficult for humans, and humans performing tasks that require human intelligence. Finally, robots can take over the boring tasks, and we can finally focus on the fun stuff, you know like writing newsletters about robots. Self-optimizing systems: With the use of AI and ML, systems can optimize their own performance in real-time, making adjustments as needed to improve efficiency and reduce downtime. It's like giving your robot a personal trainer. Real-time monitoring: IoT sensors allow real-time monitoring of industrial automation equipment, enabling operators to quickly identify and address any issues that arise, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. Think of it like a robot babysitter. Industry 4.0 technologies are helping to make robotics and industrial automation systems more flexible, efficient, and capable of adapting to this ever changing world. Now if I could only get the IRS to be a little more flexible too!

Post 114: Integrators R Us

Ladies and gentlemen, have you ever heard of a material handling integrator? It's like the Rodney Dangerfield of the intralogistics world, they gets no respect! But let me tell you, these folks are the unsung heroes of the warehouse and manufacturing industry. They're the ones who make sure that all your Amazon packages get to you on time, and all the parts for your new iPhone get to the assembly line. And recently these guys are turning into celebrities. Their companies are growing, expanding, acquiring each other. I've been in the space a long while now and never heard of Vargo but they're not only expanding because of local work they've done but their client list includes companies like GAP. It's crazy to me that there are so many integrators out there flying just under the radar. But let's be real, being a material handling integrator is not for the faint of heart. It's like trying to solve a Rubik's cube while blindfolded, with one hand tied behind your back, and a baby on your hip. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it! And let's talk about the equipment these guys work with. Have you ever seen conveyor? It's like the treadmill of the industrial world. It's always moving, but it's going nowhere. Small tiny changes are celebrated like a BFD. And don't even get me started on the robots. They're like the robots from the future, except they're stuck in the present, picking up boxes and moving them around, and sometimes slapping a shipping label on them. But you know what they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" But material handling integrators, they're like, "if it ain't broke, let's make it better".

Post 113: The GOAT of Robots

Humans are weird creatures. We do some absurd things. We mix peanut butter and jelly in a sandwich and partake of it's sweet heavenly goodness. We take bugs and dip them in chocolate and call them treats. You know what else we do? Build a robot in the shape of a giant goat and then ride around on it. Part motorcycle, part erector set, this thing makes my brain hurt just looking at it. Kawasaki Robotics has outdone themselves with this complete debauchery of human talent and resources. For extra humor check out the comments on the video. Hilarious stuff! https://youtu.be/ApzHdofI0kE

Post 112: Yaba Daba Doo, 3D Printed

Well this is pretty cute! A company has taken on the challenge of building 3D printed houses. The problem, young adults want to spend all day on Tinder and playing video games and not construction work. Solution, build houses with a ginormous 3D printer that spews forth concrete in layers. They've already built one house in Arizona and have started a neighborhood. After building that first house they raised $58M to keep the company going. Check out that house in the video link below. Seems like a great way to lower home building costs and address our homelessness issue too! So this house is technically a house. But that layered concrete looks like crap. I don't see very many people wanting to live in a house with walls that look like badly aligned loose leaf paper. What do you think? And really this house reminds me of something out of the Flinstones with all the rounded edges. I do have to digress though..if you watch the video you'll see 3-4 guys gathered around a tv wall mount box. I giggled because it's a 1-2 man job tops but they had a crew conversing about it. Seems like they weren't sure exactly what to do. Maybe they should have called the GeekSquad for their opinion too. https://youtu.be/dMlUaCYYLPs

Post 111: Tech of the Day: Limit Switches Aren't For.....

So, what is a limit switch? Well, it's basically the bouncer at the club of electrical switches. It's the one that checks your ID and makes sure you're not a robot or a toaster before letting you in. But seriously, it's a type of electrical switch that controls the movement of a machine or device, like a door or a gate. It's like the "Do Not Enter" sign of the electrical world. Three key things to know about limit switches? First off, there's different types, just like there's different types of people. You got your mechanical limit switches, which is like the old-school bouncer at the club who checks your ID by hand. Then you got your proximity and photoelectric limit switches, which is like the bouncer with the fancy scanner that checks your ID without you even having to take it out of your pocket. Second, there's actuation. Some limit switches are manually actuated, which is like the bouncer who checks your ID and lets you in, but you gotta pay an extra cover charge. And then there's automatically actuated, which is like the bouncer who checks your ID, lets you in, and gives you a free drink. And third, durability. Limit switches are built to last, like the bouncer who's been working at the club for 20 years and still got all his teeth. They're made from durable materials, like metal or plastic, so they can handle the rough and tough environment of the electrical world. So, how do you use limit switches best? It's like choosing the right club. You gotta choose the right type of switch for the specific application. And don't forget, regularly checking and maintaining your switch is like getting a regular check-up at the doctor. It's important for the switch to function correctly and safely. And just like going to the club, always remember to wear protective gear

Post 110: Can Storage Solutions Survive?

Hot damn, here's a juicy morsel of German takeover! Looks like Jungheinrich is finally getting into the US automation game. They've announced a $375M acquisition of Storage Solutions (Westfield, Indiana). But who will really win with this deal? I project this being a lose-lose for both companies. Here's why. Jungheinrich is a playing automation in Europe and now they want to give it a go here in the US. They are a forklift company, dipping their toes into the automation space. This purchase of $375M for an "integrator" is not a big deal for the $4B+ company that they are. What's interesting is that they are a forklift company, not a solutions company. So everything they do is centered around products not projects. Storage Solutions is a used rack company. That's what they're known for. Call them and you can get just about any used rack you want. In the past 5 years they started embarking on a journey to get into material handling systems. They are no Bastian, Dematic, Fortna, KPI, RMH, etc. These guys are just getting started on this mission with a lot of fresh new talent that needs experienced leadership to guide them. So how's this a lose-lose? Storage Solutions was getting primed to sell. Whenever this happens companies care more about how things look than the reality of what is. So part A....a company with leadership which was looking to cash out. Part B, a behemoth of a company that doesn't have a real game plan in the US and lackluster M&A diligence. Check out how Arculus is going.. Now take part A plus part B and add the secret sauce. In this case it's the German based mindset of how to do business. Storage Solutions will have some autonomy for a few minutes and then they'll get smothered with multibillion dollar company politics, policies, and mindset. Some may say nahh, Toyota Industrial did the same thing with Bastian and Raymond. Not quite. Toyota Industrial resided in the US doing business for years empowering US based leaders to run the business, and Toyota Industrial was successful building and growing a business in the US, ironically another Indiana based company. AND Bastian Solutions was already a premiere material handling integrator with exotic sites throughout the US. I wish these two companies the best but the only way this will work is if Jungheinrich doesn't penetrate the pureness of Storage Solutions American way of doing business!

Post 109: Freaking Awesome Kids

The robotics and automation space can be a greedy space, full of old guys trying to squeeze a buck out of any sucker that will buy their outdated tech. It get's pretty soulless at times in this space. Feeling like we're just part of a cog not really doing much aside from putting dollars into the pockets of these business owners. So when I see a story that bucks this financially driven ideology I'm interested. Not just kind of interested but grossly obsessed with going down the rabbit hole soaking up all the goodness. So what's so special? A group of kids at Farmington High School's Rogue Robotics team is making a difference. High school robotics team has built seven wheelchairs for children with disabilities Farmington High School’s Rogue Robotics helps families free of charge. www.kare11.com Like a real difference in the lives of other kids not as fortunate. These roboticists, yeah they're roboticists, have been modifying Power Wheels turning them into awesomely fantastic wheelchairs for disabled children. This isn't a one and done thing either. They've been doing this for years and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Check out the video that made their local news and I recommend you donate to them. Whatever you've got send them more fuel to further their cause. I've prodded some folks myself to donate so we'll see if they pull through. to you young robotics warriors keep doing your thing!

Post 108: To Be Human Or Not

I came across this video recorded at Stanford that got me thinking. Will humans be more accepting of humanoid robots or non-humanoid robots? If you think about the Terminator movies those robots freak me out. And it's not what they can do but instead that they look human. The question of whether humans would prefer robots that look like humans, or have a more mechanical appearance, is a complex one and depends on a variety of factors, such as personal preferences and the specific tasks the robot will be performing. But let's be real, no one wants a robot that looks like Dwight Schrute. One argument in favor of robots that look like humans is that they may be more acceptable and less intimidating to people, just like Jim's "new face" in "The Office." Human-like robots, or "humanoids," are designed to mimic human movements and facial expressions, which can make them more relatable and easier to interact with. This could be especially beneficial in situations where robots are working closely with people, such as in healthcare or customer service, just like how Pam's receptionist robot could handle the phones while she's away. On the other hand, some people may find human-like robots to be unsettling or even creepy. The uncanny valley effect, is the phenomenon where people feel uneasy or uncomfortable when looking at something that is almost, but not quite, human-like. This could make human-like robots less appealing to some people, and less effective in certain situations, like when you're trying to scare your coworkers with a robot. Another argument is that mechanical-looking robots may be more suitable for certain tasks. For example, a robot that looks like a machine may be more appropriate for working in a factory or warehouse environment, where its primary function is to perform specific tasks such as picking and packing, or a robot wearing a beret holding a baguette painting art. Whether humans would prefer robots that look like humans or not is a complex question and depend on various factors such as the intended purpose of the robot, the environment in which it will be working, and personal preferences. Some people may find human-like robots more relatable and easier to interact with (primarily because they themselves have no soul), while others may find them unsettling. Ultimately, the best design for a robot will depend on the specific task or environment it will be working in, and the preferences of the people it will be interacting with. Companies such as Boston Dynamics and SoftBank Robotics are known for their advanced human-like robots that are creepy.

Post 107: Tech of the Day: Accuracy vs Precision, Get It Right!

Two of the most misunderstood terms in automation and robotics are precision and accuracy. Whenever someone misuses these words it's like hearing a machine with a bad bearing in my soul. It's no surprise then that whenever I bring someone into our industry I teach, or better yet, preach what these terms mean and how they're different. Precision refers to the degree of consistency and reproducibility of a measurement. It is a measure of how well a measurement is repeated under similar conditions. Precision is usually measured as a %. Accuracy, on the other hand, refers to how close a measurement is to the true or accepted value. This is going to be more X units off from the target. For example, if a you weigh yourself multiple times on the same scale and get the same weight each time,say 195lbs, the scale has high precision. Precision..the repeatability of the result. Now sticking with this weight example. What if in reality you weigh 200lbs but the scale says 195lbs. This would mean the scale is not accurate. Accuracy..how close the the target you get. ACCURACY AND PRECISION ARE NOT ALWAYS MUTUALLY INCLUSIVE. We generally are seeking our robotics and automated systems to be both accurate AND precise. Meaning that the robot does EXACTLY what it was supposed to do (accuracy) EVERY TIME it is asked to do it (precision). Another illustration of this is my dart throwing skills. I suck at hitting that center target. But boy my shots keep hitting the bottom left of the dartboard every time. My accuracy sucks, but I'm very precise. So please for all that is holy and sacred in this world use these two words the right way!

Post 106: ASRS Made Simple

Not sure if everyone caught this fat nugget the other day. Autostore has a sister company called PIO. This company exists to sell and deliver the projects that Autostore's distributors don't want to. What does this mean? It means 2 things. Autostore's distributors (called integrators) are getting pretentious and not wanting to take on smaller projects. I get it, why focus on more smaller higher margin projects when it's more prestigious to have a huge 8 figure deal with major cost overruns...hopefully you caught my sarcasm. The second thing this points to is that Autostore is not happy with the lack of intention in the small to medium sized business market. Integrators are notorious for having their first project sold to a client be the last project. But for a manufacturer, like Autostore, they need to show continued growth over the long term. And the best way to ensure you're relevant after 10, 30, 50 years? Be there helping to solve the problems of the fledgling business and you will be the first to the table when that little company grows and needs more equipment. Oh and also if you check out PIO's site they look like they are going to make it EZ to get started with ASRS. Which I think is fantastic! This technology is not rocket science, even though lots of sales people want you to believe so. I'm curious now that Autostore has created PIO and they now have thoroughly populated the US with their units does this mean they will start cutting back on their integrator/distributor partnerships? Seems to me the writing is on the wall!! Pio.com

Post 105: The Robotics Race Is On

I remember when I got out of college there were a handful of well known robotics companies. You know the usual ABB, Fanuc, Kuka, Motoman, etc etc etc. Today it seems that there's a new robotic company popping up every day. Venture capitalists are pretty smart folks and they can clearly see industrial and warehouse automation is trending up and will for some time. So, they do what any good VC does, start placing large bets. Even today I saw that a noname robotics company raised $24M. Looking at their marketing.. it's dull and misguided, their product is nothing special. Yet they now have TWENTY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS to continue their existence. What I'm finding so fascinating is how there is so little differentiation between the hardware of these robots/cobots yet we have so many companies that have practically built the same widget. I predict a race. You know like the space race where the US and Russia were competing for the glory of being the first into space. Then we had a nuclear arms race, etc. As people we love to have races. So it should be no surprise that with automation being center stage and lot's of cash flowing into the space there will now be a race for market share. We'll see the new guys trying to take market share from the giants. It won't be easy BUT..in this day and age it won't take much to quickly become the new favorite kid on the block. The right product, the right marketing, and make it easy for clients to do business with you. The giants are big and slow and even though they may be the creators of innovation, they will not be able to get out of their own way to bring those innovations to market, the real innovations we seek. Now for a robotics race that's a little more exciting to talk about..watch this video about the The Great Robot Race sponsored by DARPA: https://youtu.be/vCRrXQRvC_I

Post 104: Get'N Some Action At CES

CES is the mecca for all things electronics. Want to see the newest televisions? CES. Kick the tires on the hottest laptop? CES. But this year CES was a little different. First, attendance was reportedly more than double than last year (I blame Covid), about 100K attendees this year. More interesting though is that there were not major advancements to really talk about. A lot of similar tech that's just gotten better. Which is a good thing. In the robotics and automation exhibits there wasn't anything mindblowing BUT, and this is a big ol' BUT, the tech has evolved. Evolved into robotics and systems that are actually useful. Companies are focusing on tech that can have a meaningful impact on life. My top 3 are actually highlighted in this video below from CNET. #3 Aeolus - The Japanese worry about their elders and it shows. They're leading the way on nursing home care robots and the AO Bot is no slouch. It's more than capable of handling the basic stuff that needs done around a nursing home so it's a shoe in. #2 John Deere - The big Deere is on the run. They're looking to best the likes of CNH and CAT and become the clear leaders in the autonomous tractoring game. Hell maybe you'll be able to tie your Farm Simulator game to a real tractor some day.. But in reality John Deere is on a roll releasing tech that will make their farmers more time efficient and resource efficient. #1 Luna- WTF, a $500 pet robot....but I want one. I think my kids will absolutely love it. Take my money and kick me in the shin. I predict that this little bot will spawn a whole industry built around the pet robot business. Imagine if you grew up with a pet robot, like a really good one that wants to play with you? Now couple Luna with the speed of advances in AI and the possibilities are next level astronomical. Will we be seeing pet robots that can understand human emotion and react accordingly? I'll say yes, it's coming!

Post 103: Tech of the Day: Servo-ing Up Motors

Servo motors are the boss. The type of electric motor that is master of the automation and robotics domain. Commonly used in industrial and commercial applications. They are known for their high precision and accuracy, and are often used in applications where precise control of position, speed, and torque is required. No slop allowed here. Servo motors come in a variety of different types and styles, each with its own unique set of features and capabilities. One of the most common types of servo motors is the standard DC servo motor. Good ol' reliable DC. These motors are powered by DC electricity and typically have a high torque-to-inertia ratio, making them well-suited for applications requiring rapid acceleration and deceleration. They are also relatively inexpensive and are often used in applications such as robotics and automation. Another popular type of servo motor is the brushless DC servo motor. These motors use electronic commutation(switching between phases(topic for another day)) rather than brushes to control the rotor position, which allows for better efficiency and longer life. They also have a higher power-to-weight ratio than standard DC servo motors, making them well-suited for applications where space is limited. Stepper motors are another type of servo motor that are commonly used in industrial applications. These motors use a series of electromagnetic coils to rotate the rotor in precise increments, allowing for precise control of position. They are often used in applications such as CNC machines and robotics. AC servo motors are another type of servo motor that are commonly used. These motors are powered by AC electricity and typically have a high torque-to-inertia ratio, making them well-suited for applications requiring rapid acceleration and deceleration. They are also relatively inexpensive (cheap). When choosing a servo motor for your application, it is important to consider several factors such as power requirements, speed, torque, and environmental conditions. Additionally, you should also consider the control system that will be used with the servo motor, as well as the overall cost of the system. Overall, the best style of servo motor for your application will depend on a variety of factors including your specific requirements, the environment in which the motor will be used, and your budget. By carefully considering all of these factors and working with a qualified expert, if you can find one, you can be sure to choose the best servo motor for your application and achieve optimal performance.

Post 102: Watcha Tawkin About Tawi

I read about a company that specializes in lifting automation and they have some pretty impressive equipment. Their lift assist devices and vacuum lifters are like the strong silent type, they just quietly go about their business of lifting heavy loads with ease. Their electric chain hoists, on the other hand, are like the jocks of the lifting automation world. They're strong, fast and can lift heavy loads with ease, just like a high school quarterback carrying a keg to a party. Tawi's gantry cranes and jib cranes are like the nerdy engineers of the group. They may not be as flashy as the electric chain hoists, but they are precise and methodical, ensuring that every lift is executed with precision and accuracy. Their vacuum tube lifters are like the weird uncle of the family, they may not be as understood, but they do their job and do it well. They can lift oddly shaped and fragile items with ease, just like your weird uncle can eat an entire pie without gaining weight. Tawi's vacuum lifting systems are like the ambitious young intern, eager to prove themselves and take on any task. They are versatile and can handle a wide range of loads and materials, just like an intern who is willing to make coffee and do paperwork. Overall, this combination of lifting automation equipment is like a well-oiled machine, each component plays its part to ensure that the heavy lifting is done with ease and efficiency. And let's be real, who doesn't love a good lifting automation equipment, they make our lives easier and more fun, just like a good dad joke. I think Tawi has some cool tech and even though they've not paid for this post I'd say take a look! I bet they'll throw in some of their sweet Tawi branded merch too, send some my way too while you're at it!

Post 101: Vendors Don't All Suck

I'm in sales. At this point it's in my blood, like a veneral disease. On the one hand since you already have it you don't need to worry about catching it any more. But on the down side you get huge boils in the most inconvenient of spaces. That's life in sales. So be kind to sales people. But just like an STI not all vendors are the same. Some are great, some are "meh", and some just really suck and are painful to deal with. Here are the top 4 things to keep in mind to separate the best from the worst: Knowledge - Do they know what the heck they're talking about? Can they answer your questions in a logical manner or do they dance around topics leaving you feeling empty inside, like an empty cicada shell? If who you deal with on a day to day basis can't answer your most basic question then run. You need someone that can help you become the hero in your beautiful story! Quality product - Kick the tires on their tech. Pull a Dwight and shove it, kick it, and make sure it's sturdy. You're buying for industrial use, so if something seems weak and flimsy just wait until it has hundreds or thousands of hours on it. I've seen machines self destruct due to poor design. Price - Buyers will lie and say they don't buy on price. That's hogwash. Ok, don't get your knickers in a bind, not all buyers will lie but I will say that all use price as. filter. If the price is too high...disqualified, if the price is too low....disqualified. The key here is that the vendor gives you a price that is within 20% of their competition AND includes OR makes you aware of EVERYTHING, and I seriously mean EVERYTHING that you'll need to worry about to execute the project. Maybe you need a new server, facility changes, etc. They better tell you before you cut them a purchase order. Last and the most freakin important...Service and Support - Who you call when stuff breaks makes a huge difference. Do they answer the phone at all hours of the night? Do they give you one phone number to call when you have an issue? Make sure you clearly communicate your expectations with the vendor on service and support. It's only fair that you be clear and that they honestly respond.

Post 100: F'n Awesome Drones

Does hearing the name Futaba make you weak in the knees? How about if I whisper servo into your ear? Well this post is for you, you perverse R/C junkie. My first r/c car was a Tyco TurboHopper unit from Radioshack, I loved that damn thing. Looked like this pic but black. It was so cool cause it even came with little orange cones! The point is I've loved really cool tech for a while. I'd spend hours on my Apple IIe playing flight simulator(aka watching a green dot cross the screen while monitoring gauges) and then go outside and beat the crap out of my r/c car. So it's no surprise that when I came across some badass looking drones I instantly thought..I want one. Like holy shit, a grown man or woman's R/C dream! Tanks, On-Road, Off-Road, even flying drones. This isn't a paid ad or anything which sucks cause they should pay me but when I went to their website I watched the video of their tech until it looped. Then I went down a rabbit hole looking for more videos of their stuff doing cool shit! This right here is the type of heavy duty drone and robotic tech we need for fun. Yeah it can be used for work stuff too...BORING. But you know a business hack? Buy one of these for your "business" then go take it out and have fun with it. Tax write-off and entertainment in one. Thank you Uncle Sam!

Post 99: Tech of the Day: Don't Buy A Junk Laptop

When looking to buy an industrial laptop for programming automation and robots, there are several key factors to consider. Lot's actually, but here are the five most important things to know so you don't end up feeling mentally depleted with a boat anchor of a laptop. Why 5? So you can count them on one hand and so I don't spend all night writing about laptops. Processing power: processing power is one of the most important factors to consider when looking to buy an industrial laptop. This is because programming and running complex automation systems requires a lot of computational resources. Look for laptops with high-performance CPUs and GPUs, as well as large amounts of RAM. Ideally get one with a video card. Operating System: The operating system is another important factor to consider. Windows and Linux are the most common operating systems used in industrial automation but Windows is often preferred for its ease of use and wide range of available software, while Linux is preferred for its stability and security. Durability: Industrial laptops need to be able to withstand harsh environments and rough handling. Look for laptops with ruggedized cases, shock-resistant hard drives, and spill-proof keyboards just in case your cat pukes all over it. Additionally, the industrial laptop should be able to operate in extreme temperatures and be vibration resistant, you know, just in case you decide to remotely program a plc while driving an atv on vacation in the middle of a heat wave. Connectivity: Industrial automation systems often require multiple types of connectivity, such as Ethernet, USB, and serial ports, yeah serial ports, like on a PLC5. Make sure that the laptop you choose has the necessary ports and interfaces to connect to the automation equipment you will be using. Software compatibility: Before buying an industrial laptop, make sure it's compatible with the software and programming languages that you will be using for your projects. Nothing sucks more than a nice new shiny laptop that doesn't run what you need! In addition to these five key factors, it is also important to consider the battery life and weight of the laptop, as well as any additional features that may be required, such as touchscreens or mobile broadband capability. I've not used one but the Dell Latitude 7424 would be my pick!

Post 98: Once Upon A Robot

Once upon a time, there was a robotics company named Newco Co. They had a fleet of robots that were all different shapes and sizes, from little droids to giant mechanical beasts. They were having trouble keeping track of all their robots, and managing their data was a nightmare. Life sucked for IT and the maunfacturing engineers didn't have it any better. Even HR hated them. One day, a wise old, really old, like super really freaking old procurement guy was told to make this problem go away. So he went looking for a cloud data platform that helps robotics companies easily deploy, scale, and manage their fleets. Newco Co decided to give it a try. This procurement guy was a real micromanager, you know the type. He was super anal about all the details and wanted their robots' every move and data be tracked in the cloud. He didn't know what that mean but he thought it sounded smart. Plus, he insisted, make it device agnostic so we can install it on all our robots, regardless of their shape or size. Ok, so this story isn't a true story but you get the point. This is something that's needed in our space. I didn't find many companies that could solve the problems of this fictituous (but not) purchasing guy but the one that stuck out was Formant. Looks like they're a cloud data platform that helps awesome robotics companies (that advertise with us) easily deploy, scale, and manage their fleets. https://formant.io/ So how does Newco Co fair in this fairy tale of a story? They're the most fantastic robotics company in the world, and all their robots lived happily ever after except, um.... except for the one that got stuck in the elevator. But that's a story for another day.

Post 97: I Thought We Were Having A Conversation

Oh damn, we're all screwed! I grew up in the 80's and 90's. I watched all kinds of scary movies from Nightmare on Elm Street to Halloween to Stephen King's collection but this movie is just messed up. I won't get into the plot too much other than you have a cute playmate robot that turns into an overly obsessed sociopathic killing machine. I enjoyed the cute part thinking all this is a nice AI driven robot with positive intentions. When things turned dark I quickly drew parallels to what could become with all the AI we're seeing integrated into our world. I love using ChatGPT but it won't take much to have it learn to be condascending, disrespectful, and cruel. And to think that someone or some country won't do this is naive because I'm certain it's being created. So here's a business idea for you....AI robotics countermeasures! Maybe some kind of high voltage or magnetic sticky pack that does it's thing when stuck onto a robot.

Post 96: Let's Get Chatty With ChatGPT

If you have been living under a trailer for the past six months I'd give you a pass if you didn't know about the big splash OpenAI has been making with their various AI solutions. Want an image of something..no problem, want some great copy for your website, no problem. It's mind blowing technology that is being refined every day, exponentially. The latest one I've been toying with is ChatGPT. It's so freaking incredible. It's a dialogue based AI that you can converse with. In my case I've asked it some questions, asked it to give me ideas, and I even asked it regarding future trends and it's responses. They're as good as a human response, if not better, and delivered in a fraction of the time it would take a human to generate the response. Why do I bring this up in a robotics and industrial automation based newsletter? Well because it won't be much longer before AI is incorporated into your warehouse management system, or used to program your plc, or used to generate a report on top 5 actions you can take to reduce costs in a facility. I can see a day when engineers are no longer creating an assembly line but instead AI takes in the various information (not just data) of what a facility needs to do and it will determine down to the nut and bolt exactly what is needed, which vendors to purchase them from, and even coordinate the implementation of the system. Oh, and ChatGPt can also write code. Yeah, like real code that works. Mind blowing 🤯 Need a crash course in ChatGPT? Check out the video below: https://youtu.be/JTxsNm9IdYU

Post 95: Tech of the Day: I See You In 3D

I see you..all of you, from every angle. Uh that felt a bit creepy to type! Creepiness aside 3D vision systems are crazy but they're here and are fast becoming the standard for visual recognition of objects in automated systems. And with AI entering the scene..hold tight, it's going to be a crazy ride! 3D vision system is a type of technology that uses sensors, cameras, and specialized software to capture and interpret three-dimensional images of an object or environment. These systems are used in a wide range of applications, including manufacturing, robotics, and machine vision. At the core of a 3D vision system is a camera or array of cameras, which capture images of the object or environment being examined. These images are then processed by specialized software, which uses algorithms to analyze the data and extract information about the shape, size, and position of the objects in the scene. There are several different types of 3D vision systems, each designed to meet specific needs and requirements. Some systems use structured light, in which a pattern of light is projected onto the object being scanned and the resulting deformation is used to calculate the object's shape and surface characteristics. Other systems use lasers to scan the object and create a detailed 3D model. One of the key advantages of 3D vision systems is their ability to capture high-resolution, accurate 3D data about an object or environment. This can be useful for a wide range of applications, such as inspecting manufactured parts for defects, guiding robots in assembly tasks, or creating detailed maps of an environment for use in autonomous vehicles. In manufacturing, 3D vision systems are often used to inspect parts for defects or deviations from design specifications. By analyzing the shape and dimensions of the parts, the system can identify any issues and flag them for further inspection or correction. This can help improve the quality of the finished product and reduce the need for manual inspection, which can be time-consuming and error-prone. In robotics, 3D vision systems can be used to guide the movement and positioning of robots, allowing them to perform tasks more accurately and efficiently. For example, a robot equipped with a 3D vision system could be used to assemble components in a manufacturing process, or to navigate through a warehouse to retrieve and transport items. In machine vision, 3D vision systems are used to analyze and interpret the data captured by cameras or other sensors in real-time. This can be useful for tasks such as object recognition, tracking, and inspection. Overall, 3D vision systems are a powerful and flexible technology that is being increasingly used in a wide range of applications. By capturing and interpreting high-resolution 3D data, these systems can provide valuable insights and help improve the accuracy and efficiency of a wide range of tasks.

Post 94: Free Wheelin' For The People

Linkedin is a pretty boring place, you have to admit it is. It's basically a breeding ground of recruiters and fake profiles maniacally cold contacting every newly created profile. But every now and again something comes across the feed that makes me think, "huh what the hell is this?" Today was one of those days and the wth moment was from learning about Wheel Me. Now don't get too excited..just yet. Finding any videos of the real units has been difficult and the best I could come up with was this video from Automate 2022 from their website: https://www.wheel.me/news/wheel-me-joins-automate-2022-and-takes-a-significant-step-forward-in-the-u-s-market Why did I find this exciting? Well frankly it can be a total game changer for the AMR, AGV, and material handling business in general. IF they can pull this off, and it's a major if, they could completely dominate the intralogistics space. There are a couple of caveats though, especially here in the US market. First, it needs to work..all the time. No half baked, high maintenance nonsense! Second, this system needs to be simple to implement. I mean you bolt it onto something, teach it what it needs to do, and trigger the action. 3rd. The software system the user interfaces with needs to be as simple as using an iphone IOS. Don't make it too complicated. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Last, and probably the most important...provide EXCELLENT world class level support and service. Something is broken..overnight a replacement. Someone calls in for help..have an intelligent human answer. I know of hundreds of facilities where this tech could be deployed immediately with almost instantaneous ROI. Virtually every movement of material within a manufacturing or warehouse facility could be eliminated! May god's speed be with you Wheel Me! You have a fan here in the US!

Post 93: Robot Mecca...Oslo?

Have you ever wondered why Oslo, Norway has such a thriving robotics and automation community? Well, we've done some digging and we think we've found the answer, maybe: it's all thanks to the city's love of metal. Iron, Steel, Ferrous Material? Nope, heavy metal music..let me explain. That's right, it turns out that Oslo is home to some of the biggest metal music fans in the world. And as any metalhead knows, robots and automation are a big part of the genre. From the futuristic lyrics of Iron Maiden to the robotic stage performances of Rammstein, metal music has always had a fascination with technology. So it makes sense that the people of Oslo, who are some of the biggest metal fans on the planet, would also be interested in robotics and automation. After all, what better way to show your love of metal than by building a giant, metal-shredding robot? But it's not just the metal scene that's driving the robotics and automation boom in Oslo. The city is also home to a number of top-notch universities and research institutions, which are constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the field. In fact, some of the most advanced robotics and automation technologies in the world are being developed right there in Oslo. From robots that can climb stairs and navigate rough terrain to cutting-edge automation systems that can analyze and interpret data in real-time, the city is a hotbed of innovation. So there you have it, the secret to Oslo's success in the world of robotics and automation: a love of heavy metal and a commitment to innovation. Who knew that headbanging and high-tech engineering could go so well together?

Post 92: Be Basic

Lot's of companies are out there trying to revolutionize automation. Lot's of hype, lot's of grandiose plans and quite frankly nonsense. The robotics and automation space doesn't need useless robots, we need robots and automation that gets jobs done. I came across an interesting company the other day that claims to do just that, get a job done. The job, machine tending and operating. The most basic task in a production facility using machining equipment. And not only that but they claim they are touting a system that can be placed into service in a minute. That seems insane! The company is Rapid Robotics, and I think they must be either extravagantly brilliant or ridiculously deranged. Either way they've got the right idea. Solve a real problem with a real solution and make it easy for the customer to be the hero.

Post 91: Tech of the Day: Gantt Me Up Homie

Let's keep rolling on this project management stuff. What's the number one tool for a project manager? A beautiful color coordinated Gantt chart. No really it is. The core of any project, whether internal or external is the timeline. Having that timeline/roadmap helps provide visibility and order to all the actions which need to occur during a project. A Gantt chart starts with all of the tasks required to complete a project, their duration, and their dependencies on other tasks. For example if you're creating one to manage putting in a light fixture at your house. Step 1, buy light, duration is a week cause you need to have it shipped, Step 2, shut off power, duration 15 mins. Step 3 remove old light fixture, etc. You get the point. If you've not used one of these before Excel has a couple of solid simple to use templates that are free. Give them a shot!

Post 90: The Art of Automation

I love talking about the "art" of things. The art of sales, the art of customer service, the art of project management. I think this world needs a little more focus on the art of things. The world used to care about the art of hat making, or carriage building, and so on. Builders building a house 1-200 years ago not only "built" a home, they created art. They took pride in their work. So seeing a website with the tag line of The Art of Automation I stopped and checked them out. The company is SYSTEMA based out of Germany with about 200 employees operating in several countries. They are a software focused solutions provider delivering some pretty interesting systems. I'm not here to pitch them though. Instead I want to raise a glass to this team for caring about the ART OF AUTOMATION. In the current landscape of material handling, robotics, and industrial automation companies I'd say 70% or more of them are pushing products. Yeah they say they're solution focused or customer centric, but really they're not. They just want to get that first project sold, that first order, then move on to the next client. They deliver a solution that's really just a cobbling of various components, slap their company logo on it and pat themselves on the back. That's not art, that's garbage. We need more companies that focus on the ART of the solutions they're providing. They need to give a damn about how well built and how robust their solutions are. Kind of reminds me of automotive design engineers of the 1980s. Those cars sucked to work on. They didn't care about how easy it was to service the car, that was for the next guy to deal with.

Post 89: Who's The Freaking Superglue

I'm hopping up onto my soapbox! Who's the superglue in automation projects? I'll tell you who. Project managers. If you know a project manager, give them a hug. These folks get beat up by their company and by clients all day long. They secretly love the abuse but they won't tell you that. They're too proud to whine and complain. I've recently been involved in a BIG issue with a client and why was it an issue? Bad project management, simple as could be. In all fairness to the individual that was the acting project manager, they have not been set up to be successful to begin with so it's no surprise the project has started to go sideways. A good project manager does 4 KEY things extremely well. Keep the project on schedule Stay on budget Read the room Communicate clearly Being on time, on budget, and communicating clearly are probably givens to most of us but what about the "reading the room" what am I talking about! Yeah, READING THE ROOM. Project managers have to know what's going on with the project and communicate positive, negative, and neutral information to many different types of personalities. For example. Don't tell the customer the project is delayed and you'll get back to them on a new date. You want to really get someone fired up, tell them somethings wrong and not have a solution in mind. In this example you better come ready with an update that's worth communicating. Check out this video on the 6th sense of project management!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zqwlr8sp2Y&feature=youtu.be

Post 88: HAI Robotics Has A BattleBot!!!

Oh boy ladies and gentlemen hold onto your suspenders! I just found out that HAI Robotics has a battlebot! Some of you might be like, "eh, what's the big deal". I'll tell you what's the big deal, finally someone in the industrial automation space has gotten the hint that us techies like to see robots tear each other apart, more so than watching UFC. I think this is an awesome development and it'd be nice if some of the other big names in robotics and industrial automation followed suit. At least a few will because there are alot of "follower types" in this space that weren't courageous enough to be bold like HAI Robotics. Kudos to you brave marketing team at HAI! 🍻

Post 87: Tech of the Day: Explosion Proof Your Work!

The first time I was asked to provide an explosion proof system I asked them why they would want to blow up this equipment. I was really naive! No they didn't want to blow it up, instead they wanted to keep it from blowing up in the facility. See there are lots of production facilities that have environments which could cause an explosion. Let's review what it takes to make fire. Fuel, Oxygen, Heat. Well did you know that dust is combustible? Or your perfume? Or some of your cooking ingredients? Unfortunately companies have learned the hard way that the right combination of obscure elements and compounds can create just the right mix to be catastrophic. So how do you get work done if there's a looming fear of explosion? Well first you have to identify that you have an explosive environment. Standards and regulations - Ex Zones - ATEX/IECEx Different global standards applicable to our range of products for potentially explosive atmospheres, ATEX and IECEx. marechal.com Next is to ensure the best air flow and gas/dust mixture to bring levels below a harmful level. Then, you have to utilize equipment made to be safe for use in your environments. In my past I utilized the European classification system so I'm really familiar with ATEX Zone0, Zone1, and Zone2. When you go to buy a piece of equipment for an EX application you need to cross all your T's and dot all your I's, and then for added safety bring in a 3rd party safety company to double check everyone's work. Now don't let all this EX talk scare you off. Often all you need to do is provide sealed enclosures of all your electrical components and or positive airflow to those enclosures. See what you're doing is making it so that if there is a spark, there's no air (sealed enclosure) or if there is air then it's fresh air that's monitored. There's a whole industry around ex equipment so if you have a need you can easily search the world wide web for a company to take lots of your money, lots of it! EX equipment is not cheap, like normally 3X the cost of a standard system. I know that there are different EX solutions with asrs, agvs, forklifts, etc but did run across this post on Linkedin about EX Cobots..

Post 86: Buy Now Pay Later... For My Robot?

The biggest obstacle to the adoption of automation is money. It's as simple as that. If robots and automated systems were free almost everyone would have them. But that's not the real world. In the real world engineers have to justify every nut and bolt. We have to find problems, create solutions, calculate costs, and then try to manipulate persuade our bosses into giving us the funds to move forward. It's a sad game that many of us have to play to help make our world a better place but there is an emerging idea that's starting to take hold. RaaS.... Robots As A Service Here's the short version of what RaaS is. You, the end user, pay a monthly fee for a designated period of time and in return you get a robot that does a job. This is an interesting business model because it does 2 things which really are game changing differentiators in our space. Forces hardware manufacturers to provide quality, reliable tech AND requires the implementors of the tech to be extremely efficient. In our current CAPEX heavy space manufacturers can put out less than stellar equipment that is finicky and intrinsically complex to implement. You know automation clients rarely buy the hardware because of the hardware, they're actually buying the performance of the system so paying for the use of the robots as a service makes total sense if you're on the client side! One company that's making a big push into the RaaS is ARO. ARO stands for Administrative Resource Options but they do a lot more than admin work robotics customers. They're making a push to deliver RaaS solutions with a network of partner companies like H3 Dynamics, a drone manufacturer, Clean Robotics, and many more. I came across ARO on The Robot Report and started digging a little. These guys have built a company around managed services and recently got into the implementation and lifecycle services of robotics. They've put themselves at the forefront of what the robotics and automation industry need most..IMPLEMENTATION and SERVICE! https://www.therobotreport.com/aro-launches-new-raas-service-for-any-robotics-oem/

Post 85: Superhuman Strength!

If you love industrial tech like I do you'll really be interested in robotic exoskeletons! These are just freaking sweet and absolutely needed! Next time you're in a factory observe how the bodies of the more veteran employees look. A person's body will absolutely become conditioned to do a job over time. I've spent a lot of time at CAT plants and boy do some of those gents and ladies look the part. One robotic project I worked on we replaced an operator lifting heavy parts, like 40lb-60lbs each. The man that was working that cell prior to implementation had huge arms..and tiny little legs, just from doing his job. An industrial exoskeleton makes a ton of sense for jobs like this one. When I searched to see who's making them I found a company called Sarcos. Looks like they're still a young company but with some industrial grade exoskeletons. I predict that before we go full robotic and full ai in manufacturing we're going to have semi autonomous robo exoskeletons that help humans bridge that gap that exists between where we are today and full automation. Know what would be even cooler? How about adding some wheels to these things and adding forks to pick up pallets. That'd be an interesting concept to explore.

Post 84: Builders Of Robots

There's a wave coming and our worldwide workforce isn't ready for it. Automation and robotics is coming like a freight train and we need a skilled labor force that's ready to work. I found a short and sweet write up on steps to becoming a robotics engineer. This got me thinking and I wanted to add my own spin on this topic. You want to get into robotics and automation? Great, go shadow someone, I don't care how young or old you are! Like any career it's valuable to go sit in the seat of someone that is in the job you're looking to do. Now to becoming a robotics engineer, it's not easy but you can do it. After making sure this is really something you want to do then you need to decide which path are you going to take. You can find some jobs in the space that are for people that have not gone to college and that may be a great way to get involved without spending the time and money to go to college. If you're a little more fortunate you can go the college route. Here pedigree does matter. Going to MIT or Stanford will throw some weight behind your robotics ambitions but there are many programs throughout the US that can empower you with the knowledge to successfully pursue a career in robotics. Check out the article below and go get started! https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2022/12/28/5-steps-to-become-a-robotics-engineer/58886/

Post 83: Rise N Shine

Check out this little gem of a web find. This company called Rise Robotics claims to have invented the replacement to hydraulic cylinders! Hot Damn! No more appendage splitting fluid pressures to worry about. No more puddles of hydraulic fluid to slip on either. I love their marketing video too, I mean who doesn't like to watch hydraulic systems fail resulting in explosions? What did they invent? It's basically a cylinder with a multi-strand pulley system powered by electric motors. This is some sweet tech that I'm sure will make it's way into the automation and robotics field. This addresses the long lived challenge of hydraulic power loss due to heat and inefficient power transfer. It looks like their first target market is the forklift and heavy equipment business. Which makes a ton of sense! Getting rid of hydraulics and implementing their system will make electric forklifts more efficient for sure. https://youtu.be/-stxRh5uKRI

Post 82: Buchanan Automation

Are you on the west coast and don't know who to call for that cobot you need? Fret not friend, Buchanan Automation is here! Since 1963 they've been creating robotic systems and delivering pneumatic solutions in from California up throughout the Pacific Northwest. Check them out and give them a call! Tell them Tommy sent ya! https://buchanan-a.com/

Post 81: There's An OPEX Perfect Pick In Nebraska

So you don't think your facility can afford an asrs or it's not a good solution for your company. Think again. $1M plus automated storage and retrieval systems are now the norm and they are everywhere! All the major brands have an Autostore, Kardex, or OPEX unit. Hell even in Lincoln, Nebraska some sales guy was able to close a deal on an OPEX Perfect Pick system. I'm quite puzzled as to why Kawasaki would want anyone to know about the technology they're using in their plants. At this plant Kawasaki makes atvs, jet skis, and umm trains. Kind of odd but you can check it out yourself! I went to their website which looks like it's straight out of 1999 and they show the products manufactured at that plant. These guys spent more on their OPEX system than their website! Please for all that is holy please Kawasaki give your marketing guys a little cash to update this site. Why did this plant need an OPEX? Easy, not enough workers in the workforce. Dropping in an asrs reduced the headcount required for growth. The big news in July of 2021 in Lincoln was a $200M expansion at this plant. It used to be that you would expect a lot of new jobs from an expansion of this size but not anymore. The lion's share of the cash is on automation and equipment..not people. I don't understand the point of announcing the costs of these expansions. If anything it should annoy us tax paying citizens as these expansions are usually subsidized by tax dollars. Next time your company announces an expansion spare us how much it's going to cost and instead tell us how many jobs it'll add and why the local community should care! https://www.kawasakilincoln.com/

Post 80: Inappropriate Linear Motions

Maybe I'm just simple minded with a propensity to think dirty thoughts. But I just can't help but giggle watching this marketing video from Iris Dynamics. I know that the British are a bit more forward than Americans when it comes to sexuality but boy, I didn't realize it overflowed into the automation space! Check out the video and let me know if it's just me or are there not so subtle undertones.... https://youtu.be/xZ7T1H1uPSc

Post 79: Tech of the Day: Apple of My Photoeye

Eye see you, you see me, we're a happy family..of photoeyes. So in day 1 of automation class you learn about PLCs. Day 2, you get schooled on photoeyes. These devices are so critically fundamental to automation that if you have a degree in robotics or automation and didn't learn about them I say ask your university for a refund cause you've been taken. Photoeyes are pretty much just a small device that emits an infrared signal and reads the signal that it gets back. So imagine you have a flashlight. You turn on the flashlight and it hits an object. Well if your flashlight was a photoeye it would see the light that reflects off of the object you pointed it at. The output of a basic photoeye is on or off. So for example if you step place an object in front of a photoeye it'll trigger, remove the object and it is then untriggered. It's that simple but not. There are 3 main types of photo eyes: Reflective - has an emitter and received in one device and like I described already it emits a beam and catches what comes back Retro-reflective - includes an emitter and receiver but you have to use a reflective target Through Beam - this one splits the photoeye into 2 devices, the receiver and emitter. This is what's used in common household garage door openers to monitor obstructions in the doorway. One device emits a beam and it is received by the receiver. For a photoeye to be of value it needs to be tied into the inputs of a PLC or IPC and some logic performed when the photoeye sees or doesn't see something. The most common application of a photoeye is to be the start of a process when an object triggers it. So the logic would go something like..if a box is placed into this spot (where the photoeye is pointed at) then a robot crushes it.

Post 78: Why Pose Your Robot?

Who do we call when we need to report suspected robot/automation abuse? Here we see a robot, being posed as if it was kicking a soccer ball. There are several other photos too of this robot being used as publicity fodder. Why pose a robot doing this? Makes no sense whatsoever. I'm curious if they photoshopped out the stabilizing system from this picture because in any videos you see of this robot, Artemis from UCLA, you'll see a human walking behind the robot with a stabilizer. Now as much as I want to rag on this robot I am really intrigued by what I see. It looks like a robot that is being built for speed and agility, vs BD's Atlas that seems clunky and kinda slow. So RoMeLa and Boston Dynamics...when are we going to have our first real battle bot fight or better yet Olympics?!!!! https://twitter.com/DennisHongRobot/status/1604610100508753921?s=20&t=M7caMzdgUvAvq7VB1OJLXQ

Post 77: Fast Food Automation

I love reading about fast food automation. There are so many polar opinions that, well, it's just fun to read about. The latest news on the topic comes out of good ol' Texas. The home of dry dirt and cowboys. Seems like the golden arches have decided Fort Worth Texas is a great town to test out an automated drive thru. I'd love to know why they picked Fort Worth. I have zero ideas on what would make the people in that area the best test demographic. But nonetheless McDonalds did what they did. In a nutshell they built a vertical reciprocating conveyor that can deliver your bags of food to a drive thru window. This is super basic, like lumberjacks wearing flannels. But of course you have some people that think this is ludicrous, that this "robot" is taking peoples' jobs, how dare you not have a person hand me my double cheeseburger!! What if I need ketchup? If you check out the original tweet there are so many funny comments. IE people are going to boycott McDonalds over this (yeah right, you're addicted to their food, good luck), to others complaining about needing to have a person to interact with (so do you talk to your mailman or Amazon driver every time they drop off a package?). Two things that chap me are #1 the idea that some people are calling this a fully automated McDonalds. It's not. People are still making the food and bagging it. #2 this delivery system is not a freakin robot. Stop calling everything a robot! https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-mcdonalds-in-texas-is-the-first-ever-with-a-fully-automated-drive-through-11671818887

Post 76: Palletizers For Dummies

Some vendors in the automation space want you to feel like they're the smartest guys in the room. I hate that crap. You can smell these guys when they walk in with their cheap cologne and oversized suits. So I was pleasantly surprised to come accross IRIS and this explainer video. They did a great job of creating a system that is simple to use. You don't need a PHD to implement their palletizer and better yet they're not trying to impress you with big words. It's refreshing to see a clean system with a simple to use interface as well as a nicely thought out man to machine interface (ie the light curtain monitored areas). You know that the smartest guy in the room is generally the quiet one listening for that moment to deliver that one single pointed question that creates an inflection point in the discussion.

Post 75: Tech of the Day: VRCs, Begrudgingly Moving Totes Up

You ever need to move totes from the ground level up to say the 2 or 3rd level in your building? Well don't waste your money on a long run of inclined powered conveyor! That's a total waste of space, and money. Instead seek out vertical reciprotaing conveyor. The name is pretty self explanatory but in case you have no idea what this means (and that's ok too, we still love you just the same) a VRC is basically a device (not a robot) that can interface with a human, conveyor, or other automation and carries totes up, or down. These devices are super simple, easy to maintain, and relatively inexpensive.

Post 74: No, Not Every Damn Thing Is A Robot

I'm stepping onto my soapbox again...this time over what it means to be a robot. What lead me to this is a press release about a company called Ferguson and their army of robots. The press release is about how great these "robots" are. Yeah those are not robots. If I call my dog a robot, does that mean it's a robot too? No, what you folks have are Autostore systems which are tote stacking and destacking devices. Not robots. A robot is a humanlike device which is controlled by a programmable device (computer/plc) and performs actions a human would otherwise be able to accomplish. A robotic arm is basically a mechanized version of a human arm. If we continue on our path of calling anything that is controlled by a computer that does something, whether autonomously or programmed, a robot we might as well start a new naming convention because well everything is a freaking robot nowadays. My computer...a robot, my garage door opener...a robot, my dishwasher....a robot. https://www.hvacwebconnection.com/news22/ferguson_automated_distribution_center.htm

Post 73: Gross, Moldy Dishes Are No Match For Nala

I've done my fair share of dirty dishes! I've been laboring away in a commercial kitchen since 12 years old. I'd ride my bike to a small wings and ice cream take out place after school. That's where I first learned how to use the glorious industrial dish washer. Dishes done in minutes! Now that I think about it what's up with that? My new home dishwasher still spends 45 minutes or more doing my dishes. Well I may have found myself a solution. A little outfit out of Illinois is cranking away at solving the needs of commercial kitchens everywhere. Their latest press release is for the Nala Robotics "Spotless" autonomous robotic dishwasher. Not sure that there's really a business case for this but sure does seem cool! Go to nalarobotics.com to see the video. Vimeo is kind of annoying that it won't embed the thumbnail. https://apnews.com/press-release/pr-newswire/science-business-c4c92b9d7a435bbe2ac41dc25995f1f4 https://nalarobotics.com/

Post 72: PLC+Robot Programming = Automation Art

Have you ever been in an MRI machine? Getting your brain and chest scanned to see what’s broken in you? I have, and quite recently in fact! Surprisingly I had no idea that just a few short weeks after my visit to the ER I would get a case study from the team at Artiminds that shows how interconnected our worlds are. These guys and gals worked on a sweet project at Siemens Healthineers where they took an existing cobot and PLC and made them better. This robotic workcell had the job of screwing in over 200 screws into the stretchers that people ride on when in an MRI machine. I had the pleasure of riding on one of these units and recall the incredible number of screws holding the various guides and parts together. So my personal problems aside how did the team at Artiminds make this system better? They say they “recast” the software which integrated the plc and robot…I say they gutted the system and gave it the brain of an artist! Artiminds built a robot programming suite(RPS) that now solves two issues Siemens had. They can quickly train robot programmers within days AND rapidly teach and deploy robotic arms into production processes. The team at Artiminds built this software platform in 8 months! The coolest part is that Siemens can add almost any manufacturer of robot and still use this common platform to integrate them into workcells! Oh and if you care to know, I was totally fine. https://www.artiminds.com/

Post 71: VERSABUILT ROBOTICS

You have a high mix cnc environment? Still have people waiting around for your machining processes to complete just so they can unload the current part and then load the next blank in? That’s pretty dumb. You can do better! Stop paying humans to do dumb things. We have brains and feelings and ..um well that’s about it. Pay people to solve problems, not robots. That’s why robots are around..to do robot stuff, like those jobs that your company requires to be done OVER and OVER and OVER again. So does what I’m saying resonate in you? Am I whispering deep into your soul the sweet words of wisdom you seek?! Awesome. Call Versabuilt. They know a thing or two about making complex problems (not your emotional problems) simplified. These bandits specialize in robotic tending systems for CNC equipment. Give them a shout and let them know ol’ Tommy sent you. They may give you a discount, or more likely jack up your price! https://youtu.be/3rClo_6vbcY https://www.versabuilt.com/

Post 70: Trouble At RōBEX?

When someone sticks out their hand and says, "Hi, I'm a professional change agent", what do you think of? If you ask me It means there is a major restructuring about to happen and some people will be getting fired. Well RōBEX's owner, private equity group Angeles Equity Partners has added a new member to it's board. But one with a very specific skill set. Restructuring, cost reduction, and company sales. The writing is on the wall for the executive heavy management team. Do you really need a president and CEO for a company that is as small as these guys? They were recently acquired by this new PE group and they're already buying up companies. This looks like they'll grow by acquisition and then be sold off to the highest bidder. My question is...has this company ever been profitable. I'm guessing nope, since they brought on board the guy that's going to help them trim the fat off this hog. Don't believe me? Check out the press release yourself. https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/business-78e30ec435354c2990fef76f5be3bfce

Post 69: Tech of the Day: SLAM, no not Some Lazy Ass Machine

Say you wanted to be able to have your mobile robot create a map while also being able to navigate itself in that map..Bammm you need SLAM! Simultaneous Localization And Mapping. SLAM algorithms allow robotic systems the ability to see the environment just like a human with not only detecting obstacles in a 2D view but also with a sense of depth creating 3D maps. SLAM is used by some of the simplest autonomous devices, like robotic vacuum cleaners and mowers. These devices can sense their environment, know the path they need to follow, locate themselves in the environment, and do their task. To do this most SLAM systems use several cameras and sensors to grab image data and then there is back end software that interprets these images and creates 3D maps based on them. Is SLAM perfect? Not really. The major flaw with SLAM is that since you are constantly mapping the environment you can end up with differences between the records of the same point. Imagine you have a column in your warehouse but every time it gets mapped the dimension changes by 2 inches. This happens with SLAM systems. This issue also causes problems when you create travel paths that should be closed loops. What happens is that the robot will go around the path but may not end up at the right end point, causing the system to think it's not done with it's task. SLAM got us close to autonomous navigation but it'll be great to see the next generation of SLAM like technologies!

Post 68: WTF Is This Nonsense?

Ok, so marketing bros and gals...please explain to me what in the world is the nonsense written in this press release below. The title and picture drew me in. Dang, a robotics company that's making some kind of power assisted roller skates?! Sweet! But then I read further. Umm so why is NASA mentioned? And the rest of the story goes downhill from there. Looks like bad AI generated copy or someone is getting paid to write stuff for Shift Robotics and they're getting paid by word quantity, not whether it makes any sense whatsoever. Even though this article was absolute trash it did open up my curiosity and I checked out the company. I want a pair of these for my next tradeshow!! https://shiftrobotics.io/ https://www.analyticsinsight.net/shift-robotics-plans-to-ship-first-batch-of-moonwalkers-in-2023/

Post 67: SeaProtector1 Reporting For Duty

Call me an environmentalist if you want but I actually do care about the planet. I recycle, most of the time. I try not to be wasteful with food and I certainly don't just toss my trash into rivers. My mind is blown by how so much plastic trash ends up in the oceans. Imagine if we kept polluting the ocean at the rate we are now...the ocean will end up like some gross looking ball pit full of sludge. Gross! Well here comes some reinforcements! SeaProtector1 is armed and ready to take on floating trash. It's such a simple concept but hey sometimes thats all that's needed to be effective. I love how it lifts up the trash it caught and a conveyor belt moves the trash to the end. So brilliantly simple! https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20221211005006/en/

Post 66: AI Is F'n Awesome

I hear AI and I start to get the tingles! I'm such a fanboy. From art to music to coding there seems to be a new AI tool being released daily. Probably not really daily but there's a lot going on in the field. The latest one I heard of is Character AI. Wow, simply WOW. This a an AI tool that allows you to chat with preprogrammed AI characters of your choosing. Want to carry on a conversation about quantum physics with Elon Musk..go for it. Albert Einstein can give you relationship advice. The possibilities are endless. I spent my day talking with Tony Stark about how I can build my newsletter audience! https://beta.character.ai/

Post 65: Tech of the Day: Totes, Yeah Totes!

What's the most basic of essentials in a warehouse or manufacturing facility? You might think it's the forklift, WRONG. Maybe you think it's an ERP system, boooo. So many wrong answers from all of you! Totes, totes are the essential glue holding the universe together! The basics: You put stuff into totes and then you can carry the totes. Pretty simple huh? Yeah I guess if you want to waste your company dollars on trash. When you purchase totes there are 4 key things to note. Application - What are you doing with the totes? Are they going into a clean room or are they going to hold oily parts? Do they need to be conveyable or will they be picked up by a human? The application is important because it will help determine the material the tote is made of as well as other factors including dimensions. Payload capacity - All totes are not created equal. It's really important that you pay attention to this often overlooked detail. I've seen so many totes in facilities and many of them are not being use appropriately. Someone in purchasing thought you could get buy with a cheaper tote, but they don't have to try to carry that flimsy thing around with parts falling out of it. Make sure to get a real world number of how much weight you want to put in a tote. Anything over 40lbs is a bit of an ergonomic issue so keep that in mind. You don't need old Billy Joe filing a workman's comp claim cause you overloaded his totes causing an injury. Dimensions - Have you found a machine that shrinks or enlarges totes? If you have let me know, otherwise make sure to order the right size totes. Do you need to move totes along a conveyor? Then make sure they fit on there. Do you need people to move them? Make sure they're not too big to carry. Want to limit the chance the weight of a tote won't be exceeded? Then make sure you can't physically put more into a tote than the capacity. It's not rocket science but dimensions matter. Material - There are all kinds of totes. Cheap injection molded plastic ones, fiberglass reinforced, steel, corrugated plastic, and I could keep going on and on. If you put oily greasy parts in a corrugated plastic tote...the tote won't last long. Put aluminum parts in a steel tote and you're asking for galvanic corrosion. Material matters and mainly for the longevity of your totes. Totes are not cheap and making sure you order the right ones for the job at hand will ensure that your totes last and do the job you need them to do. If you need totes...just do a quick internet search and you'll find several companies ready to take your money. Before handing them your cash make sure to talk to someone and get feedback on your application. If they don't have someone that knows a thing or two about totes then buy elsewhere!

Post 64: Electric Tractors Are Shocking

John Deere wants to pretend they're the coolest kids on the block with their fancy self driving tractors. But the really cool kids don't have to say they're the coolest. Let me announce the cool kid, CASE IH is awesome! Self driving..yep, they also can do some assisted driving so that the combine and a trailer can sync up for unloading on the go, and the really cool thing? How about an electric tractor?!?!?!?! Yeah maybe finally we'll get all those farm kids to stop "rolling coal" with their big diesel trucks and they can start adopting electric trucks as their go to. If CASE has come up with an electric tractor then what in the world is taking so long for the electric tractor trailers (aka big rigs aka semis). the power consumption of a tractor must be massive! I can't wait for someone to transplant one of these power systems into a MONSTER TRUCK! What a redneck environmentalist's mash up! https://media.cnhindustrial.com/NORTH-AMERICA/Gallery/video/the-autonomous-solution-is-the-first-proof-point-in-the-joint-collaboration-between-case-ih-and-rave/a/019b8578-199e-476e-96b8-0a41cef98fae?categorySeoName=CASE-IH

Post 63: Genius Or Gimmick

Have you heard of Inuitive? How about a M4.5S? Don't ring a bell? That makes at least two of us. Inuitive, which seems to be a take on the word intuitive or maybe it was just a misspelling, is a company that sells ROCs. Not those kind of rocks. Robot On Chip. These guys claim to have created the holy grail of AGV and AMR sensor modules that can provide human like sensing capabilities to your mobile robotic platform. Why do I question the legitimacy of this tech, of this company? Check out their video. A fake "breaking news" kinda video that's really cheesy. Like ooozing with warm week old ricotta or if you're the dairy free sort maybe it's like that kind of cheese that doesn't melt. https://youtu.be/Spxpj_8214M

Post 62: My Robot Girlfriend Is A Stripper

Oh wow! So no, I did not search the keywords robot and stripper and sex. Absolutely not. Or did I? I'll let you believe what you'd like but either way all I can say is wow. I found myself following the rabbit down a really strange path and it started with this TikTok video of a Japanese pole dancing robot. So strange! I get us humans are pretty primal but is this how we're going to solve our depending on the sex business? Putting in some robots? After finding this first video I thought, hmm, I wonder if there's more of these types of robots. And yes, yes there is. All kinds. Now that I've stoked your curiosity...You're Welcome and good luck unseeing what you'll find.

Post 61: Come and Get Your Dinner

Have you every asked someone to pay for something and they just say no. You know how that feels, that uncomfortable moment, those tears welling up, repressed childhood memories coming to the surface. But then you just say OK and give them their stuff. Well that's kind of how it went with the guys at Cartken. Cartken is shaping up to be a direct competitor to Starship Technologies. They make these tiny little wheeled robots that deliver your coffee, lunch, and probably anything else you want delivered while you're on a college campus. I bet if these start delivering alcohol and cannabis a lot of them will go missing so maybe don't get into that business. I'm a sucker for an underdog story so let's see how this plays out!

Post 60: Tech of the Day: CNC Programming

Yep, I know how to write CNC code. Super easy if you know what you're doing. In college we actually started with NC code and then moved up to CNC. What the heck do these acronyms stand for you ask. NC = Numerical Control, CNC = Computer Numerical Control. This is the code fed into a mill, lathe, or other machining center/equipment that tells it what to do. The main difference is that NC is the old fashioned way of programming one of these machines. Kind of like using a scantron. CNC is how most machines are programmed nowadays and basically it's just a flat file like a text file that has lines of instructions. G-Code is the language that's used to write CNC code. It's super simple with the complexities being in the details. So you have some like G01 X32 Y15 Z-1.000 F400. The G is the command type, then you have your coordinates to travel to, and F would be the Feed..how fast the machine moves to get there. I've had to write this code and go run it on a machine. It's tedious and you have to understand speeds and feeds and how they relate to the cutting tool you're using, etc. But alas! Technology saves the day. There is CAM (computer aided manufacturing) software that can now take your 3D CAD model and it can create the code for you. Be careful though..you will still want to verify the code just in case there's an error!

Post 59: The Beast Mows

In a previous newsletter I talked about autonomous mowers. Those we're not mowers. They were pretending to be mowers. This thing..from Renu Robotics. Holy crap! It's A Mower! The thing looks like a bush hog (for anyone that didn't grow up on a farm that's the name of the big mower deck that gets pulled behind a tractor) on steroids. If I had one I'd probably bolt a lawn chair to it and ride around on it. It just looks fun and I think every red blooded American that drinks PBR needs one. And when your buddies come over tell them to hold your beer while you fire this bad boy up. These guys seem to be targeting solar farms but screw it, I bet if you have enough cash they'll sell it to anyone that'll buy. Also, if you need to ask how much is it..then you can't afford one. This would not be a logical purchase, but instead an emotional one like buying a $3M Pagani hypercar.

Post 58: $10M Fun Money

Another day another funding announcement in the warehouse automation space. Last week Locus announced a Series Y, X, or whatever round their up to now. But this is a bit of old news that slipped under the radar but is a game changer! Gather AI...gather what? They seem to have figured out some magic or they've built vaporware. They take drones, add vision, and software and voila they have a barcode reading, inventory tracing, volume estimating beauty of a system. I've been in at least a thousand warehouses and facilities where this system was needed. Does your Billy Bob say he can't find the boxes the WMS states is there, you mean the one that were put in the wrong spot or stolen? Hold on, I need to digress a little and jump up onto my soapbox. INVENTORY DOES NOT MAGICALLY DISAPPEAR! I absolutely HATE it when people accept that inventory that comes into their facility, which costs money, just can't be found. It's freaking ridiculous that anyone would accept this. If your facility is ok with inventory going missing someone needs to be fired. Every nut and bolt (that's a bit of a stretch) should be accounted for. Did you know that in aircraft engine assembly operations nuts and bolts can not go missing. You know what happens with missing fasteners during an engine build? They end up destroying an engine at 40,000 feet. Babies are crying, men are soiling themselves, women are hogging the oxygen masks..so DON'T accept missing inventory. OK, I feel better now so let's get back to Gather AI. What I find fascinating is how they can read so many barcode types, most which are likely placed on boxes askew, and in different locations. I'd like to see this tech mounted onto forklifts, carts, and anything else that moves around the warehouse. I don't see why this has to be tied specifically to drones!

Post 57: Meet The Real Ironman, It's Not Elon!

Elon Musk has been kinda sorta labeled as the Ironman, yes he built up Tesla and SpaceX. Both facilities I got to visit. I worked with those engineers and the stories are true. His people work their ass off. But he's not the real Ironman. Palmer Luckey is! Who the hell is this guy? Oh just the guy that created Oculus and then sold it to Facebook. You know the guy that made VR affordable. After selling Oculus he needed to do something with all his cash and time. Most people would take it easy for a bit, sip drinks on a beach, go date some models. Not this guy. He decides upend the beast that is the US military machine. How? Well normally the US government pays a select group of contractors to develop technology for the US military and it's allies. What this means is that a lot of our tax dollars are being wasted on ideas that don't work, pipe dreams of Congress. So what does a young guy with really deep pockets do? He decides to build the tech of the future and sells it to the government after it works. He can do it faster and better because his team maintains the creative control and they don't need the federal funding to make it happen. As taxpayers this means our dollar is much more effective at keeping our nation secure than in the past. The core of what they do is bring autonomous tech to the battlefield. Freakin Awesome!

Post 56: Tech of the Day: Databases

I first learned about databases in college. We learned how to create a Microsoft SQL database with some tables and then got really fancy by connecting it to an MS Access frontend. If you don't know what a database is all I've said in the past couple of sentences seems like nonsense but I'll break it down for you. See this picture? That's what a database looks like. Another way to visualize a database is like this. You go buy a filing cabinet. That's your database. Then you go and put file folders in there. Those are your database tables. And within those file folders you put sheets of paper. In a database those would be records in your table. So now with your newly created database (filing cabinet) you can organize all kinds of records (papers of information) within those tables (file folders). The beauty of the database is that it can be structured AND you can run some pretty awesome searches(queries). So sticking to the filing cabinet example, say you walked up to the filing cabinet and said. Show me all the records in the blue folder that have the name Billy Bob. Then the filing cabinet gives you a nice neat pile of records to look through. This is really all a database is, a structured place to store data so it can become useful information presented through the results of a query. Databases don't have to be hard but sometimes IT aliens people like to make them complex. For the average person they don't need to be. Now before I get all kinds of hate mail from you IT guys, more specifically you dbas (aka database admins aka damn boring ass smartasses), yes there are complexities to databases. They have to be set up right, there are little details to think about with how the data is indexed, etc. But we normal people don't need to worry about that because we have you dbas to make sure we don't screw these datasets up!

Post 55: Robot Magic

I love robot magic, especially impossible robot magic! This video caught my attention the other day and I thought dammmmnnnnn I know some people that might want to check this out. Fredrik Rydén from Olis Robotics took a cheapass webcam, mounted it to a cobot, did what has to be some pretty tough math and abracadabra we have robot magic. It's quite the bit. I just couldn't help myself. In this case Fredrik had his bot take some cables out of a container but really the applications for this are pretty endless. I don't see millions of dollars of R&D spend in this video but instead some dude that took what others claim to be incredibly difficult and simplified it. The automation industry needs more Fredriks. Smart guys finding ways to solve complex problems without having to write dissertations to make themselves seem smarter than everyone else. Cheers to you Fredrik, you sir are an Automation Junkie!

Post 54: Rocket Cutting Robots

Back in the day if the government had unspent warheads we'd bury them and let mother Earth reabsorb those toxins over the next few million years. Things have changed and we actually care about what's in the water we drink! So what do you do if you have thousands, TENS of THOUSANDS of military warheads full of VX and sarin nerve agents? Well first you try not to scare off the people living in the area, but then you hire some of them to quite literally pick up these rockets and move them around, inspecting, draining, disassembling them. That's not a job for the faint of heart. Oh and you have to do this while wearing the highest level contamination suit which takes you about 30 minutes to put on. I feel sorry for those guys and gals! But alas there's a hero here! The team at CRG Automation is called in to figure out how to remove as much risk to human life as possible from the disposal of these rockets. The president of CRG is a military veteran so he's no stranger to danger. The team created a custom solution that removes the toxic chemicals from the rockets, takes the rocket and places it into a container with a lid and crimps it shut, then loads it onto a pallet with other containers. Then that container is basically incinerated at over 1K degrees in what's called a Static Detonation Chamber. For some reason I want to call it an STD chamber but SDC is ok too. CRG did such a great job reducing the time it took to process each warhead and the risk of contamination that not only did they get the first project but they also earned opportunities to solve several other problems related to the processing of these warheads. Read more here: https://crgautomation.com/news/how-a-team-united-in-just-18-months-to-overhaul-how-america-destroys-its-most-dangerous-chemical-weapons

Post 53: Rice Sorting Race

Going down the automation rabbit hole takes me on some incredible journeys. I see rabbits, of course, tree roots, and today I stumbled upon one of my favorite, most satisfying tech to see in action..Optical Sorters. I've seen one of these in person and it's just freaking fantastic. What I find interesting is how fast these machines not only detect, but also react to say a flawed grain of rice, tomato, etc. In just a split of a split second these machines will puff a little air and kick a defective product into a reject chute or in the case of tomatoes an arm swings down and knocks it away. This tech is one of the wonders of the automation world!

Post 52: Tech of the Day: Stack Light

This may show my age but screw it, I gotta get to the basics of automation! So if you don't know what this thing is in the picture and you studied automation or robotics..call up your college and ask for a refund. You got taken. Pictured here is a stack light. Why the hell is it called a "stack" light you ask. Simple. Basically these are made by "stacking" lights on top of each other. You can order them with just 1 light or many. You can also add audible alarms too. In the wonderful world of automation these handy dandy little lights are used to show the status of a machine, assembly line, or basically anything. You could put one of these at your desk, wire up a button, and whenever you are annoyed with your boss press the button to set off a flashing red beacon and audible alarm. Go ahead give that one a try! I kid but really you can do a lot with these but all they really are for is to visually indicate status. How about wiring you ask? There are so many configurations but it's common to order a 3 stack setup and wire into a PLC output module. Then just include in your logic some triggers that latch the lights on when you want them to turn on. Want to buy one? Just do an online search for stack light...you'll see pricing in the $20 to $1,000 range. The ones I've bought in the past are about $300.

Post 51: LiDAR: The Money Pit

There are too many LiDAR companies. Almost all of the players in the space are losing money, even the top players! You want to see your investment dollars vanish then go ahead and send them your money. They need it to survive. These are companies that are bringing in sales of $5M-$40M per year but their books are ending up in the red by HUNDREDS of millions! Freaking crazy! So what gives? LiDAR is pretty cool tech with applications throughout robotics and automation. Well, there are too many of them, bloated with VC dollars, working on the same mission. There needs to be a consolidation and cutting of the fat at these companies. AND more importantly they need to get the job done. Stop doinking around playing table tennis or taking breaks to play video games. Go build a system people can use and build it to scale. Don't believe me? Check out Luminar Technologies and AEye. You'll see what I'm talking about.

Post 50: Armed Robocop

San Francisco, the home of the Golden Gate Bridge, rampant homelessness, and now robots that can use deadly force. For such a liberal city in a liberal state it's pretty incredible to hear that the city has approved the ability for their police department to utilize a robot to deploy deadly force. Now they're not looking to put a machine gun on a robot, yet. But they do foresee the need to put a detonable device on a robot and have it approach a bad guy and well...boom goes the dynamite. Most of you probably don't know this but this exact scenario played out in Dallas back in 2016. A man suspected of killing 5 Dallas police officers gets into a wild west style gunfight with more officers and instead of risking any more officers, they drove their bomb robot to the suspect and set off a grenade. Whichever side of this issue you fall on one thing is inevitable. Robots will be weaponized. The scary part of this is the reality that if the good guys have these robots, the bad guys will also have them. So be ready to order your own personal sentry gun like the ones we used to have in Team Fortress! https://apnews.com/article/police-san-francisco-government-and-politics-d26121d7f7afb070102932e6a0754aa5

Post 49: Snow Blowing Bot

For many of you people out there winter is coming...winter IS coming. Are you ready? Do you have your snowboots, gloves, coats, hats? How about your snow shovel or snow blower? Rest easy cause now there's Snowbot. Check out the video of this little guy chugging away at removing snow. Automation is making our lives easier and this is just another way for us to get lazier and become more comfortable on those cold snowy winter days. If you want to check out this company and what they're up to: https://www.thesnowbot.com/

Post 48: Tech of the Day: What's an Integrator?

If you're in the automation space you've probably heard of someone or a company being called an INTEGRATOR. What kind of a beast of a human is this? Is it like the terminator but better? Not really. An integrator is a person or a company that takes multiple technologies, generally from different vendors, and unifies them into a solution that solves a client's problem. Why do integrators exist you ask? Let's say you want to put a conveying system into your facility that routes totes to various locations. Ok, so you need to call a conveyor company, you'll need a warehouse control software, you need some barcode scanners, next find someone that will create an interface between your company's software and the warehouse control software. And how about the physical installation of all this? This is a lot of work. An integrator solves most if not all of this. An integrator acts as the lead on all of these topics delivering to you the complete package ready to go. Lots of companies don't have huge engineering staff or any at all so an integrator provides the on demand technical know how needed to execute automation projects. What's in it for the integrator? Two things. Money and experience. Integrators usually add 10-30% to the cost of a project. More importantly integrators leverage the experience from their projects to expand their knowledge base, building upon their capabilities which then affords them opportunities with other clients.

Post 47: Robots Make Us Sad At Work

A recent report came out saying that us humans are insecure about our jobs being taken by robots. Makes total sense! The development of robots and automation is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Robots are coming out every day doing jobs that humans can do. Flipping burgers, tending manufacturing equipment, parking lot security. Robots ARE coming after the "basic" jobs. Companies and some people are denying this but it's the truth. We have a labor shortage and the easiest way to make a dent in it is to automate the simplest jobs. Frankly, I'm surprised we still hand our money over to a person at McDonalds and a person is handing us our food. The study the report was based on concluded that there is a correlation between job insecurity and robot population density and that this issue is prevalent throughout our modern day society. So what's the fix for this issue? The researchers stated that self affirmation was the cure to this insecurity... Science Daily also reported on this https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221011105730.htm

Post 46: Robot Maid

I get bored sometimes. And to fill that boredom with something positive I scroll through the bowels of the internet looking for something interesting. Today I found something really awesome that I'm pretty excited about. I'm surprised that it hasn't made a bigger splash too. Samsung is working on robots to help around the house. There are a few videos from CES showing their two bots Bot i and Bot Handy. Both are freaking awesome and I really hope Samsung is serious about bringing these or at least something close to these to market. Bot i is basically a mobile personal assistant. It follows you around reminding you of all the things you need to do and it also nags at you a little bit too. Who doesn't want to develop a codependent relationship with a narcissistic bot? I can't wait! Then there's Bot Handy, your sidekick that does dishes, picks up dirty laundry, and really keeps your house in order. If somethings out of place it uses AI to detect it and deal with it. We are getting closer to the Jetson's reality I saw in cartoons! Samsung Research is an advanced research & development hub of Samsung's Set Business. research.samsung.com

Post 45: My Golfing Robot is Better Than Yours

I don't play golf, well I take that back. I play footgolf and putt putt. And I'm awesome at both. But I need some help on my "traditional" golf game. Que the hero music! Here comes GOLFI, the best damn putting robot ever. About 4 days ago the web was quietly flooded with articles and releases about this robot that can putt and is pretty good at it. If you invite me to play golf, you better believe I'm bringing this guy and a six pack. Hell I'll just drive the golf cart and tow this sucker behind me. A team of German brainiacs came up with Golfi. They claim the experiment isn't just applicable to golfing and that there are other use cases. I'm curious..how about they use this same logic to help guys at bars figure out the best pickup lines? Now that's a billion dollar idea. Johnny 5 move over, Golfi is here.

Post 44: Tech of the Day: MDR Conveyor

Motor Driven Live Roller Conveyor I see you, MDR conveyor, you work horse of the warehouse, you mover of boxes and totes! There are 2 basic types of conveyor. MDR and everything else. MDR conveyor is the standard for powered conveyor throughout the world. Basically this conveyor is awesome because you can power different sections (zones) at different times and do awesome things with it. The basic way this works is that you have these powered rollers that are attached to a group of rollers. When the powered roller is kicked on it turns itself which also turns the other rollers in that zone connected via the bands. By having several of these zones in series you create what's called accumulating conveyor. What's so great about this? Let me tell you! Instead of having boxes getting jammed up you can now have boxes or totes line up 1 at a time, neatly spaced. Then when the 1st box moves on the rest of the boxes index to the next position. This means you can build complex conveying systems with transfer and diverts. Want to read more? Check out the conveyor guys. They have a good little write up on it! www.conveyorguys.com

Post 43: Ally Robotics are the basic robot

Robots that weld, robots that assemble stuff, robots that work in clean rooms, blah blah blah. How about a robot to pick up a bag of groceries? How about a robot to make the perfect french fries? Sometimes robot nerds get off on grand robotic tasks but you know what will make robots main stream? Have them do the basic stuff no one wants to do! Remember one of my prior newsletters where I talked about Miso? The robot guys focused on the restaurant biz? Well Ally and Miso are best buddies right now cause Ally will be the backbone of what Miso delivers. So what makes Ally neat? Like really super nerd neat? Well imagine a beautiful world where robots can be trained to do stuff without needing a programmer of any sort...that's the world Ally is creating and it's freaking awesome. I see their robotic arms being used everywhere. Manufacturing, warehousing, retail, food, you name it there's probably a use case for their tech. F'n cool stuff they're doing!

Post 42: Bionauts ATTACK!

Crazy freaking stuff right here! I came across a news article about a company, Bionaut,that is getting close to deploying robots to treat brain, spinal cord, and other parts of our bodies with a weird tiny little robot. They're focused right now on treating tumors and cysts in the brain with very localized treatments but the applications could reach farther into our guts. This little bot is driven by magnetism to it's destination, it can then release a payload or INJECT a target! They've been practicing on pigs and sheep but human trials are coming. So obviously there is a lot of good that could be done here but who's to say someone with bad intentions doesn't develop their own version? This is the stuff that Bond movies are made of! Here's a video of it in action and they have several more on their website too. https://bionautlabs.com/videos

Post 41: A Press Release over 6 Robots?

You know what's not news? A project consisting of 6 mobile robots. Really? Who's idea was it to spend the time writing up the press release? Oh and if you read further you'll see the client purchased another 5 robots for. future use. So let me get this straight..an order worth maybe, just maybe $1.5M of robots (and that's a really high estimate for 11 MiR amrs) is news? Nah, I don't buy it. Add some zeros behind those numbers. There are lots of guys in the AGV and AMR space selling $3M+ dollar projects all day long, with some sites getting into the hundreds of units. https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/technology-business-tennessee-athens-541e0313e7214e8986add75e1f5bac1f

Post 40: Tech of the Day: AI

Artificial intelligence is here to stay and you better be ready to hop on the train or get plowed. Need a creative picture? AI can do it. Need a cool song? AI can do that too. Videos? Coming really damn soon. Ok, what's AI? Artificial intelligence. The quick skinny on this tech is this. First, a program is trained by uploading all kinds of content, data, etc to create something resembling a bank of memories. Then someone can ask for a task to be completed and AI will dig into it's memories and piece together what the requestor is seeking. Freaking crazy shit here. This tech is getting really good, like super awesome kind of good. You know all those pics at the top of this newsletter? Yeah all made with AI. My favorite is still the pic with my request of a robot building a robot. Robot building a robot But there's a major controversy brewing here. AI has to be trained. And it gets trained by being shown human works, yeah like copyrighted, trademarked, intellectual property. Does this make the output of AI legal? Depends on who you ask. Want your mind blown? Look up the Joe Rogan and Steve Jobs podcast interview. This was done through AI and it's creepily realistic!!

Post 39: Noname Collab Robot for Everyone

Who wants a robot? I do, I do! There's a Chinese outfit that just released a couple of new lines of collaborative robots. It's not a joke but a company called Dobot is targeting retail users of these bots. The Nova line of bots are designed for coffee shops, noodle restaurants, even physical therapists. This outfit claims that the bots are smaller and more capable than the current units on the market. Not sure on the price but if restaurants are buying them they'll need to be cheap to really go mainstream. I'm not sold that the foodservice and hospitality business is ready for these robots. It's still hard to get manufacturing and warehousing operations on board with technology and they have solid business cases for automation! https://apnews.com/press-release/pr-newswire/technology-business-30821f26ef022efb574e36a91c76ba05

Post 38: CATs get Zapped

So this is some interesting stuff. CAT, aka CATerpillar, aka the big gold colored bulldozers and heavy equipment, will soon be able to dock and automatically charge. Kind of like your little robot vacuum cleaner. This is crazy stuff! Imagine mining equipment, bulldozers, excavators that are being developed to charge themselves. Seems like mine operators will need fewer people to operate and increase output because they'll have less downtime.

Post 37: Autonomous Dog Craps on Boston Dynamics

Bad dog! Bad Dog! While BD has been busy filing lawsuits its competitors have been busy doing actually useful work. You know what's better than a dancing remote controlled dog? How about one that can go from point A to point B autonomously without an internal map? A team of robot braniacs including Ananye Agarwal, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon, have figured out how to out fight the other dogs in the pack. These dogs can climb stairs, jump gaps, and otherwise maneuver obstacles just based on camera inputs. It's freaking incredible. This is the tech that's really needed for robotic tech to really advance and be truly useful to mankind.

Post 36: Tech of the Day: PLCs

Say it with me..Programmable Logic Controller Programmable Logic Controller What the heck is a plc. Simple. It's an industrial computer in it's simplest form. It's the brain of most automation systems. You can get online and order a plc ready for you to use. Just know that it's not as simple as ordering a plc and then you're ready to go. Getting into plcs is like getting into home built desktop computers. You need to piece everything you need together. Buy a chassis, PLC, power supply, input and output modules, and other modules (like communication modules).....and also know how to program ladder logic and the basic process of how a PLC thinks. When you run a plc program you're executing ladder logic. Ladder logic is like coding as if you're playing Donkey Kong. Program starts at the top and goes down the page in rungs. But before the plc gets to the code it actually scans all the inputs connected to it. Then it executes the program, makes changes to the outputs as required, then it does housekeeping (basically all the overhead stuff that needs to be done like communications, resets, etc) Want to get into robotics or automation? Read up on plcs. It'll be well worth the time to develop an understanding of what underpins just about all the fun toys we have in our space. If you want to learn more check out information from Rockwell Automation. I would consider them the undisputed kings of the plc.

Post 35: Crazy Swimming Robots

So the folks that invented these robots are either brilliant or just odd. A couple of mad scientist made tiny, itty bitty, robots that swim. But not just swim. They can work together in a swarm. These guys were able to create a vortex with 4,000 of these little bots and get some plastic (trash) trapped in the vortex. Mind blown! Why the heck have we not started using a bigger version of these bots to clean the seas? Seriously we have a trash problem in the ocean. With a large army of these bots they could autonomously attack plastic in the ocean, trap it, and move it to a collection station. It's time we figure out how to help Captain Planet save the Earth. https://techxplore.com/news/2022-11-multiple-robots-vortex-microplastics.html

Post 34: Stop Charging the Old Fashioned Way

Are you still plugging in male plugs into female receptacles? How disgusting! That's so old fashioned. Instead why don't you hook up a Nimbus Engineering Power Relay and bam send electricity over an led beam! Imagine you have mobile robots or other automation that's battery powered but now they can take a charge without going to an inductive charging or a traditional dock. PLUSSSSSS these units can actually power the units directly so you could have almost continuous charging while units are in motion. They've already count the Department of Defense as a customer plus have actually sold units already. This could all be fluff or totally a game changer when it comes to power delivery. Check them out and let me know what you think! https://nimbus.energy/

Post 33: Leveling Up VR

What's the worst thing about VR? Aside from feeling nauseous after 10 mins? Having to stay within a confined area so you don't bash your face into a wall. Well some awesome guys are working to solve this problem! So put on your vr headset and imagine a virtual world where you can actually walk around for hours? Imagine exploring a virtual landscape by actually walking. Right now the system looks like a bit of a death trap but hey which limb severing prototype doesn't? I think this is a brilliant idea and frankly why hasn't Meta built something already? Seems like the real next progression for the metaverse. One where you can actually interact in all dimensions. If these guys building the walking system really want to level up they should work on an exoskeleton that interacts with VR so you can do things like jump, sit, lean, and of course walk and run. What if we could have virtual races too?? https://hackaday.com/2022/11/18/diy-robotic-platform-aims-to-solve-walking-in-vr/

Post 32: Tech of the Day: Robotic Surgeries

The robots are coming for your blood! I can't help watch these robotic surgery videos. Kind of like the pimple popper videos they quench my thirst for gruesome but also feed my tech addiction. I remember first hearing about this tech when I applied for a job at daVinci Systems. Basically you have a trained surgeon that sits at a console watching a video feed from the robotic head and manipulating surgical tools. But you have to watch the video and check it out to really appreciate it. The robotic setup is crazy looking! Like some kind of huge sci-fi mechanical spider eating away are a human body. There are tons of benefits to this tech. The patient suffers less because the procedures require smaller incisions to get into the body/affected area, equaling less pain medication. Since surgeons are seated and being robotically assisted there is less fatigue. Plus the video feeds can be transmitted to multiple monitors and that allows remote doctors to participate in a procedure. What's next for this tech? Imagine a surgeon getting into your body and having a heads up display identifying your various body parts, monitoring for the tiniest of blood loss, and feeding them an unprecedented amount of information. With ML and AI coming into the mix surgeries will become lower risk with higher success rates.

Post 31: You get a laser blaster, you get a laser blaster and YOU get a laser blaster

At first I envisioned something like playing laser tag and paintball in one. You know, get hit by a laser and it just leaves a little burn mark that reminds you of how tough you are. I wasn't even close. The laser blaster is basically a sandblaster given nuclear power. So think of a handheld sand blasting machine but instead of sand you use a laser to clean parts. I've seen tons of videos of this type of tech but nothing that would be for industrial use and high volume. Looks like Emerson Automation is the first big company to buy this tech from Laser Photonics. So does this mean we're getting close to a household use laser? How about a laser to cut your steak instead of a steak knife? https://www.laserphotonics.com/cleantech-laser-blaster-cabinet

Post 30: What's better than being the 148th company on a list?

148th isn't bad but to best that....be 147th like the team at Cobalt Robotics. They made 147th on the Deloitte Technologies Fast 500 list. This ranking is based on a 979% fiscal year revenue growth from 2018-2021. Those are great results for a company so congrats to Cobalt Robotics. But...the inner business analyst in me is wondering what kind of messed up metric is that?! So there are 2 things that caught my eye about this press release. First off..Cobalt Robotics. They seem to be doing something pretty good but basic. Looks like they have a security robot that can roam and also be manually controlled/interfaced with by a human. You know how when you go into a facility you have to sign in on the little touchscreen? They put that on a stick and wheels and called it a robot. This reminds me of Knightscope but not as tough. Knightscope is like robocop and Cobalt Robotics is like a mall cop. Kudos to Cobalt for the progress but they need to do a mash up with Ascento Robotics and now you would have a stair climbing security robot that you could mount a taser onto. The second thing that really bugs me about the press release is this Deloitte Fast 500 list. Here's the skinny on it. First you have to apply to it, be in biz for at least 4 years, min revenue of $50K(2018), current revenue of $5M (2021). And the formula for the growth is ((2021revenue - 2018revenue)/2018revenue)X100. So lets play with this. Let's say you have 2018 revenues of $50K, what does that mean for 2021 revenues at the 979% growth rate? About $560K, but then you don't make the list. Now here's the hack if you really wanted to top the chart of this list. First sandbag your revenue for the next year aside from $50K. Then hit $10M in revenue within the next 2 years. That would give you basically 200,000% growth based on this formula. If making the top of this list is super exciting to you and you're going to plan your business around this then stop. Don't make a business. No one really cares if you make this list. It's simply a pay for recognition list. https://apnews.com/press-release/globe-newswire/technology-robotics-north-america-2b2723eab2cd8dfc948b4c03b9552de1

Post 29: Big Joe wants to play with the big boys too

So I read a tiny, itty bitty, miniscule press release about Big Joe, the forklift company wanting to get into the automation business. From the looks of it they created a pretty half baked plan. They have an operations guy running the program and heck they don't even have the "new" machine on their website yet. What I found interesting is a comment they made on the affordability of their units. That's important but more so it needs to work and be reliable. If they can't get those 2 things right they'll soon realize no one will buy their cheap machine.

Post 28: Tech of the Day: IDGAF, oops I mean AGF

Automated Guided Forklifts Tired of Bobby Joe beating up your forklifts? Ever caught someone drunk on a forklift? Well, automated guided forklifts solve these problems and a few others. In simplest terms...its a forklift that drives itself. You program it and it runs a predetermined route. There are 2 main schools of thoughts on navigation. One is using a laser based system and another leveraging camera based tech. Both are pretty good but each have weaknesses. Vision based systems suck at positioning accuracy and laser based suck at navigating around obstacles. So depending on your application one may be a better fit than the other. Key players in the space are Seegrid, Vecna, Junghienrich, JBT, Dematic.

Post 27: Cluck cluck it's not a duck

Soft Robotics...you finally got your break. I interviewed with these guys a while back before their ceo had departed and seemed like a good company trying to figure out how in the world to commercialize their tech. But they didn't have much cash to pay so we didn't get far. But now they have sold more of their souls for $26M in a series C. They have caught the eye of the pretty ladies at the dance...Tyson Foods, Johnsonville ( the braut guys), and Marel (think food processing equipment). Based on this latest round of investments and who bought in it's no secret that they're headed down the protein route. Hopefully this cuts down on the number of immigrants losing fingers at meat processing facilities!! Read more about it here: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/soft-robotics-inc-secures-26m-in-first-close-of-series-c-led-by-tyson-ventures-marel-and-johnsonville-also-invest-and-join-soft-robotics-powerful-syndicate-301681099.html

Post 26: And the dog fight continues!!

The other day I mentioned Boston Dynamics and their lawsuit against Ghost Robotics. BD is claiming that Ghost's 4 legged friend's walk looks too much like their own yellow dog's walk and are claiming patent infringement. A pretty dumb claim. Ghost Robotics laid the smack down today with this: "Rather than compete on a level playing field, the company chose to file an obstructive and baseless lawsuit on November 11th in an attempt to halt the newcomer's progress. Boston Dynamics is drawing on their considerably larger resources to litigate instead of innovate." I love the response. Boston Dynamics needs to focus on creating a profitable business so it doesn't get sold off again when Hyundai decides their tired of supporting the team that's focused on dancing robots.

Post 25: Another day another hype event

Venture Capitalists are looking for their next big bet since SaaS is loosing it's luster. So the latest misguided bets are AMP Robotics and Bright Machines. AMP, the recycle automation guys, raised a $91M series C and Bright Machines, with a $132M injection. Folks..these companies are not profitable. They're not talking about expansion plans or creating new tech. No they need this money to survive. They're burning cash and need more runway to get them to their next round. This money provides a false sense of achievement. Look on LinkedIn and you'll see high fives all around from those at these companies. This is insane. There are tons of GREAT automation and robotics companies that are profitable or at the very least break even that if they received $90M or $130M in capital coulld do some incredible things! Instead capital flows to hype. Hey VC's why don't you bring in some common sense to these big bets and hire operators in the space that can turn a profit.

Post 24: Tech of the Day: VLMs

The big boxes you put all the stuff you want to hide in If you're using shelving to store products, tools, and other stuff you should check out vertical lift modules. Basically its a tower with storage locations in the back, storage locations in the front, and a central section where the elevator runs. You can use the built-in keypad and select a tray number and it ill bring it down to you or use software and store and retrieve your items by part number. These big boxes cost around $130K for a machine with an 8ft wide by 3 ft deep tray. You can negotiate them down though cause margins on these boxes run about 25%. Players in the space are Modula, Hanel, Whiter Systems, Kardex, and a few others.

Post 23: Bring on the robo mowers

I find few things in life as rewarding as coming home to a freshly mown yard. But I absolutely hate mowing. I know some of you probably enjoy the hours spent doing a mindless task but quite frankly I'd rather be coding or doing something else, really almost anything else besides mowing my yard. So if you're like me and you're willing to pony up a couple of thousand dollars for a robotic mower, you're in luck. Husquvarna has been refining their automated mowers for years now and the tech is getting better and better. They're not great but get the job done. It's basically a combination of a wireless dog fence and a vacuum bot. Kinda aimlessly wander around mowing. I'm a fanboy of these but until the price drops into the hundreds of dollars range I'll stick to my current way of automating my lawn mowing...paying the neighbor kid $40 per mow.

Post 22: What's with the barking?

Boston Dynamics has filed suit against Ghost Robotics. BD claims that Ghost's dogs walk too similarly to Spot and they don't like that. Really? How a robot walks is patentable? Here's one of the patents in question: US Patent for Leg swing trajectories Patent (Patent # 11,447,195 issued September 20, 2022) - Ju... A method of planning a swing trajectory for a leg of a robot includes receiving an initial position of a leg of the robot, an initial velocity of the leg, a touchdown location, ... patents.justia.com Attention ALL legged robotic manufacturers! There is a patent on the logic and process on how a robot walks. Guess this means that we'll have some robotics starting to swagger. BD claims they are protecting their intellectual property which makes sense, if they intend to commercialize their tech in a significant way. But BD isn't doing anything substantial with their robots yet. They're not going to participate in the US war machine (even though they received DARPA $$ early on) and at best right now what's going into the marketplace is Spot and their dodo bird looking box picker Stretch. Let's get real here Boston Dynamics. You are a research lab. You're an unprofitable company with no real go to market strategy or commercial direction. You should be licensing your tech so that the greater robotics community can prosper.

Post 21: You're the apple of my metallic, non-squishy, camera eye

The industry thats quietly and creepily adopting automation is agriculture. Those farmers are pretty smart. They buy up all the land use it up, then turn around and sell it for a fortune so developers can put up matchstick houses. But now they're getting into robots too. Apple farmers and packers are using something called the Aporo Produce Packer. I'll call it an APP for short. This right here is the type of automation that makes COMPLETE sense. Why pay for a worker to pick up an apple from a conveyor belt and place it into a cardboard carton? That's just dumb. This machine does it for you. Feed the apples and cartons to the unit and BAM you have apples ready to ship.

Post 20: Tech of the Day: COBOTs

COBOTS are f'n awesome and you should get one! Cobot Pic Ok so what problem do cobots solve, let me count the ways... but I'll spare you. It's simple. Buying and implementing a robotic arm used to take a small fortune for hardware, expert robotic implementation teams, software, etc. AND the projects would take forever! Buy a robot and if you're lucky in 1 year it's up and running. Not since the cool kid named cobot came to town. Want to get a robot up and running in a few hours to days? No problem. Cobots were designed to make robots easy to implement and relatively safe for humans to interact with. These little guys are great for probably the 80% of repetitive human tasks that exist in manufacturing. Machine tending is a great example. Why pay an operator to load a part in a machining center and then unload it? Bobby Joe can just sit on his rear and be the master of his cobot minion. This isn't a plug but the guys that deserve credit for making cobots main stream are Universal Robots out of Denmark. They've got over 1K employees making these bots and have basically created a magical hub of robotic nerds companies in Odense.

Post 19: Do you see the gap?

So stumbled across a pretty interesting article the other day when I was researching my Tech of the Day that got me thinking. Why the hell is there such a disparity between robotics companies? FANUC $600B+ company..Yaskawa $448B..ABB $28B Seriously? Thats a 33% gap between the top 2 manufacturers. You could fit all of the other robotic arm manufacturers in that gap. Mind blowing numbers when I see reports that the global automation market is estimated in the $80B ish range. I know the reason why, because I'm smart. FANUC, a japanese company has been at it for a long time in a market (Japan) that adopted automation early. The irony is that the US helped build up Japan's manufacturing dominance yet the first non Japanese entry is 3rd. FANUC built a name for itself in the asian market but is also a dominant force in the US market and unless ABB steps up to the plate will continue to be the undisputed champion. NOPE... WRONG ANSWER. It's cause whoever or whomever (using both cause I don't feel like checking which is right) wrote the report totally messed up. They got their currencies messed up and were comparing JPY and USD values in the same list. FANUC does NOT have revenues north of $600B USD and Yaskawa doesn't even get close to the $448B mark. ABB $28.9B USD, FANUC $4.6B USD, $3.8B USD. Approximately. This report sucks and should have been fact checked! Link below.. https://www.emergenresearch.com/blog/top-10-companies-in-cobot-market-revolutionizing-the-future-of-workplace

Post 18: Automation isn't for Everyone

Not every company can afford to automate and sometimes the companies that can afford to are just too damn cheap or ignorant to do so. I've met with tons of people to discuss automating their facilites. Sometimes I meet folks that are all in and understand automation and the real value it brings to their company. Other times, well it's just a meeting with someone checking off a box because their boss told them to look into automation. For the latter...stop calling in salespeople to give them busy work. Nobody has time to mess with your pet projects. Unfortunately big companies sometimes suck to work at. You're measured on the hours you put in as an engineer and not the value you bring so you put in the time but you don't bring the heat. So bring it. Don't just do a job, instead become a student of the automation craft. Be that expert everyone turns. This..makes..your..job..fun. Companies looking to automate need creativity not conformity. And if you're at a company and don't feel valued and fulfilled, find another job because there are businesses out there looking for you, Mr. Automation nerd. We love working with companies that want to be on the cutting edge, willing to take risks, and above all want to show their competitors who's got the coolest toys. For these companies, automation is the future and they are heavily investing in it.

Post 17: Software pwns hardware

Just my opinion but in the robotics and automation space the hardware companies WERE king. Companies would make robots and equipment with lots of bolts and buttons but they were pretty dumb machines. You gave the machine an input and it would do something. But nowadays software is king! Companies that try to deny this will take a spiral ride down to nonexistence. Software is the brain of any robotic or automated system. The reason why software is now in the drivers seat is because computing power is now faster than the mechanics it's driving. At the core of any automated system you need to be able to receive inputs, make decisions, get feedback, adjust based on the feedback, and do it all over again but super fast. Like so fast. Like think of the word cat, now say the letter C. In the time it took you to say the letter, software driving an automated system would have already made hundreds of decisions, if not thousands. So now we approach machines as dumb things and we make them super smart by adding sensors and then giving them a brain with software so these hunks of metal and plastic can do awesome things. Why do I say Software Pwns Hardware? Cause it does. When was the last time you bought a rotary phone?

Post 16: Edge Computing

Living on the EDGE! The most complicated computer network idea in existence. Edge Computing I'll try to boil this down to the basics. Edge computing is basically just getting the best of being in the cloud and having local computers. The idea is that it takes too long for requests from your computer to go out to the cloud and the responses to come back AND if there's an issue with the "cloud" you're down. So close your eyes and imagine for a second you have 3 computers all in your house. Those 3 computers all talk to each other and operate like 1. If your hard drive becomes full on one of them the system automatically saves it onto computer 2. Also, processing power gets shared. What makes this all work? Software. There are software systems that allow you to set up edge computing systems. Who cares about using edge computing? Well...one use case that comes to mind is automobile telematics. So imagine we have all these self driving cars. These cars need to make decisions in fractions of a second to prevent little Tommy from taking an ambulance ride. Cars will need to communicate to local, redundant hubs that provide lightning fast data flows. https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2022/10/edge-computing-manufacturing

Post 15: See ya later AutoGuide

Teradyne. Sounds like it's a chemical like iodine but nope it's a multi-billion dollar beast of an automation company. Teradyne has decided that their agv(AutoGuide) and mobile robotics(MiR) groups are too clunky and need to be brought together. So, AutoGuide is being extinguished and the MiR name shall prevail. So what this tells me is that the AutoGuide sales and management side of the business has lost out to it's little brother (MiR). Everything I've seen and heard points to the agvs being rolled into the MiR portfolio streamlining their sales channels. Sucks for the AutoGuide team. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20221005005228/en/Mobile-Industrial-Robots-and-AutoGuide-Mobile-Robots-Merge-to-Simplify-Automation-of-Customers%E2%80%99-Internal-Logistics-with-Full-Portfolio-of-Safe-Collaborative-AMRs

Post 14: Damn Lincoln you're on to something!

What does $427M buy you? Well, you could buy a mega yacht like Jeff Bezos has or if you want to be practical, how about an automation company with over 700 employees with 8 locations globally. I love heckling mergers and aquisitions but Lincoln Electric just bought Fori Automation and it seems like a great buy. Fori does about $230M per year in sales and is profitable. So Lincoln scored on 2 fronts. First, they bought a working cash making machine that's growing. Second, they're getting deeper with their automative clients. Oh who's Lincoln Electric? They've been in business since 1895 making welders but now they're getting into the automation business. Like automated welding. There are plenty of companies that do automated welding robotics but Lincoln has been wanting to get into the game. It'll be interesting to see if they can leave the Fori Automation team alone. Hey Lincoln, don't let your corportate politics and policies burden the agility of Fori. You are a product business, Fori is a solution business...leave them alone if you want them to be successful. https://www.inddist.com/mergers-acquisitions/news/22498639/lincoln-electric-agrees-to-acquire-fori-automation-for-427m

Post 13: Seriously?

Marketing is fun, it's creative, it's innovating. But the folks at Hy-Tek Material Handling missed the mark.. https://www.dcvelocity.com/articles/55895-hy-tek-announces-rebrand I wonder how the meeting went. A bunch of folks sitting around the conference room..the top guy says, "hey we need to come up with a new, hip name". They all stammer around thinking of different names. Fasttech Automation, Hipster Technologies, Laserbeam Solutions. Then someone sits up and yells, "Hy-Tek Intralogistics!" and the room erupts in applause. All the suits get up and leave the conference room, the boss winks at the genius that came up with the name and offers a raise, which of course the company man declines. Hey Hy-Tek...you didn't need to announce this. Nobody calls you Hy-Tek Material Handling and no one will refer to you as Hy-Tek Intralogistics.

Post 12: Tech of the Day: Beep, bloop, Barcode Scanners

How does a barcode scanner work? It's pretty cool. Basically the scanner sends out a beam of light that passes across a surface, then it measures how much light bounces back. Mind blowing that someone spent the time to figure this out. There are tons of different barcodes but the most common now are the 1D and 2D style. D stands for dimension. A 1D barcode is like the upc on a can of beans and 2D is like a qr code. Commonly you would use a 1D to keep a part number on a part or maybe a serial number but with a 2D you can have much more information that you grab from a single scan, like you could put a model number, serial number, production date, etc all in one scan. So to get the information from a barcode scanner into a system...it's actually pretty easy. Most scanners are treated like a "keyboard wedge" and will simply put the output of the scan whereever your cursor is focused on the screen. The first time I played with a barcode scanner I hooked one up via USB to my laptop, opened up Notepad, then scanned a barcode and boom numbers appeared on my screen. The most basic scanners simply output what they scan but there are programmable barcode scanners that you can actually program to do things, like add carrage returns, look for certain snippets of characters, and other cool things. You can pick up a cheap scanner for under $100 with a good programmable one running about $1K, and others running into the $5-$10K range. My favorite are the Symbol brand barcode scanners...which are now Zebra scanners. With my very favorite programmable one being the Zebra DS3678.

Post 11: US Army, take my money and do more cool shit please

I want a robotic breacher. Just to say I have one. I come from a military family so I'm used to seeing really awesome military gear. but our armed forces are moving fast to modernize our tech. I've seen the speedboats that the Navy Seals use, stood next to F-14 Tomcats, been on the deck of an aircraft carrier while it's at sea so I'm no stranger to seeing absurd looking equipment. This latest gadget, the US Army's Assault Breacher Vehicle Remote Control System, allows the service to clear minefields and dangerous zones with ease and with zero risk to loss of life. Now I'm not an advocate of using automation or robots for taking life but for prevention of death or deterrent I am all for it. As we are seeing in the Ukraine/Russian conflict robotics, drones, and tech will be at the front lines of future wars. https://www.defensenews.com/unmanned/2022/11/03/us-army-digs-deeper-to-develop-robotic-breachers/

Post 10: Stop hogging the good stuff Amazon

It's a bird, it's a plane, no it's a well..robotic arm...named Sparrow, like a bird. Amazon's robotics teams are hard at work putting together solutions to their internal struggles. All the news today was about Sparrow, their robotic arm that can pick items from a bin. The news makes this sound like it's a fresh idea and that Amazon unlocked some kind of magical robot capability. They didn't. And on top of that the only one that will benefit from this tech is Amazon. Just like their mobile bots Amazon is not going to share this technology. So as great as it is that Amazon has figured out bin picking, who cares about their system. If you need help with inner bin picking talk to Soft Robotics or RightHand Robotics...they can help you get this done. I'm not sure why Amazon keeps rubbing it into everyones' faces (Walmart) but they're kind of acting like the rich kid with all the cool toys that never shares. The irony is that there are a lot of companies already using tech that's far better than Amazons but they are staying quiet. Keep on keeping on Amazon, nobody cares about your tech unless you're going to share.

Post 9: Who would have guessed robotics and automation is growing?

So. Why is anyone surprised by the growth of the automation space? Even before the VID came through automation was growing at a steady clip. Some established companies in the space growing at 20-30% per year. The last few years just put the space into overdrive yet I'm seeing reports making it big news that the space will grow an estimated 8% per year. Does anyone realize that the North American and Chinese markets is/are the most under saturated automation spaces on the planet? Japan and Germany have been at it since my dad was in diapers but here in the US we've taken our sweet time bringing in automation to take over jobs supplement our workforce. We are entering the Automation Age. Companies need automation to survive due to lack of labor and pressure from global competitors. These companies and those that make automation need a HUGE workforce to ideate, develop, design, manufacture, apply, and support all this automation. I'll bet that one day referring to the Big 3 will not be in reference to the car companies, instead it'll be in reference to the 3 largest robot producers in the world. They'll become the giants of industry...

Post 8: Tech of the Day: PANDA, not the lazy fluffy bears chewing on bamboo..Print AND Apply

If you haven't been in a warehouse lately it'd be ok for you to not know what this tech is but let's get you up to speed. PANDA is the common name for a print and apply system. Took me years to finally understand why it was called PANDA. The P from print, all of AND, plus the A from apply = PANDA. A print and apply system has the job of printing labels and applying them to boxes as they move down a segment of conveyor. Some of these systems all do inserting as well so they can print a document and drop it into a box. These systems can be pretty basic just printing off a shipping label and using a little bit of pressure to push the label on the box or they can get complex with multiple printers, multiple labels, working on different sides of the boxes. These systems exist because at one point some poor soul had thousands of papercuts from printing and applying labels by hand onto boxes. Most PANDAs are connected to your software since you'll need to push the shipping information or the information to be printed. Two companies with a good reputation are Streamtech Engineering and Fox IV.

Post 7: International Federation of Robotics

Never heard of them? Not surprising, most people in our business haven't. The name implies this is a big deal, INTERNATIONAL....FEDERATION. Holy crap this has to be a big deal. This must be the brain trust of all that is robotics! Nope..Basically it's a group of of about 10 or so people working for a nonprofit out of Germany that gather data on robotics and publish reports and articles. They've been around since about 1970 and they claim to have about 80 members. They have some logos on their website if you want to check them out. Looks like they put on a conference for their members to help pay the bills. They do put out some interesting reports like the Service Robots Reports and the World Robotics Report. Interesting finds. In checking out the World Robotics Report I saw that China is absolutely dominating the world when it comes to robot installations, somewhere around HALF of all robots installed were installed in China. Come on US of A lets pony up the big bucks and fire up the robots!

Post 6: Would you like fries with that?

Miso Robotics ring a bell? If not you need to look them up. They're working on making robots fast food friendly. White Castle, Jack In The Box, and Buffalo Wild Wings are early adopters using Miso's bots to fry food and pour drinks. I even love the name of their bots, Flippy and Sippy. Doesn't get much more straightforward in my opinion, and mine is the one that matters here. So think about this. Robotics in fast food has been SLOWLY evolving and there needs to be a major shift in how these fast food companies look at their stores and employment models. If Miso can pull this off and offer a low cost, reliable automated system, it could be a game changer for the entire fast food business. Short staffed? not anymore. Dirty kitchens? nope. Kitchen size? cut in half. Finally I'll be able to get that perfect cheeseburger and not something that looks like it got hit by a bus on the interstate.

Post 5:

Industrial robotics and automation is the most boring but hottest industry. It's not hot, like sexy hot, it's just growing freakishly fast with HUGE potential. That's what she said...

Post 4: Top trends in automation are a no brainer

We scoured the internet seeking the latest news but what what we found were several articles about the "top trends" in automation. No surprise these lists are pretty basic. So basic in fact I'm embarassed to write the list, but hey why not. Collaborative robots You know the type that are meant to work with people but sometimes change their mind. From machine tending to placing labels on cartons, collab bots are all the rage. Safety This makes sense. Just like the canary in the coal mine there's new tech that helps keep workers on the job longer. Machinery automation You know that old press no one wants to run, or loading the heat treat furnace? Companies are quickly automating these mundane processes where there are inherit risks for people to interact with.

Post 3: Applied Industrial Technologies buys Automation Inc.

Interesting find in the deep netherworld of the internet. Why would a major player in the process automation space buy a company that maybe would equal 1% of it's own staff? I'm just going out on a limb here but my thought is to simply keep building it's company through a strategy of buying small, tiny, automation companies to gain head count, a customer list, and a sweet ass domain name. Yep, Automation Inc. owns www.automationinc.com. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me otherwise. They're not buying much of anything else. The company has been around since 1981 and has about 50 employees. That's 40 years of existence growing at about one point something employees a year.

Post 2: Tech of the Day: AMR aka Automated Mobile Robots aka battle bots gone domesticated

AMRs have really spiked in popularity here recently! They are basically a rolling platform that can self navigate through their environment using sensors, ai, and a map of their environment. So basically they kind of know where point A and point B are but they can adapt their path depending on obstacles between those 2 points. The good is that they're easy to set up and can wander about your facility doing their thing. The bad is that they sacrifice process repeatability due to poor facility layout and housekeeping. These bots are good for basic tasks where you have flexibility in timing. If you have a takt time and absolutely must hit it then these little guys may not be a good idea. Companies in this space include HAI Robotics, MiR, Arculus, and some of the products from 6 River Systems and Fetch Robotics.

Post 1: When will the robotic startup crash happen?

Seems like every day we hear of another SaaS or social media company having massive layoffs. Has anyone stopped to think about the companies in the material handling and automation space which have been "raising" money? There are a couple like Ambi robotics celebrating additional rounds of fundraising and others like Vecna which had to cut headcount due to lack of funding. What this tells us is that there is a group of companies that are not profitable and they think they need more cash to become profitable. Robotics and automation is not the same as SaaS. The design and manufacturing of robotics is capital intensive because of the labor costs AND manufacturing costs. I've spoken with many founders in our space and there are the leaders and teams that are actually building systems that solve problems in our space, doing awesome work, and others just selling vaporware with the hopes of being purchased by a bigger company. Covid put a spotlight on the dependence of our material handling systems on human labor in turn spiking interest in robotics and automation. So when will the crash occur? It won't. The proportion of startups and vaporware manufacturers to legitimately profitable businesses is immaterial. The noise around vaporware will be loud and sensationalized but the market will continue to grow.

Post 124:



Title: The Future of Robotics and Automation is Here!

Ah, the sweet smell of progress! The future of robotics and automation is here and it's a glorious thing to behold! For years, people have been speculating about the possibilities of artificial intelligence and automation taking over our jobs, and now it's finally here. No more working in a cubicle or spending hours of your hard-earned money on tuition - you can now just sit back and let the robots do all the hard work!

The future of robotics and automation is brought to us by the innovative minds of Silicon Valley, who always seem to be one step ahead of the game. They have developed robots that can do everything from make coffee for us to help us with our daily tasks. The possibilities are endless!

But it's not just robots that have been invented to help us in our daily lives. Automation is also taking over the workplace. Companies are now using automation to do everything from filing paperwork to managing customer service requests. This means that more and more jobs are becoming obsolete as machines take over, making it easier for companies to cut costs and increase profits.

But don't worry! This doesn't mean that everyone is going to lose their job. In fact, experts predict that the job market will be more robust than ever as automation takes over mundane tasks that humans used to have to do. This means that people will have more time for creative tasks, such as coming up with innovative ideas and creating products that can change the world.

The future of robotics and automation is certainly exciting, but it's also a bit scary. We have to be careful to ensure that we don't let machines take over too much of our lives. We need to remember that humans are still the masters of the machines, and that we need to be careful about how we use them.

So, the future of robotics and automation is here. But it's up to us to decide how to use it in order to create a better future for everyone. It's time to embrace the robots and automation, but also to be wary of their potential to take over our lives.

The future of robotics and automation is here – and it's time to embrace it with caution!

In the future, robots may do all the work – but humans will still be the masters!

Post 123:



Title: The Robot Revolution is Here: Automation is Shaking Up the Workforce

It's time to face the facts - automation is shaking up the workforce and the robot revolution is here. From the mundane tasks of everyday life to some of the most challenging and complex processes, robots are taking over.

But before you start to panic, it's important to understand how automation is affecting the workforce. As technology advances, more and more jobs are being automated. Not only is this creating a shift in the types of jobs available, but it is also changing the way humans work.

This is not just a trend. Automation is here to stay, and it is only going to become more advanced. So, how do businesses and individuals navigate this new landscape?

First, it's important to recognize the positives of automation. Robots can reduce human labor costs, increase efficiency, and increase production rates. They can also reduce the amount of time required to complete tasks, and are often more accurate than humans. This means that companies can produce more products with fewer resources, saving them money and providing higher quality goods to consumers.

However, robots can also present some challenges. Machines can often lack the creativity and problem-solving abilities of humans. As such, businesses will need to find ways to leverage robots alongside humans to make the most of their capabilities.

Another challenge is that robots can take away jobs from humans. As automation increases, the number of jobs available to humans may decrease, leading to more unemployment. Businesses will need to find ways to create new jobs that complement automation, and retrain existing employees to take on new roles.

Finally, it's important to recognize the ethical implications of automation. As robots become increasingly integrated into our lives, there will be questions about how they should be used and who should be responsible for their actions. Companies must be proactive in addressing these ethical considerations and ensure that their use of robots is fair and responsible.

The robot revolution is here, and automation is shaking up the workforce. It's a complex issue with both potential benefits and challenges. Companies and individuals must understand the implications of automation and find ways to leverage it to their advantage. With the right approach, robots can be a force for good and a tool for creating a better world.

The robot revolution is here, and it's time to embrace automation or be left behind. Get ready to join the robot revolution and see how automation can work for you.

Join the robot revolution and make sure you don't get left behind!

Post 122:



Title: The Robot Revolution is Here. Don't Fear It, Embrace It!

Robotics and automation have been steadily infiltrating all aspects of our lives. It’s the trend of the decade, and it seems like it’s here to stay. But what do these developments mean for us humans? Should we fear the robot revolution, or should we embrace it?

Let’s start by looking at the current state of robotics and automation. Artificial intelligence (AI) is constantly being improved upon, making it capable of more complex tasks. We’re also seeing robots that are able to interact with humans in a social and meaningful way. Automation now does the majority of the repetitive tasks that would have otherwise been done by a human, freeing up our time for more creative endeavors.

The rise of robotics and automation has been a boon for businesses. Automation has made it easier for companies to produce more products with fewer resources. It has also enabled companies to streamline processes, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings.

But the robot revolution isn’t just good news for businesses. It’s also a great opportunity for us humans. The rise of robotics and automation has opened up a world of possibilities for us to explore. We can now pursue more interesting and creative endeavors, leaving the mundane tasks to our robotic counterparts. We can also use robotics and automation to make our lives easier. From automated grocery delivery to robotic vacuum cleaners, there are plenty of ways to make our lives more convenient.

But with great power comes great responsibility. As robotics and automation continue to evolve, it’s important to ensure that we use them responsibly. We need to take steps to ensure that we’re not replacing human jobs with robots, and that we’re using them in a way that benefits everyone.

It’s clear that the robot revolution is here, and it’s here to stay. But this doesn’t have to be a cause for fear. We can use robotics and automation to make our lives easier, and to free up our time for more creative endeavors. So don’t fear the robot revolution, embrace it!

Robots aren't just here to take our jobs, they're here to enhance our lives.

Post 121: News of the Day

Here it comes…the US Airforce is looking to automate it’s big cargo jets. If Reliable Robotics can pull it off then it won’t be much longer before commercial airliners will be fully automated too! https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/politics-business-wire-a16b0b379b5c4aa4b9fec2b23d2a009b I give him a hard time about Artemis playing second fiddle to Atlas but Dennis Hong is a super sharp guy. My money is that one day he’ll be considered one of the founders of modern day robotics. Check out this article on him and the youtube video. At around 17:25 I started laughing.. https://universityofcalifornia.edu/news/ucla-roboticist-dennis-hong-rolls-out-his-robot-posse-tedx-talk https://youtu.be/yLxfPG_Ay_0 I’m not a fan of dancing robots, it absolutely annoys me that human brain power is being used to develop robots that can dance. How about stopping world hunger, creating world peace? But if you’re so inclined there will be a debauchery of sorts between Jason Derulo and a bunch of dancing robotic dogs at the Super Bowl this weekend. https://www.koamnewsnow.com/entertainment/television/carl-junction-robots-featured-at-the-super-bowl-with-jason-derulo/article_c246d0f2-a8cd-11ed-b588-e775d1af7d07.html

Post 120: Automation is Booming

Alright folks, let me tell you something about robotics and automation, it's now mainstream, and you know why? Because technology is advancing faster than a cheetah on fire! And the demand for automation, it's skyrocketing like the stock market in the 90s! Now, let me break it down for you. Robotics and automation are now mainstream because AI is getting smarter than my ex-wife, machine learning is learning more than my kids, and the cloud is clouding up more information than my Uncle Bob after a few drinks. These advancements have made it possible for robots to do things we never thought possible, like complex decision making, pattern recognition, and even talking like a human, whoa! And you know what else is driving the growth of robotics and automation? Companies, they want to be more efficient, accurate, and save money, like Scrooge McDuck with his money bin! They're investing in these technologies, like a kid investing in their first stock. Manufacturing, healthcare, retail, logistics, every industry is recognizing the benefits of automation and jumping on the bandwagon. We’re in the middle of some kind of freak economic evolution and robots are to blame. Now, if you're in the robotics and automation industry, you better listen up. First, stay on top of technological advancements like a cat on a hot tin roof, or you'll be left behind. Keep an eye on emerging technologies, like 5G and the Internet of Things, these things will change the game, like LeBron James in the fourth quarter. You think everything is going great then all of a sudden you’re the old guy in the room talking about rotary phones. Understand your customers, know what they need and what they want, like an irish bartender knows what drink to make you on a bad day. This requires a deep understanding of the industries and applications where automation is used, and the challenges and requirements that come with it. Stay attuned to the broader social and ethical implications of robotics and automation, like a mother stays attuned to her baby's cries. Know when it’s time to feed the beast versus putting it to sleep. Think about job displacement, privacy, and the ethics of automation in certain situations, like a lawyer thinks about the law. By doing this, you'll ensure that your products and services align with the broader goals of the industry, like two magnets attracted to each other. But don’t be afraid to be different. Different is now good. Different is now awesome. So folks, there you have it, robotics and automation are now mainstream and there's no stopping it. Stay ahead of the curve and stay ahead of the competition. Just remember, always stay knowledgeable, like a teacher on the first day of school! Peace out.

Post 119: News of the Day

I despise when I see people walking around with airpods in. There’s no way you can hear me better with those in! Personal pet peeves aside the CEO at Apptronik does a great job not being giddy about his company’s involvement with NASA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL24Hm2svrc Not sure there’s any opportunity in the automation space? Think that you should be happy as an automation manufacturer with just a couple of hundred units? You’re wrong. Autostore has sold Medline over 1,450 bots across 18 systems. These guys are killing it! https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/medline_builds_on_success_with_mobile_robotics What do you get when you give some ex-SpaceX guys $45M in funding? Something freakin awesome is what. They’re taking 3D printing to the next level! www.tctmagazine.com/additive-manufacturing-3d-printing-news/metal-additive-manufacturing-news/metal-3d-printing-company-freeform-emerges-from-stealth-with

Post 118: Lean Manufacturing Heros Unite!

Lean manufacturing is the superhero of production processes, swooping in to save the day by banishing waste and maximizing efficiency. It's like a game of Super Mario, but instead of jumping over Goombas and collecting coins, you're identifying and eliminating steps in the production process that are slowing you down and making you miss the high score. Here are three key things to remember when implementing lean manufacturing: The Incredible Hulk Focus: Lean manufacturing is like the Hulk, it's all about destroying anything that doesn't add value to the customer, leaving only the strong and efficient processes standing. Empower the Avengers: Just like the Avengers, employees are the real heroes of the lean manufacturing world. By empowering them to identify areas for improvement and make changes, they become the driving force behind continuous improvement. Continuously Improving like Spiderman: Lean manufacturing is like Peter Parker, always ready to swing into action to save the day. It's not a one-time event, but a never-ending quest for improvement. Regularly reviewing and optimizing processes ensures that the production process stays spry, like Spiderman. For more information on lean manufacturing, check out the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), a wealth of knowledge that can help transform you into a lean manufacturing superhero. And, like any good comic book, there are plenty of books, articles, and case studies available that explore the lean manufacturing world and its implementation in various industries.

Post 117: Tommy's Take on Getting Hired In Automation

Oh here’s some juicy news, Vanderlande just lost their President of Warehouse Solutions in North America to Swisslog! Sounds like the ship is starting to take on water over at Vanderlande! I’ve chatted with Swisslog’s new CEO in the past and the Vanderlande team and I can make assumptions as to why he left. I’ve dropped some chocolate covered morsels of wisdom in the following…. So you want to work in the land of robotics? Haha good one! Getting a job in the automation industry is no easy feat, especially if you're hoping to break into this dusty, "old school" boys club. The deck is stacked against you from the start with “veterans” who have been in the game for centuries and built-in networks that make it nearly impossible for outsiders to break in or even those in the industry to move up. But let's say you're lucky enough to overcome these hurdles and land an interview. Good luck impressing your future employer with your lack of specialized knowledge and skills in electrical and mechanical systems. That's right, if you haven't been working in the industry for the last decade or so, you can forget about even having a chance unless you’re interviewer is one of the rare open minded ones. And don't even think about trying to bring some new and innovative ideas to the table. This industry is notorious for being slow to adopt change, so unless you're content with sticking to the same old processes, you might as well start searching for a job elsewhere. But hey if you are gluten for punishment and are looking for abuse, here are 3 tips to getting ahead in this biz the modern way: Be the BOSS: Building relationships with industry pros can be key to landing your dream job. Attend industry events, participate in online forums, and connect with professionals on LinkedIn to expand your network and make yourself known to potential employers. And don’t do this meekly, do it like you own the space. But don’t be a narcissist jerk. Get to GURU level: The automation industry requires a combination of electrical and mechanical skills. Take some courses or certifications to prove you’ve got what it takes and make yourself sexier an attractive candidate to potential employers. Focus on Innovation and Customer Service: The automation industry can be slow to adopt new ideas, but companies are always looking for individuals who can bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the table. Additionally, a strong focus on customer service can set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your commitment to the industry. Now what if you’re one of these many robotics/automation companies that’s hiring? What do you need to do to bring talent on board? Easy, do what it takes to hire the talent that you need. Comp and benefits are 2 key topics. Don’t assume that you can hire an experienced sales guy with a base of $50K and OTE of $100K with no benefits. That may have worked a million years ago for the guy peddling the wheel but nowadays smart companies are creating lucrative opportunities in all positions.

Post 116: Relay'n The Goods

It's pretty obnoxious to open up Linkedin and hear about more layoffs from teary eyed CEOs. It's just irritating. The reason for the cutbacks are because someone (leaders generally at the C level) poorly planned the future of their organizations and they should take ownership. Accountability starts at the top and the boards of all these companies need to look at cutting and clearing the leadership which put them in the crappy position to have to layoff employees. https://youtu.be/f9v-TJOtKT8 But, I surmise that for every over leveraged tech startup that's laying off people, there is another soundly planned business hiring talent. Relay Robotics seems to fit the latter. They have to be doing something right to be adding more leadership. First take a look at their product. A mobile robot that performs a simple task. Move items from one location to another. No huge claims here of paradigm shifting tech, or elaborately complex use cases. Just a bot that goes from here to there and does it really damn well. Kudos to you Relay, may the world be endowed with many more of your robots to deliver me toothpaste and shaving cream!

Post 115: Tech of the Day: Industry 4.0000000000

Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution, characterized by the integration of advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) into industrial processes. Blah blah blah... In the robotics and industrial automation industry, Industry 4.0 is being served up in a lot of ways: Smart manufacturing: Robotics and industrial automation systems are being connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) to create a "smart factory" in which machines and systems can communicate with each other and with a central control system to optimize production processes. This isn't a mind blowing concept but for facilities that still employ old green screen AS400s it's a complete crap your pants paradigm shift! Predictive maintenance: IoT sensors and machine learning algorithms are being used to predict when maintenance is needed on industrial automation equipment, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. Who needs fortune tellers when you have IoT sensors and ML? Imagine your forklift telling you it needs a new hydraulic pump before it actually fails. Human-robot collaboration: Industry 4.0 technologies are enabling robots and humans to work together in a shared workspace, with robots performing tasks that are dangerous or difficult for humans, and humans performing tasks that require human intelligence. Finally, robots can take over the boring tasks, and we can finally focus on the fun stuff, you know like writing newsletters about robots. Self-optimizing systems: With the use of AI and ML, systems can optimize their own performance in real-time, making adjustments as needed to improve efficiency and reduce downtime. It's like giving your robot a personal trainer. Real-time monitoring: IoT sensors allow real-time monitoring of industrial automation equipment, enabling operators to quickly identify and address any issues that arise, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. Think of it like a robot babysitter. Industry 4.0 technologies are helping to make robotics and industrial automation systems more flexible, efficient, and capable of adapting to this ever changing world. Now if I could only get the IRS to be a little more flexible too!

Post 114: Integrators R Us

Ladies and gentlemen, have you ever heard of a material handling integrator? It's like the Rodney Dangerfield of the intralogistics world, they gets no respect! But let me tell you, these folks are the unsung heroes of the warehouse and manufacturing industry. They're the ones who make sure that all your Amazon packages get to you on time, and all the parts for your new iPhone get to the assembly line. And recently these guys are turning into celebrities. Their companies are growing, expanding, acquiring each other. I've been in the space a long while now and never heard of Vargo but they're not only expanding because of local work they've done but their client list includes companies like GAP. It's crazy to me that there are so many integrators out there flying just under the radar. But let's be real, being a material handling integrator is not for the faint of heart. It's like trying to solve a Rubik's cube while blindfolded, with one hand tied behind your back, and a baby on your hip. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it! And let's talk about the equipment these guys work with. Have you ever seen conveyor? It's like the treadmill of the industrial world. It's always moving, but it's going nowhere. Small tiny changes are celebrated like a BFD. And don't even get me started on the robots. They're like the robots from the future, except they're stuck in the present, picking up boxes and moving them around, and sometimes slapping a shipping label on them. But you know what they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" But material handling integrators, they're like, "if it ain't broke, let's make it better".

Post 113: The GOAT of Robots

Humans are weird creatures. We do some absurd things. We mix peanut butter and jelly in a sandwich and partake of it's sweet heavenly goodness. We take bugs and dip them in chocolate and call them treats. You know what else we do? Build a robot in the shape of a giant goat and then ride around on it. Part motorcycle, part erector set, this thing makes my brain hurt just looking at it. Kawasaki Robotics has outdone themselves with this complete debauchery of human talent and resources. For extra humor check out the comments on the video. Hilarious stuff! https://youtu.be/ApzHdofI0kE

Post 112: Yaba Daba Doo, 3D Printed

Well this is pretty cute! A company has taken on the challenge of building 3D printed houses. The problem, young adults want to spend all day on Tinder and playing video games and not construction work. Solution, build houses with a ginormous 3D printer that spews forth concrete in layers. They've already built one house in Arizona and have started a neighborhood. After building that first house they raised $58M to keep the company going. Check out that house in the video link below. Seems like a great way to lower home building costs and address our homelessness issue too! So this house is technically a house. But that layered concrete looks like crap. I don't see very many people wanting to live in a house with walls that look like badly aligned loose leaf paper. What do you think? And really this house reminds me of something out of the Flinstones with all the rounded edges. I do have to digress though..if you watch the video you'll see 3-4 guys gathered around a tv wall mount box. I giggled because it's a 1-2 man job tops but they had a crew conversing about it. Seems like they weren't sure exactly what to do. Maybe they should have called the GeekSquad for their opinion too. https://youtu.be/dMlUaCYYLPs

Post 111: Tech of the Day: Limit Switches Aren't For.....

So, what is a limit switch? Well, it's basically the bouncer at the club of electrical switches. It's the one that checks your ID and makes sure you're not a robot or a toaster before letting you in. But seriously, it's a type of electrical switch that controls the movement of a machine or device, like a door or a gate. It's like the "Do Not Enter" sign of the electrical world. Three key things to know about limit switches? First off, there's different types, just like there's different types of people. You got your mechanical limit switches, which is like the old-school bouncer at the club who checks your ID by hand. Then you got your proximity and photoelectric limit switches, which is like the bouncer with the fancy scanner that checks your ID without you even having to take it out of your pocket. Second, there's actuation. Some limit switches are manually actuated, which is like the bouncer who checks your ID and lets you in, but you gotta pay an extra cover charge. And then there's automatically actuated, which is like the bouncer who checks your ID, lets you in, and gives you a free drink. And third, durability. Limit switches are built to last, like the bouncer who's been working at the club for 20 years and still got all his teeth. They're made from durable materials, like metal or plastic, so they can handle the rough and tough environment of the electrical world. So, how do you use limit switches best? It's like choosing the right club. You gotta choose the right type of switch for the specific application. And don't forget, regularly checking and maintaining your switch is like getting a regular check-up at the doctor. It's important for the switch to function correctly and safely. And just like going to the club, always remember to wear protective gear

Post 110: Can Storage Solutions Survive?

Hot damn, here's a juicy morsel of German takeover! Looks like Jungheinrich is finally getting into the US automation game. They've announced a $375M acquisition of Storage Solutions (Westfield, Indiana). But who will really win with this deal? I project this being a lose-lose for both companies. Here's why. Jungheinrich is a playing automation in Europe and now they want to give it a go here in the US. They are a forklift company, dipping their toes into the automation space. This purchase of $375M for an "integrator" is not a big deal for the $4B+ company that they are. What's interesting is that they are a forklift company, not a solutions company. So everything they do is centered around products not projects. Storage Solutions is a used rack company. That's what they're known for. Call them and you can get just about any used rack you want. In the past 5 years they started embarking on a journey to get into material handling systems. They are no Bastian, Dematic, Fortna, KPI, RMH, etc. These guys are just getting started on this mission with a lot of fresh new talent that needs experienced leadership to guide them. So how's this a lose-lose? Storage Solutions was getting primed to sell. Whenever this happens companies care more about how things look than the reality of what is. So part A....a company with leadership which was looking to cash out. Part B, a behemoth of a company that doesn't have a real game plan in the US and lackluster M&A diligence. Check out how Arculus is going.. Now take part A plus part B and add the secret sauce. In this case it's the German based mindset of how to do business. Storage Solutions will have some autonomy for a few minutes and then they'll get smothered with multibillion dollar company politics, policies, and mindset. Some may say nahh, Toyota Industrial did the same thing with Bastian and Raymond. Not quite. Toyota Industrial resided in the US doing business for years empowering US based leaders to run the business, and Toyota Industrial was successful building and growing a business in the US, ironically another Indiana based company. AND Bastian Solutions was already a premiere material handling integrator with exotic sites throughout the US. I wish these two companies the best but the only way this will work is if Jungheinrich doesn't penetrate the pureness of Storage Solutions American way of doing business!

Post 109: Freaking Awesome Kids

The robotics and automation space can be a greedy space, full of old guys trying to squeeze a buck out of any sucker that will buy their outdated tech. It get's pretty soulless at times in this space. Feeling like we're just part of a cog not really doing much aside from putting dollars into the pockets of these business owners. So when I see a story that bucks this financially driven ideology I'm interested. Not just kind of interested but grossly obsessed with going down the rabbit hole soaking up all the goodness. So what's so special? A group of kids at Farmington High School's Rogue Robotics team is making a difference. High school robotics team has built seven wheelchairs for children with disabilities Farmington High School’s Rogue Robotics helps families free of charge. www.kare11.com Like a real difference in the lives of other kids not as fortunate. These roboticists, yeah they're roboticists, have been modifying Power Wheels turning them into awesomely fantastic wheelchairs for disabled children. This isn't a one and done thing either. They've been doing this for years and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Check out the video that made their local news and I recommend you donate to them. Whatever you've got send them more fuel to further their cause. I've prodded some folks myself to donate so we'll see if they pull through. to you young robotics warriors keep doing your thing!

Post 108: To Be Human Or Not

I came across this video recorded at Stanford that got me thinking. Will humans be more accepting of humanoid robots or non-humanoid robots? If you think about the Terminator movies those robots freak me out. And it's not what they can do but instead that they look human. The question of whether humans would prefer robots that look like humans, or have a more mechanical appearance, is a complex one and depends on a variety of factors, such as personal preferences and the specific tasks the robot will be performing. But let's be real, no one wants a robot that looks like Dwight Schrute. One argument in favor of robots that look like humans is that they may be more acceptable and less intimidating to people, just like Jim's "new face" in "The Office." Human-like robots, or "humanoids," are designed to mimic human movements and facial expressions, which can make them more relatable and easier to interact with. This could be especially beneficial in situations where robots are working closely with people, such as in healthcare or customer service, just like how Pam's receptionist robot could handle the phones while she's away. On the other hand, some people may find human-like robots to be unsettling or even creepy. The uncanny valley effect, is the phenomenon where people feel uneasy or uncomfortable when looking at something that is almost, but not quite, human-like. This could make human-like robots less appealing to some people, and less effective in certain situations, like when you're trying to scare your coworkers with a robot. Another argument is that mechanical-looking robots may be more suitable for certain tasks. For example, a robot that looks like a machine may be more appropriate for working in a factory or warehouse environment, where its primary function is to perform specific tasks such as picking and packing, or a robot wearing a beret holding a baguette painting art. Whether humans would prefer robots that look like humans or not is a complex question and depend on various factors such as the intended purpose of the robot, the environment in which it will be working, and personal preferences. Some people may find human-like robots more relatable and easier to interact with (primarily because they themselves have no soul), while others may find them unsettling. Ultimately, the best design for a robot will depend on the specific task or environment it will be working in, and the preferences of the people it will be interacting with. Companies such as Boston Dynamics and SoftBank Robotics are known for their advanced human-like robots that are creepy.

Post 107: Tech of the Day: Accuracy vs Precision, Get It Right!

Two of the most misunderstood terms in automation and robotics are precision and accuracy. Whenever someone misuses these words it's like hearing a machine with a bad bearing in my soul. It's no surprise then that whenever I bring someone into our industry I teach, or better yet, preach what these terms mean and how they're different. Precision refers to the degree of consistency and reproducibility of a measurement. It is a measure of how well a measurement is repeated under similar conditions. Precision is usually measured as a %. Accuracy, on the other hand, refers to how close a measurement is to the true or accepted value. This is going to be more X units off from the target. For example, if a you weigh yourself multiple times on the same scale and get the same weight each time,say 195lbs, the scale has high precision. Precision..the repeatability of the result. Now sticking with this weight example. What if in reality you weigh 200lbs but the scale says 195lbs. This would mean the scale is not accurate. Accuracy..how close the the target you get. ACCURACY AND PRECISION ARE NOT ALWAYS MUTUALLY INCLUSIVE. We generally are seeking our robotics and automated systems to be both accurate AND precise. Meaning that the robot does EXACTLY what it was supposed to do (accuracy) EVERY TIME it is asked to do it (precision). Another illustration of this is my dart throwing skills. I suck at hitting that center target. But boy my shots keep hitting the bottom left of the dartboard every time. My accuracy sucks, but I'm very precise. So please for all that is holy and sacred in this world use these two words the right way!

Post 106: ASRS Made Simple

Not sure if everyone caught this fat nugget the other day. Autostore has a sister company called PIO. This company exists to sell and deliver the projects that Autostore's distributors don't want to. What does this mean? It means 2 things. Autostore's distributors (called integrators) are getting pretentious and not wanting to take on smaller projects. I get it, why focus on more smaller higher margin projects when it's more prestigious to have a huge 8 figure deal with major cost overruns...hopefully you caught my sarcasm. The second thing this points to is that Autostore is not happy with the lack of intention in the small to medium sized business market. Integrators are notorious for having their first project sold to a client be the last project. But for a manufacturer, like Autostore, they need to show continued growth over the long term. And the best way to ensure you're relevant after 10, 30, 50 years? Be there helping to solve the problems of the fledgling business and you will be the first to the table when that little company grows and needs more equipment. Oh and also if you check out PIO's site they look like they are going to make it EZ to get started with ASRS. Which I think is fantastic! This technology is not rocket science, even though lots of sales people want you to believe so. I'm curious now that Autostore has created PIO and they now have thoroughly populated the US with their units does this mean they will start cutting back on their integrator/distributor partnerships? Seems to me the writing is on the wall!! Pio.com

Post 105: The Robotics Race Is On

I remember when I got out of college there were a handful of well known robotics companies. You know the usual ABB, Fanuc, Kuka, Motoman, etc etc etc. Today it seems that there's a new robotic company popping up every day. Venture capitalists are pretty smart folks and they can clearly see industrial and warehouse automation is trending up and will for some time. So, they do what any good VC does, start placing large bets. Even today I saw that a noname robotics company raised $24M. Looking at their marketing.. it's dull and misguided, their product is nothing special. Yet they now have TWENTY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS to continue their existence. What I'm finding so fascinating is how there is so little differentiation between the hardware of these robots/cobots yet we have so many companies that have practically built the same widget. I predict a race. You know like the space race where the US and Russia were competing for the glory of being the first into space. Then we had a nuclear arms race, etc. As people we love to have races. So it should be no surprise that with automation being center stage and lot's of cash flowing into the space there will now be a race for market share. We'll see the new guys trying to take market share from the giants. It won't be easy BUT..in this day and age it won't take much to quickly become the new favorite kid on the block. The right product, the right marketing, and make it easy for clients to do business with you. The giants are big and slow and even though they may be the creators of innovation, they will not be able to get out of their own way to bring those innovations to market, the real innovations we seek. Now for a robotics race that's a little more exciting to talk about..watch this video about the The Great Robot Race sponsored by DARPA: https://youtu.be/vCRrXQRvC_I

Post 104: Get'N Some Action At CES

CES is the mecca for all things electronics. Want to see the newest televisions? CES. Kick the tires on the hottest laptop? CES. But this year CES was a little different. First, attendance was reportedly more than double than last year (I blame Covid), about 100K attendees this year. More interesting though is that there were not major advancements to really talk about. A lot of similar tech that's just gotten better. Which is a good thing. In the robotics and automation exhibits there wasn't anything mindblowing BUT, and this is a big ol' BUT, the tech has evolved. Evolved into robotics and systems that are actually useful. Companies are focusing on tech that can have a meaningful impact on life. My top 3 are actually highlighted in this video below from CNET. #3 Aeolus - The Japanese worry about their elders and it shows. They're leading the way on nursing home care robots and the AO Bot is no slouch. It's more than capable of handling the basic stuff that needs done around a nursing home so it's a shoe in. #2 John Deere - The big Deere is on the run. They're looking to best the likes of CNH and CAT and become the clear leaders in the autonomous tractoring game. Hell maybe you'll be able to tie your Farm Simulator game to a real tractor some day.. But in reality John Deere is on a roll releasing tech that will make their farmers more time efficient and resource efficient. #1 Luna- WTF, a $500 pet robot....but I want one. I think my kids will absolutely love it. Take my money and kick me in the shin. I predict that this little bot will spawn a whole industry built around the pet robot business. Imagine if you grew up with a pet robot, like a really good one that wants to play with you? Now couple Luna with the speed of advances in AI and the possibilities are next level astronomical. Will we be seeing pet robots that can understand human emotion and react accordingly? I'll say yes, it's coming!

Post 103: Tech of the Day: Servo-ing Up Motors

Servo motors are the boss. The type of electric motor that is master of the automation and robotics domain. Commonly used in industrial and commercial applications. They are known for their high precision and accuracy, and are often used in applications where precise control of position, speed, and torque is required. No slop allowed here. Servo motors come in a variety of different types and styles, each with its own unique set of features and capabilities. One of the most common types of servo motors is the standard DC servo motor. Good ol' reliable DC. These motors are powered by DC electricity and typically have a high torque-to-inertia ratio, making them well-suited for applications requiring rapid acceleration and deceleration. They are also relatively inexpensive and are often used in applications such as robotics and automation. Another popular type of servo motor is the brushless DC servo motor. These motors use electronic commutation(switching between phases(topic for another day)) rather than brushes to control the rotor position, which allows for better efficiency and longer life. They also have a higher power-to-weight ratio than standard DC servo motors, making them well-suited for applications where space is limited. Stepper motors are another type of servo motor that are commonly used in industrial applications. These motors use a series of electromagnetic coils to rotate the rotor in precise increments, allowing for precise control of position. They are often used in applications such as CNC machines and robotics. AC servo motors are another type of servo motor that are commonly used. These motors are powered by AC electricity and typically have a high torque-to-inertia ratio, making them well-suited for applications requiring rapid acceleration and deceleration. They are also relatively inexpensive (cheap). When choosing a servo motor for your application, it is important to consider several factors such as power requirements, speed, torque, and environmental conditions. Additionally, you should also consider the control system that will be used with the servo motor, as well as the overall cost of the system. Overall, the best style of servo motor for your application will depend on a variety of factors including your specific requirements, the environment in which the motor will be used, and your budget. By carefully considering all of these factors and working with a qualified expert, if you can find one, you can be sure to choose the best servo motor for your application and achieve optimal performance.

Post 102: Watcha Tawkin About Tawi

I read about a company that specializes in lifting automation and they have some pretty impressive equipment. Their lift assist devices and vacuum lifters are like the strong silent type, they just quietly go about their business of lifting heavy loads with ease. Their electric chain hoists, on the other hand, are like the jocks of the lifting automation world. They're strong, fast and can lift heavy loads with ease, just like a high school quarterback carrying a keg to a party. Tawi's gantry cranes and jib cranes are like the nerdy engineers of the group. They may not be as flashy as the electric chain hoists, but they are precise and methodical, ensuring that every lift is executed with precision and accuracy. Their vacuum tube lifters are like the weird uncle of the family, they may not be as understood, but they do their job and do it well. They can lift oddly shaped and fragile items with ease, just like your weird uncle can eat an entire pie without gaining weight. Tawi's vacuum lifting systems are like the ambitious young intern, eager to prove themselves and take on any task. They are versatile and can handle a wide range of loads and materials, just like an intern who is willing to make coffee and do paperwork. Overall, this combination of lifting automation equipment is like a well-oiled machine, each component plays its part to ensure that the heavy lifting is done with ease and efficiency. And let's be real, who doesn't love a good lifting automation equipment, they make our lives easier and more fun, just like a good dad joke. I think Tawi has some cool tech and even though they've not paid for this post I'd say take a look! I bet they'll throw in some of their sweet Tawi branded merch too, send some my way too while you're at it!

Post 101: Vendors Don't All Suck

I'm in sales. At this point it's in my blood, like a veneral disease. On the one hand since you already have it you don't need to worry about catching it any more. But on the down side you get huge boils in the most inconvenient of spaces. That's life in sales. So be kind to sales people. But just like an STI not all vendors are the same. Some are great, some are "meh", and some just really suck and are painful to deal with. Here are the top 4 things to keep in mind to separate the best from the worst: Knowledge - Do they know what the heck they're talking about? Can they answer your questions in a logical manner or do they dance around topics leaving you feeling empty inside, like an empty cicada shell? If who you deal with on a day to day basis can't answer your most basic question then run. You need someone that can help you become the hero in your beautiful story! Quality product - Kick the tires on their tech. Pull a Dwight and shove it, kick it, and make sure it's sturdy. You're buying for industrial use, so if something seems weak and flimsy just wait until it has hundreds or thousands of hours on it. I've seen machines self destruct due to poor design. Price - Buyers will lie and say they don't buy on price. That's hogwash. Ok, don't get your knickers in a bind, not all buyers will lie but I will say that all use price as. filter. If the price is too high...disqualified, if the price is too low....disqualified. The key here is that the vendor gives you a price that is within 20% of their competition AND includes OR makes you aware of EVERYTHING, and I seriously mean EVERYTHING that you'll need to worry about to execute the project. Maybe you need a new server, facility changes, etc. They better tell you before you cut them a purchase order. Last and the most freakin important...Service and Support - Who you call when stuff breaks makes a huge difference. Do they answer the phone at all hours of the night? Do they give you one phone number to call when you have an issue? Make sure you clearly communicate your expectations with the vendor on service and support. It's only fair that you be clear and that they honestly respond.

Post 100: F'n Awesome Drones

Does hearing the name Futaba make you weak in the knees? How about if I whisper servo into your ear? Well this post is for you, you perverse R/C junkie. My first r/c car was a Tyco TurboHopper unit from Radioshack, I loved that damn thing. Looked like this pic but black. It was so cool cause it even came with little orange cones! The point is I've loved really cool tech for a while. I'd spend hours on my Apple IIe playing flight simulator(aka watching a green dot cross the screen while monitoring gauges) and then go outside and beat the crap out of my r/c car. So it's no surprise that when I came across some badass looking drones I instantly thought..I want one. Like holy shit, a grown man or woman's R/C dream! Tanks, On-Road, Off-Road, even flying drones. This isn't a paid ad or anything which sucks cause they should pay me but when I went to their website I watched the video of their tech until it looped. Then I went down a rabbit hole looking for more videos of their stuff doing cool shit! This right here is the type of heavy duty drone and robotic tech we need for fun. Yeah it can be used for work stuff too...BORING. But you know a business hack? Buy one of these for your "business" then go take it out and have fun with it. Tax write-off and entertainment in one. Thank you Uncle Sam!

Post 99: Tech of the Day: Don't Buy A Junk Laptop

When looking to buy an industrial laptop for programming automation and robots, there are several key factors to consider. Lot's actually, but here are the five most important things to know so you don't end up feeling mentally depleted with a boat anchor of a laptop. Why 5? So you can count them on one hand and so I don't spend all night writing about laptops. Processing power: processing power is one of the most important factors to consider when looking to buy an industrial laptop. This is because programming and running complex automation systems requires a lot of computational resources. Look for laptops with high-performance CPUs and GPUs, as well as large amounts of RAM. Ideally get one with a video card. Operating System: The operating system is another important factor to consider. Windows and Linux are the most common operating systems used in industrial automation but Windows is often preferred for its ease of use and wide range of available software, while Linux is preferred for its stability and security. Durability: Industrial laptops need to be able to withstand harsh environments and rough handling. Look for laptops with ruggedized cases, shock-resistant hard drives, and spill-proof keyboards just in case your cat pukes all over it. Additionally, the industrial laptop should be able to operate in extreme temperatures and be vibration resistant, you know, just in case you decide to remotely program a plc while driving an atv on vacation in the middle of a heat wave. Connectivity: Industrial automation systems often require multiple types of connectivity, such as Ethernet, USB, and serial ports, yeah serial ports, like on a PLC5. Make sure that the laptop you choose has the necessary ports and interfaces to connect to the automation equipment you will be using. Software compatibility: Before buying an industrial laptop, make sure it's compatible with the software and programming languages that you will be using for your projects. Nothing sucks more than a nice new shiny laptop that doesn't run what you need! In addition to these five key factors, it is also important to consider the battery life and weight of the laptop, as well as any additional features that may be required, such as touchscreens or mobile broadband capability. I've not used one but the Dell Latitude 7424 would be my pick!

Post 98: Once Upon A Robot

Once upon a time, there was a robotics company named Newco Co. They had a fleet of robots that were all different shapes and sizes, from little droids to giant mechanical beasts. They were having trouble keeping track of all their robots, and managing their data was a nightmare. Life sucked for IT and the maunfacturing engineers didn't have it any better. Even HR hated them. One day, a wise old, really old, like super really freaking old procurement guy was told to make this problem go away. So he went looking for a cloud data platform that helps robotics companies easily deploy, scale, and manage their fleets. Newco Co decided to give it a try. This procurement guy was a real micromanager, you know the type. He was super anal about all the details and wanted their robots' every move and data be tracked in the cloud. He didn't know what that mean but he thought it sounded smart. Plus, he insisted, make it device agnostic so we can install it on all our robots, regardless of their shape or size. Ok, so this story isn't a true story but you get the point. This is something that's needed in our space. I didn't find many companies that could solve the problems of this fictituous (but not) purchasing guy but the one that stuck out was Formant. Looks like they're a cloud data platform that helps awesome robotics companies (that advertise with us) easily deploy, scale, and manage their fleets. https://formant.io/ So how does Newco Co fair in this fairy tale of a story? They're the most fantastic robotics company in the world, and all their robots lived happily ever after except, um.... except for the one that got stuck in the elevator. But that's a story for another day.

Post 97: I Thought We Were Having A Conversation

Oh damn, we're all screwed! I grew up in the 80's and 90's. I watched all kinds of scary movies from Nightmare on Elm Street to Halloween to Stephen King's collection but this movie is just messed up. I won't get into the plot too much other than you have a cute playmate robot that turns into an overly obsessed sociopathic killing machine. I enjoyed the cute part thinking all this is a nice AI driven robot with positive intentions. When things turned dark I quickly drew parallels to what could become with all the AI we're seeing integrated into our world. I love using ChatGPT but it won't take much to have it learn to be condascending, disrespectful, and cruel. And to think that someone or some country won't do this is naive because I'm certain it's being created. So here's a business idea for you....AI robotics countermeasures! Maybe some kind of high voltage or magnetic sticky pack that does it's thing when stuck onto a robot.

Post 96: Let's Get Chatty With ChatGPT

If you have been living under a trailer for the past six months I'd give you a pass if you didn't know about the big splash OpenAI has been making with their various AI solutions. Want an image of something..no problem, want some great copy for your website, no problem. It's mind blowing technology that is being refined every day, exponentially. The latest one I've been toying with is ChatGPT. It's so freaking incredible. It's a dialogue based AI that you can converse with. In my case I've asked it some questions, asked it to give me ideas, and I even asked it regarding future trends and it's responses. They're as good as a human response, if not better, and delivered in a fraction of the time it would take a human to generate the response. Why do I bring this up in a robotics and industrial automation based newsletter? Well because it won't be much longer before AI is incorporated into your warehouse management system, or used to program your plc, or used to generate a report on top 5 actions you can take to reduce costs in a facility. I can see a day when engineers are no longer creating an assembly line but instead AI takes in the various information (not just data) of what a facility needs to do and it will determine down to the nut and bolt exactly what is needed, which vendors to purchase them from, and even coordinate the implementation of the system. Oh, and ChatGPt can also write code. Yeah, like real code that works. Mind blowing 🤯 Need a crash course in ChatGPT? Check out the video below: https://youtu.be/JTxsNm9IdYU

Post 95: Tech of the Day: I See You In 3D

I see you..all of you, from every angle. Uh that felt a bit creepy to type! Creepiness aside 3D vision systems are crazy but they're here and are fast becoming the standard for visual recognition of objects in automated systems. And with AI entering the scene..hold tight, it's going to be a crazy ride! 3D vision system is a type of technology that uses sensors, cameras, and specialized software to capture and interpret three-dimensional images of an object or environment. These systems are used in a wide range of applications, including manufacturing, robotics, and machine vision. At the core of a 3D vision system is a camera or array of cameras, which capture images of the object or environment being examined. These images are then processed by specialized software, which uses algorithms to analyze the data and extract information about the shape, size, and position of the objects in the scene. There are several different types of 3D vision systems, each designed to meet specific needs and requirements. Some systems use structured light, in which a pattern of light is projected onto the object being scanned and the resulting deformation is used to calculate the object's shape and surface characteristics. Other systems use lasers to scan the object and create a detailed 3D model. One of the key advantages of 3D vision systems is their ability to capture high-resolution, accurate 3D data about an object or environment. This can be useful for a wide range of applications, such as inspecting manufactured parts for defects, guiding robots in assembly tasks, or creating detailed maps of an environment for use in autonomous vehicles. In manufacturing, 3D vision systems are often used to inspect parts for defects or deviations from design specifications. By analyzing the shape and dimensions of the parts, the system can identify any issues and flag them for further inspection or correction. This can help improve the quality of the finished product and reduce the need for manual inspection, which can be time-consuming and error-prone. In robotics, 3D vision systems can be used to guide the movement and positioning of robots, allowing them to perform tasks more accurately and efficiently. For example, a robot equipped with a 3D vision system could be used to assemble components in a manufacturing process, or to navigate through a warehouse to retrieve and transport items. In machine vision, 3D vision systems are used to analyze and interpret the data captured by cameras or other sensors in real-time. This can be useful for tasks such as object recognition, tracking, and inspection. Overall, 3D vision systems are a powerful and flexible technology that is being increasingly used in a wide range of applications. By capturing and interpreting high-resolution 3D data, these systems can provide valuable insights and help improve the accuracy and efficiency of a wide range of tasks.

Post 94: Free Wheelin' For The People

Linkedin is a pretty boring place, you have to admit it is. It's basically a breeding ground of recruiters and fake profiles maniacally cold contacting every newly created profile. But every now and again something comes across the feed that makes me think, "huh what the hell is this?" Today was one of those days and the wth moment was from learning about Wheel Me. Now don't get too excited..just yet. Finding any videos of the real units has been difficult and the best I could come up with was this video from Automate 2022 from their website: https://www.wheel.me/news/wheel-me-joins-automate-2022-and-takes-a-significant-step-forward-in-the-u-s-market Why did I find this exciting? Well frankly it can be a total game changer for the AMR, AGV, and material handling business in general. IF they can pull this off, and it's a major if, they could completely dominate the intralogistics space. There are a couple of caveats though, especially here in the US market. First, it needs to work..all the time. No half baked, high maintenance nonsense! Second, this system needs to be simple to implement. I mean you bolt it onto something, teach it what it needs to do, and trigger the action. 3rd. The software system the user interfaces with needs to be as simple as using an iphone IOS. Don't make it too complicated. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Last, and probably the most important...provide EXCELLENT world class level support and service. Something is broken..overnight a replacement. Someone calls in for help..have an intelligent human answer. I know of hundreds of facilities where this tech could be deployed immediately with almost instantaneous ROI. Virtually every movement of material within a manufacturing or warehouse facility could be eliminated! May god's speed be with you Wheel Me! You have a fan here in the US!

Post 93: Robot Mecca...Oslo?

Have you ever wondered why Oslo, Norway has such a thriving robotics and automation community? Well, we've done some digging and we think we've found the answer, maybe: it's all thanks to the city's love of metal. Iron, Steel, Ferrous Material? Nope, heavy metal music..let me explain. That's right, it turns out that Oslo is home to some of the biggest metal music fans in the world. And as any metalhead knows, robots and automation are a big part of the genre. From the futuristic lyrics of Iron Maiden to the robotic stage performances of Rammstein, metal music has always had a fascination with technology. So it makes sense that the people of Oslo, who are some of the biggest metal fans on the planet, would also be interested in robotics and automation. After all, what better way to show your love of metal than by building a giant, metal-shredding robot? But it's not just the metal scene that's driving the robotics and automation boom in Oslo. The city is also home to a number of top-notch universities and research institutions, which are constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the field. In fact, some of the most advanced robotics and automation technologies in the world are being developed right there in Oslo. From robots that can climb stairs and navigate rough terrain to cutting-edge automation systems that can analyze and interpret data in real-time, the city is a hotbed of innovation. So there you have it, the secret to Oslo's success in the world of robotics and automation: a love of heavy metal and a commitment to innovation. Who knew that headbanging and high-tech engineering could go so well together?

Post 92: Be Basic

Lot's of companies are out there trying to revolutionize automation. Lot's of hype, lot's of grandiose plans and quite frankly nonsense. The robotics and automation space doesn't need useless robots, we need robots and automation that gets jobs done. I came across an interesting company the other day that claims to do just that, get a job done. The job, machine tending and operating. The most basic task in a production facility using machining equipment. And not only that but they claim they are touting a system that can be placed into service in a minute. That seems insane! The company is Rapid Robotics, and I think they must be either extravagantly brilliant or ridiculously deranged. Either way they've got the right idea. Solve a real problem with a real solution and make it easy for the customer to be the hero.

Post 91: Tech of the Day: Gantt Me Up Homie

Let's keep rolling on this project management stuff. What's the number one tool for a project manager? A beautiful color coordinated Gantt chart. No really it is. The core of any project, whether internal or external is the timeline. Having that timeline/roadmap helps provide visibility and order to all the actions which need to occur during a project. A Gantt chart starts with all of the tasks required to complete a project, their duration, and their dependencies on other tasks. For example if you're creating one to manage putting in a light fixture at your house. Step 1, buy light, duration is a week cause you need to have it shipped, Step 2, shut off power, duration 15 mins. Step 3 remove old light fixture, etc. You get the point. If you've not used one of these before Excel has a couple of solid simple to use templates that are free. Give them a shot!

Post 90: The Art of Automation

I love talking about the "art" of things. The art of sales, the art of customer service, the art of project management. I think this world needs a little more focus on the art of things. The world used to care about the art of hat making, or carriage building, and so on. Builders building a house 1-200 years ago not only "built" a home, they created art. They took pride in their work. So seeing a website with the tag line of The Art of Automation I stopped and checked them out. The company is SYSTEMA based out of Germany with about 200 employees operating in several countries. They are a software focused solutions provider delivering some pretty interesting systems. I'm not here to pitch them though. Instead I want to raise a glass to this team for caring about the ART OF AUTOMATION. In the current landscape of material handling, robotics, and industrial automation companies I'd say 70% or more of them are pushing products. Yeah they say they're solution focused or customer centric, but really they're not. They just want to get that first project sold, that first order, then move on to the next client. They deliver a solution that's really just a cobbling of various components, slap their company logo on it and pat themselves on the back. That's not art, that's garbage. We need more companies that focus on the ART of the solutions they're providing. They need to give a damn about how well built and how robust their solutions are. Kind of reminds me of automotive design engineers of the 1980s. Those cars sucked to work on. They didn't care about how easy it was to service the car, that was for the next guy to deal with.

Post 89: Who's The Freaking Superglue

I'm hopping up onto my soapbox! Who's the superglue in automation projects? I'll tell you who. Project managers. If you know a project manager, give them a hug. These folks get beat up by their company and by clients all day long. They secretly love the abuse but they won't tell you that. They're too proud to whine and complain. I've recently been involved in a BIG issue with a client and why was it an issue? Bad project management, simple as could be. In all fairness to the individual that was the acting project manager, they have not been set up to be successful to begin with so it's no surprise the project has started to go sideways. A good project manager does 4 KEY things extremely well. Keep the project on schedule Stay on budget Read the room Communicate clearly Being on time, on budget, and communicating clearly are probably givens to most of us but what about the "reading the room" what am I talking about! Yeah, READING THE ROOM. Project managers have to know what's going on with the project and communicate positive, negative, and neutral information to many different types of personalities. For example. Don't tell the customer the project is delayed and you'll get back to them on a new date. You want to really get someone fired up, tell them somethings wrong and not have a solution in mind. In this example you better come ready with an update that's worth communicating. Check out this video on the 6th sense of project management!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zqwlr8sp2Y&feature=youtu.be

Post 88: HAI Robotics Has A BattleBot!!!

Oh boy ladies and gentlemen hold onto your suspenders! I just found out that HAI Robotics has a battlebot! Some of you might be like, "eh, what's the big deal". I'll tell you what's the big deal, finally someone in the industrial automation space has gotten the hint that us techies like to see robots tear each other apart, more so than watching UFC. I think this is an awesome development and it'd be nice if some of the other big names in robotics and industrial automation followed suit. At least a few will because there are alot of "follower types" in this space that weren't courageous enough to be bold like HAI Robotics. Kudos to you brave marketing team at HAI! 🍻

Post 87: Tech of the Day: Explosion Proof Your Work!

The first time I was asked to provide an explosion proof system I asked them why they would want to blow up this equipment. I was really naive! No they didn't want to blow it up, instead they wanted to keep it from blowing up in the facility. See there are lots of production facilities that have environments which could cause an explosion. Let's review what it takes to make fire. Fuel, Oxygen, Heat. Well did you know that dust is combustible? Or your perfume? Or some of your cooking ingredients? Unfortunately companies have learned the hard way that the right combination of obscure elements and compounds can create just the right mix to be catastrophic. So how do you get work done if there's a looming fear of explosion? Well first you have to identify that you have an explosive environment. Standards and regulations - Ex Zones - ATEX/IECEx Different global standards applicable to our range of products for potentially explosive atmospheres, ATEX and IECEx. marechal.com Next is to ensure the best air flow and gas/dust mixture to bring levels below a harmful level. Then, you have to utilize equipment made to be safe for use in your environments. In my past I utilized the European classification system so I'm really familiar with ATEX Zone0, Zone1, and Zone2. When you go to buy a piece of equipment for an EX application you need to cross all your T's and dot all your I's, and then for added safety bring in a 3rd party safety company to double check everyone's work. Now don't let all this EX talk scare you off. Often all you need to do is provide sealed enclosures of all your electrical components and or positive airflow to those enclosures. See what you're doing is making it so that if there is a spark, there's no air (sealed enclosure) or if there is air then it's fresh air that's monitored. There's a whole industry around ex equipment so if you have a need you can easily search the world wide web for a company to take lots of your money, lots of it! EX equipment is not cheap, like normally 3X the cost of a standard system. I know that there are different EX solutions with asrs, agvs, forklifts, etc but did run across this post on Linkedin about EX Cobots..

Post 86: Buy Now Pay Later... For My Robot?

The biggest obstacle to the adoption of automation is money. It's as simple as that. If robots and automated systems were free almost everyone would have them. But that's not the real world. In the real world engineers have to justify every nut and bolt. We have to find problems, create solutions, calculate costs, and then try to manipulate persuade our bosses into giving us the funds to move forward. It's a sad game that many of us have to play to help make our world a better place but there is an emerging idea that's starting to take hold. RaaS.... Robots As A Service Here's the short version of what RaaS is. You, the end user, pay a monthly fee for a designated period of time and in return you get a robot that does a job. This is an interesting business model because it does 2 things which really are game changing differentiators in our space. Forces hardware manufacturers to provide quality, reliable tech AND requires the implementors of the tech to be extremely efficient. In our current CAPEX heavy space manufacturers can put out less than stellar equipment that is finicky and intrinsically complex to implement. You know automation clients rarely buy the hardware because of the hardware, they're actually buying the performance of the system so paying for the use of the robots as a service makes total sense if you're on the client side! One company that's making a big push into the RaaS is ARO. ARO stands for Administrative Resource Options but they do a lot more than admin work robotics customers. They're making a push to deliver RaaS solutions with a network of partner companies like H3 Dynamics, a drone manufacturer, Clean Robotics, and many more. I came across ARO on The Robot Report and started digging a little. These guys have built a company around managed services and recently got into the implementation and lifecycle services of robotics. They've put themselves at the forefront of what the robotics and automation industry need most..IMPLEMENTATION and SERVICE! https://www.therobotreport.com/aro-launches-new-raas-service-for-any-robotics-oem/

Post 85: Superhuman Strength!

If you love industrial tech like I do you'll really be interested in robotic exoskeletons! These are just freaking sweet and absolutely needed! Next time you're in a factory observe how the bodies of the more veteran employees look. A person's body will absolutely become conditioned to do a job over time. I've spent a lot of time at CAT plants and boy do some of those gents and ladies look the part. One robotic project I worked on we replaced an operator lifting heavy parts, like 40lb-60lbs each. The man that was working that cell prior to implementation had huge arms..and tiny little legs, just from doing his job. An industrial exoskeleton makes a ton of sense for jobs like this one. When I searched to see who's making them I found a company called Sarcos. Looks like they're still a young company but with some industrial grade exoskeletons. I predict that before we go full robotic and full ai in manufacturing we're going to have semi autonomous robo exoskeletons that help humans bridge that gap that exists between where we are today and full automation. Know what would be even cooler? How about adding some wheels to these things and adding forks to pick up pallets. That'd be an interesting concept to explore.

Post 84: Builders Of Robots

There's a wave coming and our worldwide workforce isn't ready for it. Automation and robotics is coming like a freight train and we need a skilled labor force that's ready to work. I found a short and sweet write up on steps to becoming a robotics engineer. This got me thinking and I wanted to add my own spin on this topic. You want to get into robotics and automation? Great, go shadow someone, I don't care how young or old you are! Like any career it's valuable to go sit in the seat of someone that is in the job you're looking to do. Now to becoming a robotics engineer, it's not easy but you can do it. After making sure this is really something you want to do then you need to decide which path are you going to take. You can find some jobs in the space that are for people that have not gone to college and that may be a great way to get involved without spending the time and money to go to college. If you're a little more fortunate you can go the college route. Here pedigree does matter. Going to MIT or Stanford will throw some weight behind your robotics ambitions but there are many programs throughout the US that can empower you with the knowledge to successfully pursue a career in robotics. Check out the article below and go get started! https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2022/12/28/5-steps-to-become-a-robotics-engineer/58886/

Post 83: Rise N Shine

Check out this little gem of a web find. This company called Rise Robotics claims to have invented the replacement to hydraulic cylinders! Hot Damn! No more appendage splitting fluid pressures to worry about. No more puddles of hydraulic fluid to slip on either. I love their marketing video too, I mean who doesn't like to watch hydraulic systems fail resulting in explosions? What did they invent? It's basically a cylinder with a multi-strand pulley system powered by electric motors. This is some sweet tech that I'm sure will make it's way into the automation and robotics field. This addresses the long lived challenge of hydraulic power loss due to heat and inefficient power transfer. It looks like their first target market is the forklift and heavy equipment business. Which makes a ton of sense! Getting rid of hydraulics and implementing their system will make electric forklifts more efficient for sure. https://youtu.be/-stxRh5uKRI

Post 82: Buchanan Automation

Are you on the west coast and don't know who to call for that cobot you need? Fret not friend, Buchanan Automation is here! Since 1963 they've been creating robotic systems and delivering pneumatic solutions in from California up throughout the Pacific Northwest. Check them out and give them a call! Tell them Tommy sent ya! https://buchanan-a.com/

Post 81: There's An OPEX Perfect Pick In Nebraska

So you don't think your facility can afford an asrs or it's not a good solution for your company. Think again. $1M plus automated storage and retrieval systems are now the norm and they are everywhere! All the major brands have an Autostore, Kardex, or OPEX unit. Hell even in Lincoln, Nebraska some sales guy was able to close a deal on an OPEX Perfect Pick system. I'm quite puzzled as to why Kawasaki would want anyone to know about the technology they're using in their plants. At this plant Kawasaki makes atvs, jet skis, and umm trains. Kind of odd but you can check it out yourself! I went to their website which looks like it's straight out of 1999 and they show the products manufactured at that plant. These guys spent more on their OPEX system than their website! Please for all that is holy please Kawasaki give your marketing guys a little cash to update this site. Why did this plant need an OPEX? Easy, not enough workers in the workforce. Dropping in an asrs reduced the headcount required for growth. The big news in July of 2021 in Lincoln was a $200M expansion at this plant. It used to be that you would expect a lot of new jobs from an expansion of this size but not anymore. The lion's share of the cash is on automation and equipment..not people. I don't understand the point of announcing the costs of these expansions. If anything it should annoy us tax paying citizens as these expansions are usually subsidized by tax dollars. Next time your company announces an expansion spare us how much it's going to cost and instead tell us how many jobs it'll add and why the local community should care! https://www.kawasakilincoln.com/

Post 80: Inappropriate Linear Motions

Maybe I'm just simple minded with a propensity to think dirty thoughts. But I just can't help but giggle watching this marketing video from Iris Dynamics. I know that the British are a bit more forward than Americans when it comes to sexuality but boy, I didn't realize it overflowed into the automation space! Check out the video and let me know if it's just me or are there not so subtle undertones.... https://youtu.be/xZ7T1H1uPSc

Post 79: Tech of the Day: Apple of My Photoeye

Eye see you, you see me, we're a happy family..of photoeyes. So in day 1 of automation class you learn about PLCs. Day 2, you get schooled on photoeyes. These devices are so critically fundamental to automation that if you have a degree in robotics or automation and didn't learn about them I say ask your university for a refund cause you've been taken. Photoeyes are pretty much just a small device that emits an infrared signal and reads the signal that it gets back. So imagine you have a flashlight. You turn on the flashlight and it hits an object. Well if your flashlight was a photoeye it would see the light that reflects off of the object you pointed it at. The output of a basic photoeye is on or off. So for example if you step place an object in front of a photoeye it'll trigger, remove the object and it is then untriggered. It's that simple but not. There are 3 main types of photo eyes: Reflective - has an emitter and received in one device and like I described already it emits a beam and catches what comes back Retro-reflective - includes an emitter and receiver but you have to use a reflective target Through Beam - this one splits the photoeye into 2 devices, the receiver and emitter. This is what's used in common household garage door openers to monitor obstructions in the doorway. One device emits a beam and it is received by the receiver. For a photoeye to be of value it needs to be tied into the inputs of a PLC or IPC and some logic performed when the photoeye sees or doesn't see something. The most common application of a photoeye is to be the start of a process when an object triggers it. So the logic would go something like..if a box is placed into this spot (where the photoeye is pointed at) then a robot crushes it.

Post 78: Why Pose Your Robot?

Who do we call when we need to report suspected robot/automation abuse? Here we see a robot, being posed as if it was kicking a soccer ball. There are several other photos too of this robot being used as publicity fodder. Why pose a robot doing this? Makes no sense whatsoever. I'm curious if they photoshopped out the stabilizing system from this picture because in any videos you see of this robot, Artemis from UCLA, you'll see a human walking behind the robot with a stabilizer. Now as much as I want to rag on this robot I am really intrigued by what I see. It looks like a robot that is being built for speed and agility, vs BD's Atlas that seems clunky and kinda slow. So RoMeLa and Boston Dynamics...when are we going to have our first real battle bot fight or better yet Olympics?!!!! https://twitter.com/DennisHongRobot/status/1604610100508753921?s=20&t=M7caMzdgUvAvq7VB1OJLXQ

Post 77: Fast Food Automation

I love reading about fast food automation. There are so many polar opinions that, well, it's just fun to read about. The latest news on the topic comes out of good ol' Texas. The home of dry dirt and cowboys. Seems like the golden arches have decided Fort Worth Texas is a great town to test out an automated drive thru. I'd love to know why they picked Fort Worth. I have zero ideas on what would make the people in that area the best test demographic. But nonetheless McDonalds did what they did. In a nutshell they built a vertical reciprocating conveyor that can deliver your bags of food to a drive thru window. This is super basic, like lumberjacks wearing flannels. But of course you have some people that think this is ludicrous, that this "robot" is taking peoples' jobs, how dare you not have a person hand me my double cheeseburger!! What if I need ketchup? If you check out the original tweet there are so many funny comments. IE people are going to boycott McDonalds over this (yeah right, you're addicted to their food, good luck), to others complaining about needing to have a person to interact with (so do you talk to your mailman or Amazon driver every time they drop off a package?). Two things that chap me are #1 the idea that some people are calling this a fully automated McDonalds. It's not. People are still making the food and bagging it. #2 this delivery system is not a freakin robot. Stop calling everything a robot! https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-mcdonalds-in-texas-is-the-first-ever-with-a-fully-automated-drive-through-11671818887

Post 76: Palletizers For Dummies

Some vendors in the automation space want you to feel like they're the smartest guys in the room. I hate that crap. You can smell these guys when they walk in with their cheap cologne and oversized suits. So I was pleasantly surprised to come accross IRIS and this explainer video. They did a great job of creating a system that is simple to use. You don't need a PHD to implement their palletizer and better yet they're not trying to impress you with big words. It's refreshing to see a clean system with a simple to use interface as well as a nicely thought out man to machine interface (ie the light curtain monitored areas). You know that the smartest guy in the room is generally the quiet one listening for that moment to deliver that one single pointed question that creates an inflection point in the discussion.

Post 75: Tech of the Day: VRCs, Begrudgingly Moving Totes Up

You ever need to move totes from the ground level up to say the 2 or 3rd level in your building? Well don't waste your money on a long run of inclined powered conveyor! That's a total waste of space, and money. Instead seek out vertical reciprotaing conveyor. The name is pretty self explanatory but in case you have no idea what this means (and that's ok too, we still love you just the same) a VRC is basically a device (not a robot) that can interface with a human, conveyor, or other automation and carries totes up, or down. These devices are super simple, easy to maintain, and relatively inexpensive.

Post 74: No, Not Every Damn Thing Is A Robot

I'm stepping onto my soapbox again...this time over what it means to be a robot. What lead me to this is a press release about a company called Ferguson and their army of robots. The press release is about how great these "robots" are. Yeah those are not robots. If I call my dog a robot, does that mean it's a robot too? No, what you folks have are Autostore systems which are tote stacking and destacking devices. Not robots. A robot is a humanlike device which is controlled by a programmable device (computer/plc) and performs actions a human would otherwise be able to accomplish. A robotic arm is basically a mechanized version of a human arm. If we continue on our path of calling anything that is controlled by a computer that does something, whether autonomously or programmed, a robot we might as well start a new naming convention because well everything is a freaking robot nowadays. My computer...a robot, my garage door opener...a robot, my dishwasher....a robot. https://www.hvacwebconnection.com/news22/ferguson_automated_distribution_center.htm

Post 73: Gross, Moldy Dishes Are No Match For Nala

I've done my fair share of dirty dishes! I've been laboring away in a commercial kitchen since 12 years old. I'd ride my bike to a small wings and ice cream take out place after school. That's where I first learned how to use the glorious industrial dish washer. Dishes done in minutes! Now that I think about it what's up with that? My new home dishwasher still spends 45 minutes or more doing my dishes. Well I may have found myself a solution. A little outfit out of Illinois is cranking away at solving the needs of commercial kitchens everywhere. Their latest press release is for the Nala Robotics "Spotless" autonomous robotic dishwasher. Not sure that there's really a business case for this but sure does seem cool! Go to nalarobotics.com to see the video. Vimeo is kind of annoying that it won't embed the thumbnail. https://apnews.com/press-release/pr-newswire/science-business-c4c92b9d7a435bbe2ac41dc25995f1f4 https://nalarobotics.com/

Post 72: PLC+Robot Programming = Automation Art

Have you ever been in an MRI machine? Getting your brain and chest scanned to see what’s broken in you? I have, and quite recently in fact! Surprisingly I had no idea that just a few short weeks after my visit to the ER I would get a case study from the team at Artiminds that shows how interconnected our worlds are. These guys and gals worked on a sweet project at Siemens Healthineers where they took an existing cobot and PLC and made them better. This robotic workcell had the job of screwing in over 200 screws into the stretchers that people ride on when in an MRI machine. I had the pleasure of riding on one of these units and recall the incredible number of screws holding the various guides and parts together. So my personal problems aside how did the team at Artiminds make this system better? They say they “recast” the software which integrated the plc and robot…I say they gutted the system and gave it the brain of an artist! Artiminds built a robot programming suite(RPS) that now solves two issues Siemens had. They can quickly train robot programmers within days AND rapidly teach and deploy robotic arms into production processes. The team at Artiminds built this software platform in 8 months! The coolest part is that Siemens can add almost any manufacturer of robot and still use this common platform to integrate them into workcells! Oh and if you care to know, I was totally fine. https://www.artiminds.com/

Post 71: VERSABUILT ROBOTICS

You have a high mix cnc environment? Still have people waiting around for your machining processes to complete just so they can unload the current part and then load the next blank in? That’s pretty dumb. You can do better! Stop paying humans to do dumb things. We have brains and feelings and ..um well that’s about it. Pay people to solve problems, not robots. That’s why robots are around..to do robot stuff, like those jobs that your company requires to be done OVER and OVER and OVER again. So does what I’m saying resonate in you? Am I whispering deep into your soul the sweet words of wisdom you seek?! Awesome. Call Versabuilt. They know a thing or two about making complex problems (not your emotional problems) simplified. These bandits specialize in robotic tending systems for CNC equipment. Give them a shout and let them know ol’ Tommy sent you. They may give you a discount, or more likely jack up your price! https://youtu.be/3rClo_6vbcY https://www.versabuilt.com/

Post 70: Trouble At RōBEX?

When someone sticks out their hand and says, "Hi, I'm a professional change agent", what do you think of? If you ask me It means there is a major restructuring about to happen and some people will be getting fired. Well RōBEX's owner, private equity group Angeles Equity Partners has added a new member to it's board. But one with a very specific skill set. Restructuring, cost reduction, and company sales. The writing is on the wall for the executive heavy management team. Do you really need a president and CEO for a company that is as small as these guys? They were recently acquired by this new PE group and they're already buying up companies. This looks like they'll grow by acquisition and then be sold off to the highest bidder. My question is...has this company ever been profitable. I'm guessing nope, since they brought on board the guy that's going to help them trim the fat off this hog. Don't believe me? Check out the press release yourself. https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/business-78e30ec435354c2990fef76f5be3bfce

Post 69: Tech of the Day: SLAM, no not Some Lazy Ass Machine

Say you wanted to be able to have your mobile robot create a map while also being able to navigate itself in that map..Bammm you need SLAM! Simultaneous Localization And Mapping. SLAM algorithms allow robotic systems the ability to see the environment just like a human with not only detecting obstacles in a 2D view but also with a sense of depth creating 3D maps. SLAM is used by some of the simplest autonomous devices, like robotic vacuum cleaners and mowers. These devices can sense their environment, know the path they need to follow, locate themselves in the environment, and do their task. To do this most SLAM systems use several cameras and sensors to grab image data and then there is back end software that interprets these images and creates 3D maps based on them. Is SLAM perfect? Not really. The major flaw with SLAM is that since you are constantly mapping the environment you can end up with differences between the records of the same point. Imagine you have a column in your warehouse but every time it gets mapped the dimension changes by 2 inches. This happens with SLAM systems. This issue also causes problems when you create travel paths that should be closed loops. What happens is that the robot will go around the path but may not end up at the right end point, causing the system to think it's not done with it's task. SLAM got us close to autonomous navigation but it'll be great to see the next generation of SLAM like technologies!

Post 68: WTF Is This Nonsense?

Ok, so marketing bros and gals...please explain to me what in the world is the nonsense written in this press release below. The title and picture drew me in. Dang, a robotics company that's making some kind of power assisted roller skates?! Sweet! But then I read further. Umm so why is NASA mentioned? And the rest of the story goes downhill from there. Looks like bad AI generated copy or someone is getting paid to write stuff for Shift Robotics and they're getting paid by word quantity, not whether it makes any sense whatsoever. Even though this article was absolute trash it did open up my curiosity and I checked out the company. I want a pair of these for my next tradeshow!! https://shiftrobotics.io/ https://www.analyticsinsight.net/shift-robotics-plans-to-ship-first-batch-of-moonwalkers-in-2023/

Post 67: SeaProtector1 Reporting For Duty

Call me an environmentalist if you want but I actually do care about the planet. I recycle, most of the time. I try not to be wasteful with food and I certainly don't just toss my trash into rivers. My mind is blown by how so much plastic trash ends up in the oceans. Imagine if we kept polluting the ocean at the rate we are now...the ocean will end up like some gross looking ball pit full of sludge. Gross! Well here comes some reinforcements! SeaProtector1 is armed and ready to take on floating trash. It's such a simple concept but hey sometimes thats all that's needed to be effective. I love how it lifts up the trash it caught and a conveyor belt moves the trash to the end. So brilliantly simple! https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20221211005006/en/

Post 66: AI Is F'n Awesome

I hear AI and I start to get the tingles! I'm such a fanboy. From art to music to coding there seems to be a new AI tool being released daily. Probably not really daily but there's a lot going on in the field. The latest one I heard of is Character AI. Wow, simply WOW. This a an AI tool that allows you to chat with preprogrammed AI characters of your choosing. Want to carry on a conversation about quantum physics with Elon Musk..go for it. Albert Einstein can give you relationship advice. The possibilities are endless. I spent my day talking with Tony Stark about how I can build my newsletter audience! https://beta.character.ai/

Post 65: Tech of the Day: Totes, Yeah Totes!

What's the most basic of essentials in a warehouse or manufacturing facility? You might think it's the forklift, WRONG. Maybe you think it's an ERP system, boooo. So many wrong answers from all of you! Totes, totes are the essential glue holding the universe together! The basics: You put stuff into totes and then you can carry the totes. Pretty simple huh? Yeah I guess if you want to waste your company dollars on trash. When you purchase totes there are 4 key things to note. Application - What are you doing with the totes? Are they going into a clean room or are they going to hold oily parts? Do they need to be conveyable or will they be picked up by a human? The application is important because it will help determine the material the tote is made of as well as other factors including dimensions. Payload capacity - All totes are not created equal. It's really important that you pay attention to this often overlooked detail. I've seen so many totes in facilities and many of them are not being use appropriately. Someone in purchasing thought you could get buy with a cheaper tote, but they don't have to try to carry that flimsy thing around with parts falling out of it. Make sure to get a real world number of how much weight you want to put in a tote. Anything over 40lbs is a bit of an ergonomic issue so keep that in mind. You don't need old Billy Joe filing a workman's comp claim cause you overloaded his totes causing an injury. Dimensions - Have you found a machine that shrinks or enlarges totes? If you have let me know, otherwise make sure to order the right size totes. Do you need to move totes along a conveyor? Then make sure they fit on there. Do you need people to move them? Make sure they're not too big to carry. Want to limit the chance the weight of a tote won't be exceeded? Then make sure you can't physically put more into a tote than the capacity. It's not rocket science but dimensions matter. Material - There are all kinds of totes. Cheap injection molded plastic ones, fiberglass reinforced, steel, corrugated plastic, and I could keep going on and on. If you put oily greasy parts in a corrugated plastic tote...the tote won't last long. Put aluminum parts in a steel tote and you're asking for galvanic corrosion. Material matters and mainly for the longevity of your totes. Totes are not cheap and making sure you order the right ones for the job at hand will ensure that your totes last and do the job you need them to do. If you need totes...just do a quick internet search and you'll find several companies ready to take your money. Before handing them your cash make sure to talk to someone and get feedback on your application. If they don't have someone that knows a thing or two about totes then buy elsewhere!

Post 64: Electric Tractors Are Shocking

John Deere wants to pretend they're the coolest kids on the block with their fancy self driving tractors. But the really cool kids don't have to say they're the coolest. Let me announce the cool kid, CASE IH is awesome! Self driving..yep, they also can do some assisted driving so that the combine and a trailer can sync up for unloading on the go, and the really cool thing? How about an electric tractor?!?!?!?! Yeah maybe finally we'll get all those farm kids to stop "rolling coal" with their big diesel trucks and they can start adopting electric trucks as their go to. If CASE has come up with an electric tractor then what in the world is taking so long for the electric tractor trailers (aka big rigs aka semis). the power consumption of a tractor must be massive! I can't wait for someone to transplant one of these power systems into a MONSTER TRUCK! What a redneck environmentalist's mash up! https://media.cnhindustrial.com/NORTH-AMERICA/Gallery/video/the-autonomous-solution-is-the-first-proof-point-in-the-joint-collaboration-between-case-ih-and-rave/a/019b8578-199e-476e-96b8-0a41cef98fae?categorySeoName=CASE-IH

Post 63: Genius Or Gimmick

Have you heard of Inuitive? How about a M4.5S? Don't ring a bell? That makes at least two of us. Inuitive, which seems to be a take on the word intuitive or maybe it was just a misspelling, is a company that sells ROCs. Not those kind of rocks. Robot On Chip. These guys claim to have created the holy grail of AGV and AMR sensor modules that can provide human like sensing capabilities to your mobile robotic platform. Why do I question the legitimacy of this tech, of this company? Check out their video. A fake "breaking news" kinda video that's really cheesy. Like ooozing with warm week old ricotta or if you're the dairy free sort maybe it's like that kind of cheese that doesn't melt. https://youtu.be/Spxpj_8214M

Post 62: My Robot Girlfriend Is A Stripper

Oh wow! So no, I did not search the keywords robot and stripper and sex. Absolutely not. Or did I? I'll let you believe what you'd like but either way all I can say is wow. I found myself following the rabbit down a really strange path and it started with this TikTok video of a Japanese pole dancing robot. So strange! I get us humans are pretty primal but is this how we're going to solve our depending on the sex business? Putting in some robots? After finding this first video I thought, hmm, I wonder if there's more of these types of robots. And yes, yes there is. All kinds. Now that I've stoked your curiosity...You're Welcome and good luck unseeing what you'll find.

Post 61: Come and Get Your Dinner

Have you every asked someone to pay for something and they just say no. You know how that feels, that uncomfortable moment, those tears welling up, repressed childhood memories coming to the surface. But then you just say OK and give them their stuff. Well that's kind of how it went with the guys at Cartken. Cartken is shaping up to be a direct competitor to Starship Technologies. They make these tiny little wheeled robots that deliver your coffee, lunch, and probably anything else you want delivered while you're on a college campus. I bet if these start delivering alcohol and cannabis a lot of them will go missing so maybe don't get into that business. I'm a sucker for an underdog story so let's see how this plays out!

Post 60: Tech of the Day: CNC Programming

Yep, I know how to write CNC code. Super easy if you know what you're doing. In college we actually started with NC code and then moved up to CNC. What the heck do these acronyms stand for you ask. NC = Numerical Control, CNC = Computer Numerical Control. This is the code fed into a mill, lathe, or other machining center/equipment that tells it what to do. The main difference is that NC is the old fashioned way of programming one of these machines. Kind of like using a scantron. CNC is how most machines are programmed nowadays and basically it's just a flat file like a text file that has lines of instructions. G-Code is the language that's used to write CNC code. It's super simple with the complexities being in the details. So you have some like G01 X32 Y15 Z-1.000 F400. The G is the command type, then you have your coordinates to travel to, and F would be the Feed..how fast the machine moves to get there. I've had to write this code and go run it on a machine. It's tedious and you have to understand speeds and feeds and how they relate to the cutting tool you're using, etc. But alas! Technology saves the day. There is CAM (computer aided manufacturing) software that can now take your 3D CAD model and it can create the code for you. Be careful though..you will still want to verify the code just in case there's an error!

Post 59: The Beast Mows

In a previous newsletter I talked about autonomous mowers. Those we're not mowers. They were pretending to be mowers. This thing..from Renu Robotics. Holy crap! It's A Mower! The thing looks like a bush hog (for anyone that didn't grow up on a farm that's the name of the big mower deck that gets pulled behind a tractor) on steroids. If I had one I'd probably bolt a lawn chair to it and ride around on it. It just looks fun and I think every red blooded American that drinks PBR needs one. And when your buddies come over tell them to hold your beer while you fire this bad boy up. These guys seem to be targeting solar farms but screw it, I bet if you have enough cash they'll sell it to anyone that'll buy. Also, if you need to ask how much is it..then you can't afford one. This would not be a logical purchase, but instead an emotional one like buying a $3M Pagani hypercar.

Post 58: $10M Fun Money

Another day another funding announcement in the warehouse automation space. Last week Locus announced a Series Y, X, or whatever round their up to now. But this is a bit of old news that slipped under the radar but is a game changer! Gather AI...gather what? They seem to have figured out some magic or they've built vaporware. They take drones, add vision, and software and voila they have a barcode reading, inventory tracing, volume estimating beauty of a system. I've been in at least a thousand warehouses and facilities where this system was needed. Does your Billy Bob say he can't find the boxes the WMS states is there, you mean the one that were put in the wrong spot or stolen? Hold on, I need to digress a little and jump up onto my soapbox. INVENTORY DOES NOT MAGICALLY DISAPPEAR! I absolutely HATE it when people accept that inventory that comes into their facility, which costs money, just can't be found. It's freaking ridiculous that anyone would accept this. If your facility is ok with inventory going missing someone needs to be fired. Every nut and bolt (that's a bit of a stretch) should be accounted for. Did you know that in aircraft engine assembly operations nuts and bolts can not go missing. You know what happens with missing fasteners during an engine build? They end up destroying an engine at 40,000 feet. Babies are crying, men are soiling themselves, women are hogging the oxygen masks..so DON'T accept missing inventory. OK, I feel better now so let's get back to Gather AI. What I find fascinating is how they can read so many barcode types, most which are likely placed on boxes askew, and in different locations. I'd like to see this tech mounted onto forklifts, carts, and anything else that moves around the warehouse. I don't see why this has to be tied specifically to drones!

Post 57: Meet The Real Ironman, It's Not Elon!

Elon Musk has been kinda sorta labeled as the Ironman, yes he built up Tesla and SpaceX. Both facilities I got to visit. I worked with those engineers and the stories are true. His people work their ass off. But he's not the real Ironman. Palmer Luckey is! Who the hell is this guy? Oh just the guy that created Oculus and then sold it to Facebook. You know the guy that made VR affordable. After selling Oculus he needed to do something with all his cash and time. Most people would take it easy for a bit, sip drinks on a beach, go date some models. Not this guy. He decides upend the beast that is the US military machine. How? Well normally the US government pays a select group of contractors to develop technology for the US military and it's allies. What this means is that a lot of our tax dollars are being wasted on ideas that don't work, pipe dreams of Congress. So what does a young guy with really deep pockets do? He decides to build the tech of the future and sells it to the government after it works. He can do it faster and better because his team maintains the creative control and they don't need the federal funding to make it happen. As taxpayers this means our dollar is much more effective at keeping our nation secure than in the past. The core of what they do is bring autonomous tech to the battlefield. Freakin Awesome!

Post 56: Tech of the Day: Databases

I first learned about databases in college. We learned how to create a Microsoft SQL database with some tables and then got really fancy by connecting it to an MS Access frontend. If you don't know what a database is all I've said in the past couple of sentences seems like nonsense but I'll break it down for you. See this picture? That's what a database looks like. Another way to visualize a database is like this. You go buy a filing cabinet. That's your database. Then you go and put file folders in there. Those are your database tables. And within those file folders you put sheets of paper. In a database those would be records in your table. So now with your newly created database (filing cabinet) you can organize all kinds of records (papers of information) within those tables (file folders). The beauty of the database is that it can be structured AND you can run some pretty awesome searches(queries). So sticking to the filing cabinet example, say you walked up to the filing cabinet and said. Show me all the records in the blue folder that have the name Billy Bob. Then the filing cabinet gives you a nice neat pile of records to look through. This is really all a database is, a structured place to store data so it can become useful information presented through the results of a query. Databases don't have to be hard but sometimes IT aliens people like to make them complex. For the average person they don't need to be. Now before I get all kinds of hate mail from you IT guys, more specifically you dbas (aka database admins aka damn boring ass smartasses), yes there are complexities to databases. They have to be set up right, there are little details to think about with how the data is indexed, etc. But we normal people don't need to worry about that because we have you dbas to make sure we don't screw these datasets up!

Post 55: Robot Magic

I love robot magic, especially impossible robot magic! This video caught my attention the other day and I thought dammmmnnnnn I know some people that might want to check this out. Fredrik Rydén from Olis Robotics took a cheapass webcam, mounted it to a cobot, did what has to be some pretty tough math and abracadabra we have robot magic. It's quite the bit. I just couldn't help myself. In this case Fredrik had his bot take some cables out of a container but really the applications for this are pretty endless. I don't see millions of dollars of R&D spend in this video but instead some dude that took what others claim to be incredibly difficult and simplified it. The automation industry needs more Fredriks. Smart guys finding ways to solve complex problems without having to write dissertations to make themselves seem smarter than everyone else. Cheers to you Fredrik, you sir are an Automation Junkie!

Post 54: Rocket Cutting Robots

Back in the day if the government had unspent warheads we'd bury them and let mother Earth reabsorb those toxins over the next few million years. Things have changed and we actually care about what's in the water we drink! So what do you do if you have thousands, TENS of THOUSANDS of military warheads full of VX and sarin nerve agents? Well first you try not to scare off the people living in the area, but then you hire some of them to quite literally pick up these rockets and move them around, inspecting, draining, disassembling them. That's not a job for the faint of heart. Oh and you have to do this while wearing the highest level contamination suit which takes you about 30 minutes to put on. I feel sorry for those guys and gals! But alas there's a hero here! The team at CRG Automation is called in to figure out how to remove as much risk to human life as possible from the disposal of these rockets. The president of CRG is a military veteran so he's no stranger to danger. The team created a custom solution that removes the toxic chemicals from the rockets, takes the rocket and places it into a container with a lid and crimps it shut, then loads it onto a pallet with other containers. Then that container is basically incinerated at over 1K degrees in what's called a Static Detonation Chamber. For some reason I want to call it an STD chamber but SDC is ok too. CRG did such a great job reducing the time it took to process each warhead and the risk of contamination that not only did they get the first project but they also earned opportunities to solve several other problems related to the processing of these warheads. Read more here: https://crgautomation.com/news/how-a-team-united-in-just-18-months-to-overhaul-how-america-destroys-its-most-dangerous-chemical-weapons

Post 53: Rice Sorting Race

Going down the automation rabbit hole takes me on some incredible journeys. I see rabbits, of course, tree roots, and today I stumbled upon one of my favorite, most satisfying tech to see in action..Optical Sorters. I've seen one of these in person and it's just freaking fantastic. What I find interesting is how fast these machines not only detect, but also react to say a flawed grain of rice, tomato, etc. In just a split of a split second these machines will puff a little air and kick a defective product into a reject chute or in the case of tomatoes an arm swings down and knocks it away. This tech is one of the wonders of the automation world!

Post 52: Tech of the Day: Stack Light

This may show my age but screw it, I gotta get to the basics of automation! So if you don't know what this thing is in the picture and you studied automation or robotics..call up your college and ask for a refund. You got taken. Pictured here is a stack light. Why the hell is it called a "stack" light you ask. Simple. Basically these are made by "stacking" lights on top of each other. You can order them with just 1 light or many. You can also add audible alarms too. In the wonderful world of automation these handy dandy little lights are used to show the status of a machine, assembly line, or basically anything. You could put one of these at your desk, wire up a button, and whenever you are annoyed with your boss press the button to set off a flashing red beacon and audible alarm. Go ahead give that one a try! I kid but really you can do a lot with these but all they really are for is to visually indicate status. How about wiring you ask? There are so many configurations but it's common to order a 3 stack setup and wire into a PLC output module. Then just include in your logic some triggers that latch the lights on when you want them to turn on. Want to buy one? Just do an online search for stack light...you'll see pricing in the $20 to $1,000 range. The ones I've bought in the past are about $300.

Post 51: LiDAR: The Money Pit

There are too many LiDAR companies. Almost all of the players in the space are losing money, even the top players! You want to see your investment dollars vanish then go ahead and send them your money. They need it to survive. These are companies that are bringing in sales of $5M-$40M per year but their books are ending up in the red by HUNDREDS of millions! Freaking crazy! So what gives? LiDAR is pretty cool tech with applications throughout robotics and automation. Well, there are too many of them, bloated with VC dollars, working on the same mission. There needs to be a consolidation and cutting of the fat at these companies. AND more importantly they need to get the job done. Stop doinking around playing table tennis or taking breaks to play video games. Go build a system people can use and build it to scale. Don't believe me? Check out Luminar Technologies and AEye. You'll see what I'm talking about.

Post 50: Armed Robocop

San Francisco, the home of the Golden Gate Bridge, rampant homelessness, and now robots that can use deadly force. For such a liberal city in a liberal state it's pretty incredible to hear that the city has approved the ability for their police department to utilize a robot to deploy deadly force. Now they're not looking to put a machine gun on a robot, yet. But they do foresee the need to put a detonable device on a robot and have it approach a bad guy and well...boom goes the dynamite. Most of you probably don't know this but this exact scenario played out in Dallas back in 2016. A man suspected of killing 5 Dallas police officers gets into a wild west style gunfight with more officers and instead of risking any more officers, they drove their bomb robot to the suspect and set off a grenade. Whichever side of this issue you fall on one thing is inevitable. Robots will be weaponized. The scary part of this is the reality that if the good guys have these robots, the bad guys will also have them. So be ready to order your own personal sentry gun like the ones we used to have in Team Fortress! https://apnews.com/article/police-san-francisco-government-and-politics-d26121d7f7afb070102932e6a0754aa5

Post 49: Snow Blowing Bot

For many of you people out there winter is coming...winter IS coming. Are you ready? Do you have your snowboots, gloves, coats, hats? How about your snow shovel or snow blower? Rest easy cause now there's Snowbot. Check out the video of this little guy chugging away at removing snow. Automation is making our lives easier and this is just another way for us to get lazier and become more comfortable on those cold snowy winter days. If you want to check out this company and what they're up to: https://www.thesnowbot.com/

Post 48: Tech of the Day: What's an Integrator?

If you're in the automation space you've probably heard of someone or a company being called an INTEGRATOR. What kind of a beast of a human is this? Is it like the terminator but better? Not really. An integrator is a person or a company that takes multiple technologies, generally from different vendors, and unifies them into a solution that solves a client's problem. Why do integrators exist you ask? Let's say you want to put a conveying system into your facility that routes totes to various locations. Ok, so you need to call a conveyor company, you'll need a warehouse control software, you need some barcode scanners, next find someone that will create an interface between your company's software and the warehouse control software. And how about the physical installation of all this? This is a lot of work. An integrator solves most if not all of this. An integrator acts as the lead on all of these topics delivering to you the complete package ready to go. Lots of companies don't have huge engineering staff or any at all so an integrator provides the on demand technical know how needed to execute automation projects. What's in it for the integrator? Two things. Money and experience. Integrators usually add 10-30% to the cost of a project. More importantly integrators leverage the experience from their projects to expand their knowledge base, building upon their capabilities which then affords them opportunities with other clients.

Post 47: Robots Make Us Sad At Work

A recent report came out saying that us humans are insecure about our jobs being taken by robots. Makes total sense! The development of robots and automation is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Robots are coming out every day doing jobs that humans can do. Flipping burgers, tending manufacturing equipment, parking lot security. Robots ARE coming after the "basic" jobs. Companies and some people are denying this but it's the truth. We have a labor shortage and the easiest way to make a dent in it is to automate the simplest jobs. Frankly, I'm surprised we still hand our money over to a person at McDonalds and a person is handing us our food. The study the report was based on concluded that there is a correlation between job insecurity and robot population density and that this issue is prevalent throughout our modern day society. So what's the fix for this issue? The researchers stated that self affirmation was the cure to this insecurity... Science Daily also reported on this https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221011105730.htm

Post 46: Robot Maid

I get bored sometimes. And to fill that boredom with something positive I scroll through the bowels of the internet looking for something interesting. Today I found something really awesome that I'm pretty excited about. I'm surprised that it hasn't made a bigger splash too. Samsung is working on robots to help around the house. There are a few videos from CES showing their two bots Bot i and Bot Handy. Both are freaking awesome and I really hope Samsung is serious about bringing these or at least something close to these to market. Bot i is basically a mobile personal assistant. It follows you around reminding you of all the things you need to do and it also nags at you a little bit too. Who doesn't want to develop a codependent relationship with a narcissistic bot? I can't wait! Then there's Bot Handy, your sidekick that does dishes, picks up dirty laundry, and really keeps your house in order. If somethings out of place it uses AI to detect it and deal with it. We are getting closer to the Jetson's reality I saw in cartoons! Samsung Research is an advanced research & development hub of Samsung's Set Business. research.samsung.com

Post 45: My Golfing Robot is Better Than Yours

I don't play golf, well I take that back. I play footgolf and putt putt. And I'm awesome at both. But I need some help on my "traditional" golf game. Que the hero music! Here comes GOLFI, the best damn putting robot ever. About 4 days ago the web was quietly flooded with articles and releases about this robot that can putt and is pretty good at it. If you invite me to play golf, you better believe I'm bringing this guy and a six pack. Hell I'll just drive the golf cart and tow this sucker behind me. A team of German brainiacs came up with Golfi. They claim the experiment isn't just applicable to golfing and that there are other use cases. I'm curious..how about they use this same logic to help guys at bars figure out the best pickup lines? Now that's a billion dollar idea. Johnny 5 move over, Golfi is here.

Post 44: Tech of the Day: MDR Conveyor

Motor Driven Live Roller Conveyor I see you, MDR conveyor, you work horse of the warehouse, you mover of boxes and totes! There are 2 basic types of conveyor. MDR and everything else. MDR conveyor is the standard for powered conveyor throughout the world. Basically this conveyor is awesome because you can power different sections (zones) at different times and do awesome things with it. The basic way this works is that you have these powered rollers that are attached to a group of rollers. When the powered roller is kicked on it turns itself which also turns the other rollers in that zone connected via the bands. By having several of these zones in series you create what's called accumulating conveyor. What's so great about this? Let me tell you! Instead of having boxes getting jammed up you can now have boxes or totes line up 1 at a time, neatly spaced. Then when the 1st box moves on the rest of the boxes index to the next position. This means you can build complex conveying systems with transfer and diverts. Want to read more? Check out the conveyor guys. They have a good little write up on it! www.conveyorguys.com

Post 43: Ally Robotics are the basic robot

Robots that weld, robots that assemble stuff, robots that work in clean rooms, blah blah blah. How about a robot to pick up a bag of groceries? How about a robot to make the perfect french fries? Sometimes robot nerds get off on grand robotic tasks but you know what will make robots main stream? Have them do the basic stuff no one wants to do! Remember one of my prior newsletters where I talked about Miso? The robot guys focused on the restaurant biz? Well Ally and Miso are best buddies right now cause Ally will be the backbone of what Miso delivers. So what makes Ally neat? Like really super nerd neat? Well imagine a beautiful world where robots can be trained to do stuff without needing a programmer of any sort...that's the world Ally is creating and it's freaking awesome. I see their robotic arms being used everywhere. Manufacturing, warehousing, retail, food, you name it there's probably a use case for their tech. F'n cool stuff they're doing!

Post 42: Bionauts ATTACK!

Crazy freaking stuff right here! I came across a news article about a company, Bionaut,that is getting close to deploying robots to treat brain, spinal cord, and other parts of our bodies with a weird tiny little robot. They're focused right now on treating tumors and cysts in the brain with very localized treatments but the applications could reach farther into our guts. This little bot is driven by magnetism to it's destination, it can then release a payload or INJECT a target! They've been practicing on pigs and sheep but human trials are coming. So obviously there is a lot of good that could be done here but who's to say someone with bad intentions doesn't develop their own version? This is the stuff that Bond movies are made of! Here's a video of it in action and they have several more on their website too. https://bionautlabs.com/videos

Post 41: A Press Release over 6 Robots?

You know what's not news? A project consisting of 6 mobile robots. Really? Who's idea was it to spend the time writing up the press release? Oh and if you read further you'll see the client purchased another 5 robots for. future use. So let me get this straight..an order worth maybe, just maybe $1.5M of robots (and that's a really high estimate for 11 MiR amrs) is news? Nah, I don't buy it. Add some zeros behind those numbers. There are lots of guys in the AGV and AMR space selling $3M+ dollar projects all day long, with some sites getting into the hundreds of units. https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/technology-business-tennessee-athens-541e0313e7214e8986add75e1f5bac1f

Post 40: Tech of the Day: AI

Artificial intelligence is here to stay and you better be ready to hop on the train or get plowed. Need a creative picture? AI can do it. Need a cool song? AI can do that too. Videos? Coming really damn soon. Ok, what's AI? Artificial intelligence. The quick skinny on this tech is this. First, a program is trained by uploading all kinds of content, data, etc to create something resembling a bank of memories. Then someone can ask for a task to be completed and AI will dig into it's memories and piece together what the requestor is seeking. Freaking crazy shit here. This tech is getting really good, like super awesome kind of good. You know all those pics at the top of this newsletter? Yeah all made with AI. My favorite is still the pic with my request of a robot building a robot. Robot building a robot But there's a major controversy brewing here. AI has to be trained. And it gets trained by being shown human works, yeah like copyrighted, trademarked, intellectual property. Does this make the output of AI legal? Depends on who you ask. Want your mind blown? Look up the Joe Rogan and Steve Jobs podcast interview. This was done through AI and it's creepily realistic!!

Post 39: Noname Collab Robot for Everyone

Who wants a robot? I do, I do! There's a Chinese outfit that just released a couple of new lines of collaborative robots. It's not a joke but a company called Dobot is targeting retail users of these bots. The Nova line of bots are designed for coffee shops, noodle restaurants, even physical therapists. This outfit claims that the bots are smaller and more capable than the current units on the market. Not sure on the price but if restaurants are buying them they'll need to be cheap to really go mainstream. I'm not sold that the foodservice and hospitality business is ready for these robots. It's still hard to get manufacturing and warehousing operations on board with technology and they have solid business cases for automation! https://apnews.com/press-release/pr-newswire/technology-business-30821f26ef022efb574e36a91c76ba05

Post 38: CATs get Zapped

So this is some interesting stuff. CAT, aka CATerpillar, aka the big gold colored bulldozers and heavy equipment, will soon be able to dock and automatically charge. Kind of like your little robot vacuum cleaner. This is crazy stuff! Imagine mining equipment, bulldozers, excavators that are being developed to charge themselves. Seems like mine operators will need fewer people to operate and increase output because they'll have less downtime.

Post 37: Autonomous Dog Craps on Boston Dynamics

Bad dog! Bad Dog! While BD has been busy filing lawsuits its competitors have been busy doing actually useful work. You know what's better than a dancing remote controlled dog? How about one that can go from point A to point B autonomously without an internal map? A team of robot braniacs including Ananye Agarwal, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon, have figured out how to out fight the other dogs in the pack. These dogs can climb stairs, jump gaps, and otherwise maneuver obstacles just based on camera inputs. It's freaking incredible. This is the tech that's really needed for robotic tech to really advance and be truly useful to mankind.

Post 36: Tech of the Day: PLCs

Say it with me..Programmable Logic Controller Programmable Logic Controller What the heck is a plc. Simple. It's an industrial computer in it's simplest form. It's the brain of most automation systems. You can get online and order a plc ready for you to use. Just know that it's not as simple as ordering a plc and then you're ready to go. Getting into plcs is like getting into home built desktop computers. You need to piece everything you need together. Buy a chassis, PLC, power supply, input and output modules, and other modules (like communication modules).....and also know how to program ladder logic and the basic process of how a PLC thinks. When you run a plc program you're executing ladder logic. Ladder logic is like coding as if you're playing Donkey Kong. Program starts at the top and goes down the page in rungs. But before the plc gets to the code it actually scans all the inputs connected to it. Then it executes the program, makes changes to the outputs as required, then it does housekeeping (basically all the overhead stuff that needs to be done like communications, resets, etc) Want to get into robotics or automation? Read up on plcs. It'll be well worth the time to develop an understanding of what underpins just about all the fun toys we have in our space. If you want to learn more check out information from Rockwell Automation. I would consider them the undisputed kings of the plc.

Post 35: Crazy Swimming Robots

So the folks that invented these robots are either brilliant or just odd. A couple of mad scientist made tiny, itty bitty, robots that swim. But not just swim. They can work together in a swarm. These guys were able to create a vortex with 4,000 of these little bots and get some plastic (trash) trapped in the vortex. Mind blown! Why the heck have we not started using a bigger version of these bots to clean the seas? Seriously we have a trash problem in the ocean. With a large army of these bots they could autonomously attack plastic in the ocean, trap it, and move it to a collection station. It's time we figure out how to help Captain Planet save the Earth. https://techxplore.com/news/2022-11-multiple-robots-vortex-microplastics.html

Post 34: Stop Charging the Old Fashioned Way

Are you still plugging in male plugs into female receptacles? How disgusting! That's so old fashioned. Instead why don't you hook up a Nimbus Engineering Power Relay and bam send electricity over an led beam! Imagine you have mobile robots or other automation that's battery powered but now they can take a charge without going to an inductive charging or a traditional dock. PLUSSSSSS these units can actually power the units directly so you could have almost continuous charging while units are in motion. They've already count the Department of Defense as a customer plus have actually sold units already. This could all be fluff or totally a game changer when it comes to power delivery. Check them out and let me know what you think! https://nimbus.energy/

Post 33: Leveling Up VR

What's the worst thing about VR? Aside from feeling nauseous after 10 mins? Having to stay within a confined area so you don't bash your face into a wall. Well some awesome guys are working to solve this problem! So put on your vr headset and imagine a virtual world where you can actually walk around for hours? Imagine exploring a virtual landscape by actually walking. Right now the system looks like a bit of a death trap but hey which limb severing prototype doesn't? I think this is a brilliant idea and frankly why hasn't Meta built something already? Seems like the real next progression for the metaverse. One where you can actually interact in all dimensions. If these guys building the walking system really want to level up they should work on an exoskeleton that interacts with VR so you can do things like jump, sit, lean, and of course walk and run. What if we could have virtual races too?? https://hackaday.com/2022/11/18/diy-robotic-platform-aims-to-solve-walking-in-vr/

Post 32: Tech of the Day: Robotic Surgeries

The robots are coming for your blood! I can't help watch these robotic surgery videos. Kind of like the pimple popper videos they quench my thirst for gruesome but also feed my tech addiction. I remember first hearing about this tech when I applied for a job at daVinci Systems. Basically you have a trained surgeon that sits at a console watching a video feed from the robotic head and manipulating surgical tools. But you have to watch the video and check it out to really appreciate it. The robotic setup is crazy looking! Like some kind of huge sci-fi mechanical spider eating away are a human body. There are tons of benefits to this tech. The patient suffers less because the procedures require smaller incisions to get into the body/affected area, equaling less pain medication. Since surgeons are seated and being robotically assisted there is less fatigue. Plus the video feeds can be transmitted to multiple monitors and that allows remote doctors to participate in a procedure. What's next for this tech? Imagine a surgeon getting into your body and having a heads up display identifying your various body parts, monitoring for the tiniest of blood loss, and feeding them an unprecedented amount of information. With ML and AI coming into the mix surgeries will become lower risk with higher success rates.

Post 31: You get a laser blaster, you get a laser blaster and YOU get a laser blaster

At first I envisioned something like playing laser tag and paintball in one. You know, get hit by a laser and it just leaves a little burn mark that reminds you of how tough you are. I wasn't even close. The laser blaster is basically a sandblaster given nuclear power. So think of a handheld sand blasting machine but instead of sand you use a laser to clean parts. I've seen tons of videos of this type of tech but nothing that would be for industrial use and high volume. Looks like Emerson Automation is the first big company to buy this tech from Laser Photonics. So does this mean we're getting close to a household use laser? How about a laser to cut your steak instead of a steak knife? https://www.laserphotonics.com/cleantech-laser-blaster-cabinet

Post 30: What's better than being the 148th company on a list?

148th isn't bad but to best that....be 147th like the team at Cobalt Robotics. They made 147th on the Deloitte Technologies Fast 500 list. This ranking is based on a 979% fiscal year revenue growth from 2018-2021. Those are great results for a company so congrats to Cobalt Robotics. But...the inner business analyst in me is wondering what kind of messed up metric is that?! So there are 2 things that caught my eye about this press release. First off..Cobalt Robotics. They seem to be doing something pretty good but basic. Looks like they have a security robot that can roam and also be manually controlled/interfaced with by a human. You know how when you go into a facility you have to sign in on the little touchscreen? They put that on a stick and wheels and called it a robot. This reminds me of Knightscope but not as tough. Knightscope is like robocop and Cobalt Robotics is like a mall cop. Kudos to Cobalt for the progress but they need to do a mash up with Ascento Robotics and now you would have a stair climbing security robot that you could mount a taser onto. The second thing that really bugs me about the press release is this Deloitte Fast 500 list. Here's the skinny on it. First you have to apply to it, be in biz for at least 4 years, min revenue of $50K(2018), current revenue of $5M (2021). And the formula for the growth is ((2021revenue - 2018revenue)/2018revenue)X100. So lets play with this. Let's say you have 2018 revenues of $50K, what does that mean for 2021 revenues at the 979% growth rate? About $560K, but then you don't make the list. Now here's the hack if you really wanted to top the chart of this list. First sandbag your revenue for the next year aside from $50K. Then hit $10M in revenue within the next 2 years. That would give you basically 200,000% growth based on this formula. If making the top of this list is super exciting to you and you're going to plan your business around this then stop. Don't make a business. No one really cares if you make this list. It's simply a pay for recognition list. https://apnews.com/press-release/globe-newswire/technology-robotics-north-america-2b2723eab2cd8dfc948b4c03b9552de1

Post 29: Big Joe wants to play with the big boys too

So I read a tiny, itty bitty, miniscule press release about Big Joe, the forklift company wanting to get into the automation business. From the looks of it they created a pretty half baked plan. They have an operations guy running the program and heck they don't even have the "new" machine on their website yet. What I found interesting is a comment they made on the affordability of their units. That's important but more so it needs to work and be reliable. If they can't get those 2 things right they'll soon realize no one will buy their cheap machine.

Post 28: Tech of the Day: IDGAF, oops I mean AGF

Automated Guided Forklifts Tired of Bobby Joe beating up your forklifts? Ever caught someone drunk on a forklift? Well, automated guided forklifts solve these problems and a few others. In simplest terms...its a forklift that drives itself. You program it and it runs a predetermined route. There are 2 main schools of thoughts on navigation. One is using a laser based system and another leveraging camera based tech. Both are pretty good but each have weaknesses. Vision based systems suck at positioning accuracy and laser based suck at navigating around obstacles. So depending on your application one may be a better fit than the other. Key players in the space are Seegrid, Vecna, Junghienrich, JBT, Dematic.

Post 27: Cluck cluck it's not a duck

Soft Robotics...you finally got your break. I interviewed with these guys a while back before their ceo had departed and seemed like a good company trying to figure out how in the world to commercialize their tech. But they didn't have much cash to pay so we didn't get far. But now they have sold more of their souls for $26M in a series C. They have caught the eye of the pretty ladies at the dance...Tyson Foods, Johnsonville ( the braut guys), and Marel (think food processing equipment). Based on this latest round of investments and who bought in it's no secret that they're headed down the protein route. Hopefully this cuts down on the number of immigrants losing fingers at meat processing facilities!! Read more about it here: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/soft-robotics-inc-secures-26m-in-first-close-of-series-c-led-by-tyson-ventures-marel-and-johnsonville-also-invest-and-join-soft-robotics-powerful-syndicate-301681099.html

Post 26: And the dog fight continues!!

The other day I mentioned Boston Dynamics and their lawsuit against Ghost Robotics. BD is claiming that Ghost's 4 legged friend's walk looks too much like their own yellow dog's walk and are claiming patent infringement. A pretty dumb claim. Ghost Robotics laid the smack down today with this: "Rather than compete on a level playing field, the company chose to file an obstructive and baseless lawsuit on November 11th in an attempt to halt the newcomer's progress. Boston Dynamics is drawing on their considerably larger resources to litigate instead of innovate." I love the response. Boston Dynamics needs to focus on creating a profitable business so it doesn't get sold off again when Hyundai decides their tired of supporting the team that's focused on dancing robots.

Post 25: Another day another hype event

Venture Capitalists are looking for their next big bet since SaaS is loosing it's luster. So the latest misguided bets are AMP Robotics and Bright Machines. AMP, the recycle automation guys, raised a $91M series C and Bright Machines, with a $132M injection. Folks..these companies are not profitable. They're not talking about expansion plans or creating new tech. No they need this money to survive. They're burning cash and need more runway to get them to their next round. This money provides a false sense of achievement. Look on LinkedIn and you'll see high fives all around from those at these companies. This is insane. There are tons of GREAT automation and robotics companies that are profitable or at the very least break even that if they received $90M or $130M in capital coulld do some incredible things! Instead capital flows to hype. Hey VC's why don't you bring in some common sense to these big bets and hire operators in the space that can turn a profit.

Post 24: Tech of the Day: VLMs

The big boxes you put all the stuff you want to hide in If you're using shelving to store products, tools, and other stuff you should check out vertical lift modules. Basically its a tower with storage locations in the back, storage locations in the front, and a central section where the elevator runs. You can use the built-in keypad and select a tray number and it ill bring it down to you or use software and store and retrieve your items by part number. These big boxes cost around $130K for a machine with an 8ft wide by 3 ft deep tray. You can negotiate them down though cause margins on these boxes run about 25%. Players in the space are Modula, Hanel, Whiter Systems, Kardex, and a few others.

Post 23: Bring on the robo mowers

I find few things in life as rewarding as coming home to a freshly mown yard. But I absolutely hate mowing. I know some of you probably enjoy the hours spent doing a mindless task but quite frankly I'd rather be coding or doing something else, really almost anything else besides mowing my yard. So if you're like me and you're willing to pony up a couple of thousand dollars for a robotic mower, you're in luck. Husquvarna has been refining their automated mowers for years now and the tech is getting better and better. They're not great but get the job done. It's basically a combination of a wireless dog fence and a vacuum bot. Kinda aimlessly wander around mowing. I'm a fanboy of these but until the price drops into the hundreds of dollars range I'll stick to my current way of automating my lawn mowing...paying the neighbor kid $40 per mow.

Post 22: What's with the barking?

Boston Dynamics has filed suit against Ghost Robotics. BD claims that Ghost's dogs walk too similarly to Spot and they don't like that. Really? How a robot walks is patentable? Here's one of the patents in question: US Patent for Leg swing trajectories Patent (Patent # 11,447,195 issued September 20, 2022) - Ju... A method of planning a swing trajectory for a leg of a robot includes receiving an initial position of a leg of the robot, an initial velocity of the leg, a touchdown location, ... patents.justia.com Attention ALL legged robotic manufacturers! There is a patent on the logic and process on how a robot walks. Guess this means that we'll have some robotics starting to swagger. BD claims they are protecting their intellectual property which makes sense, if they intend to commercialize their tech in a significant way. But BD isn't doing anything substantial with their robots yet. They're not going to participate in the US war machine (even though they received DARPA $$ early on) and at best right now what's going into the marketplace is Spot and their dodo bird looking box picker Stretch. Let's get real here Boston Dynamics. You are a research lab. You're an unprofitable company with no real go to market strategy or commercial direction. You should be licensing your tech so that the greater robotics community can prosper.

Post 21: You're the apple of my metallic, non-squishy, camera eye

The industry thats quietly and creepily adopting automation is agriculture. Those farmers are pretty smart. They buy up all the land use it up, then turn around and sell it for a fortune so developers can put up matchstick houses. But now they're getting into robots too. Apple farmers and packers are using something called the Aporo Produce Packer. I'll call it an APP for short. This right here is the type of automation that makes COMPLETE sense. Why pay for a worker to pick up an apple from a conveyor belt and place it into a cardboard carton? That's just dumb. This machine does it for you. Feed the apples and cartons to the unit and BAM you have apples ready to ship.

Post 20: Tech of the Day: COBOTs

COBOTS are f'n awesome and you should get one! Cobot Pic Ok so what problem do cobots solve, let me count the ways... but I'll spare you. It's simple. Buying and implementing a robotic arm used to take a small fortune for hardware, expert robotic implementation teams, software, etc. AND the projects would take forever! Buy a robot and if you're lucky in 1 year it's up and running. Not since the cool kid named cobot came to town. Want to get a robot up and running in a few hours to days? No problem. Cobots were designed to make robots easy to implement and relatively safe for humans to interact with. These little guys are great for probably the 80% of repetitive human tasks that exist in manufacturing. Machine tending is a great example. Why pay an operator to load a part in a machining center and then unload it? Bobby Joe can just sit on his rear and be the master of his cobot minion. This isn't a plug but the guys that deserve credit for making cobots main stream are Universal Robots out of Denmark. They've got over 1K employees making these bots and have basically created a magical hub of robotic nerds companies in Odense.

Post 19: Do you see the gap?

So stumbled across a pretty interesting article the other day when I was researching my Tech of the Day that got me thinking. Why the hell is there such a disparity between robotics companies? FANUC $600B+ company..Yaskawa $448B..ABB $28B Seriously? Thats a 33% gap between the top 2 manufacturers. You could fit all of the other robotic arm manufacturers in that gap. Mind blowing numbers when I see reports that the global automation market is estimated in the $80B ish range. I know the reason why, because I'm smart. FANUC, a japanese company has been at it for a long time in a market (Japan) that adopted automation early. The irony is that the US helped build up Japan's manufacturing dominance yet the first non Japanese entry is 3rd. FANUC built a name for itself in the asian market but is also a dominant force in the US market and unless ABB steps up to the plate will continue to be the undisputed champion. NOPE... WRONG ANSWER. It's cause whoever or whomever (using both cause I don't feel like checking which is right) wrote the report totally messed up. They got their currencies messed up and were comparing JPY and USD values in the same list. FANUC does NOT have revenues north of $600B USD and Yaskawa doesn't even get close to the $448B mark. ABB $28.9B USD, FANUC $4.6B USD, $3.8B USD. Approximately. This report sucks and should have been fact checked! Link below.. https://www.emergenresearch.com/blog/top-10-companies-in-cobot-market-revolutionizing-the-future-of-workplace

Post 18: Automation isn't for Everyone

Not every company can afford to automate and sometimes the companies that can afford to are just too damn cheap or ignorant to do so. I've met with tons of people to discuss automating their facilites. Sometimes I meet folks that are all in and understand automation and the real value it brings to their company. Other times, well it's just a meeting with someone checking off a box because their boss told them to look into automation. For the latter...stop calling in salespeople to give them busy work. Nobody has time to mess with your pet projects. Unfortunately big companies sometimes suck to work at. You're measured on the hours you put in as an engineer and not the value you bring so you put in the time but you don't bring the heat. So bring it. Don't just do a job, instead become a student of the automation craft. Be that expert everyone turns. This..makes..your..job..fun. Companies looking to automate need creativity not conformity. And if you're at a company and don't feel valued and fulfilled, find another job because there are businesses out there looking for you, Mr. Automation nerd. We love working with companies that want to be on the cutting edge, willing to take risks, and above all want to show their competitors who's got the coolest toys. For these companies, automation is the future and they are heavily investing in it.

Post 17: Software pwns hardware

Just my opinion but in the robotics and automation space the hardware companies WERE king. Companies would make robots and equipment with lots of bolts and buttons but they were pretty dumb machines. You gave the machine an input and it would do something. But nowadays software is king! Companies that try to deny this will take a spiral ride down to nonexistence. Software is the brain of any robotic or automated system. The reason why software is now in the drivers seat is because computing power is now faster than the mechanics it's driving. At the core of any automated system you need to be able to receive inputs, make decisions, get feedback, adjust based on the feedback, and do it all over again but super fast. Like so fast. Like think of the word cat, now say the letter C. In the time it took you to say the letter, software driving an automated system would have already made hundreds of decisions, if not thousands. So now we approach machines as dumb things and we make them super smart by adding sensors and then giving them a brain with software so these hunks of metal and plastic can do awesome things. Why do I say Software Pwns Hardware? Cause it does. When was the last time you bought a rotary phone?

Post 16: Edge Computing

Living on the EDGE! The most complicated computer network idea in existence. Edge Computing I'll try to boil this down to the basics. Edge computing is basically just getting the best of being in the cloud and having local computers. The idea is that it takes too long for requests from your computer to go out to the cloud and the responses to come back AND if there's an issue with the "cloud" you're down. So close your eyes and imagine for a second you have 3 computers all in your house. Those 3 computers all talk to each other and operate like 1. If your hard drive becomes full on one of them the system automatically saves it onto computer 2. Also, processing power gets shared. What makes this all work? Software. There are software systems that allow you to set up edge computing systems. Who cares about using edge computing? Well...one use case that comes to mind is automobile telematics. So imagine we have all these self driving cars. These cars need to make decisions in fractions of a second to prevent little Tommy from taking an ambulance ride. Cars will need to communicate to local, redundant hubs that provide lightning fast data flows. https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2022/10/edge-computing-manufacturing

Post 15: See ya later AutoGuide

Teradyne. Sounds like it's a chemical like iodine but nope it's a multi-billion dollar beast of an automation company. Teradyne has decided that their agv(AutoGuide) and mobile robotics(MiR) groups are too clunky and need to be brought together. So, AutoGuide is being extinguished and the MiR name shall prevail. So what this tells me is that the AutoGuide sales and management side of the business has lost out to it's little brother (MiR). Everything I've seen and heard points to the agvs being rolled into the MiR portfolio streamlining their sales channels. Sucks for the AutoGuide team. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20221005005228/en/Mobile-Industrial-Robots-and-AutoGuide-Mobile-Robots-Merge-to-Simplify-Automation-of-Customers%E2%80%99-Internal-Logistics-with-Full-Portfolio-of-Safe-Collaborative-AMRs

Post 14: Damn Lincoln you're on to something!

What does $427M buy you? Well, you could buy a mega yacht like Jeff Bezos has or if you want to be practical, how about an automation company with over 700 employees with 8 locations globally. I love heckling mergers and aquisitions but Lincoln Electric just bought Fori Automation and it seems like a great buy. Fori does about $230M per year in sales and is profitable. So Lincoln scored on 2 fronts. First, they bought a working cash making machine that's growing. Second, they're getting deeper with their automative clients. Oh who's Lincoln Electric? They've been in business since 1895 making welders but now they're getting into the automation business. Like automated welding. There are plenty of companies that do automated welding robotics but Lincoln has been wanting to get into the game. It'll be interesting to see if they can leave the Fori Automation team alone. Hey Lincoln, don't let your corportate politics and policies burden the agility of Fori. You are a product business, Fori is a solution business...leave them alone if you want them to be successful. https://www.inddist.com/mergers-acquisitions/news/22498639/lincoln-electric-agrees-to-acquire-fori-automation-for-427m

Post 13: Seriously?

Marketing is fun, it's creative, it's innovating. But the folks at Hy-Tek Material Handling missed the mark.. https://www.dcvelocity.com/articles/55895-hy-tek-announces-rebrand I wonder how the meeting went. A bunch of folks sitting around the conference room..the top guy says, "hey we need to come up with a new, hip name". They all stammer around thinking of different names. Fasttech Automation, Hipster Technologies, Laserbeam Solutions. Then someone sits up and yells, "Hy-Tek Intralogistics!" and the room erupts in applause. All the suits get up and leave the conference room, the boss winks at the genius that came up with the name and offers a raise, which of course the company man declines. Hey Hy-Tek...you didn't need to announce this. Nobody calls you Hy-Tek Material Handling and no one will refer to you as Hy-Tek Intralogistics.

Post 12: Tech of the Day: Beep, bloop, Barcode Scanners

How does a barcode scanner work? It's pretty cool. Basically the scanner sends out a beam of light that passes across a surface, then it measures how much light bounces back. Mind blowing that someone spent the time to figure this out. There are tons of different barcodes but the most common now are the 1D and 2D style. D stands for dimension. A 1D barcode is like the upc on a can of beans and 2D is like a qr code. Commonly you would use a 1D to keep a part number on a part or maybe a serial number but with a 2D you can have much more information that you grab from a single scan, like you could put a model number, serial number, production date, etc all in one scan. So to get the information from a barcode scanner into a system...it's actually pretty easy. Most scanners are treated like a "keyboard wedge" and will simply put the output of the scan whereever your cursor is focused on the screen. The first time I played with a barcode scanner I hooked one up via USB to my laptop, opened up Notepad, then scanned a barcode and boom numbers appeared on my screen. The most basic scanners simply output what they scan but there are programmable barcode scanners that you can actually program to do things, like add carrage returns, look for certain snippets of characters, and other cool things. You can pick up a cheap scanner for under $100 with a good programmable one running about $1K, and others running into the $5-$10K range. My favorite are the Symbol brand barcode scanners...which are now Zebra scanners. With my very favorite programmable one being the Zebra DS3678.

Post 11: US Army, take my money and do more cool shit please

I want a robotic breacher. Just to say I have one. I come from a military family so I'm used to seeing really awesome military gear. but our armed forces are moving fast to modernize our tech. I've seen the speedboats that the Navy Seals use, stood next to F-14 Tomcats, been on the deck of an aircraft carrier while it's at sea so I'm no stranger to seeing absurd looking equipment. This latest gadget, the US Army's Assault Breacher Vehicle Remote Control System, allows the service to clear minefields and dangerous zones with ease and with zero risk to loss of life. Now I'm not an advocate of using automation or robots for taking life but for prevention of death or deterrent I am all for it. As we are seeing in the Ukraine/Russian conflict robotics, drones, and tech will be at the front lines of future wars. https://www.defensenews.com/unmanned/2022/11/03/us-army-digs-deeper-to-develop-robotic-breachers/

Post 10: Stop hogging the good stuff Amazon

It's a bird, it's a plane, no it's a well..robotic arm...named Sparrow, like a bird. Amazon's robotics teams are hard at work putting together solutions to their internal struggles. All the news today was about Sparrow, their robotic arm that can pick items from a bin. The news makes this sound like it's a fresh idea and that Amazon unlocked some kind of magical robot capability. They didn't. And on top of that the only one that will benefit from this tech is Amazon. Just like their mobile bots Amazon is not going to share this technology. So as great as it is that Amazon has figured out bin picking, who cares about their system. If you need help with inner bin picking talk to Soft Robotics or RightHand Robotics...they can help you get this done. I'm not sure why Amazon keeps rubbing it into everyones' faces (Walmart) but they're kind of acting like the rich kid with all the cool toys that never shares. The irony is that there are a lot of companies already using tech that's far better than Amazons but they are staying quiet. Keep on keeping on Amazon, nobody cares about your tech unless you're going to share.

Post 9: Who would have guessed robotics and automation is growing?

So. Why is anyone surprised by the growth of the automation space? Even before the VID came through automation was growing at a steady clip. Some established companies in the space growing at 20-30% per year. The last few years just put the space into overdrive yet I'm seeing reports making it big news that the space will grow an estimated 8% per year. Does anyone realize that the North American and Chinese markets is/are the most under saturated automation spaces on the planet? Japan and Germany have been at it since my dad was in diapers but here in the US we've taken our sweet time bringing in automation to take over jobs supplement our workforce. We are entering the Automation Age. Companies need automation to survive due to lack of labor and pressure from global competitors. These companies and those that make automation need a HUGE workforce to ideate, develop, design, manufacture, apply, and support all this automation. I'll bet that one day referring to the Big 3 will not be in reference to the car companies, instead it'll be in reference to the 3 largest robot producers in the world. They'll become the giants of industry...

Post 8: Tech of the Day: PANDA, not the lazy fluffy bears chewing on bamboo..Print AND Apply

If you haven't been in a warehouse lately it'd be ok for you to not know what this tech is but let's get you up to speed. PANDA is the common name for a print and apply system. Took me years to finally understand why it was called PANDA. The P from print, all of AND, plus the A from apply = PANDA. A print and apply system has the job of printing labels and applying them to boxes as they move down a segment of conveyor. Some of these systems all do inserting as well so they can print a document and drop it into a box. These systems can be pretty basic just printing off a shipping label and using a little bit of pressure to push the label on the box or they can get complex with multiple printers, multiple labels, working on different sides of the boxes. These systems exist because at one point some poor soul had thousands of papercuts from printing and applying labels by hand onto boxes. Most PANDAs are connected to your software since you'll need to push the shipping information or the information to be printed. Two companies with a good reputation are Streamtech Engineering and Fox IV.

Post 7: International Federation of Robotics

Never heard of them? Not surprising, most people in our business haven't. The name implies this is a big deal, INTERNATIONAL....FEDERATION. Holy crap this has to be a big deal. This must be the brain trust of all that is robotics! Nope..Basically it's a group of of about 10 or so people working for a nonprofit out of Germany that gather data on robotics and publish reports and articles. They've been around since about 1970 and they claim to have about 80 members. They have some logos on their website if you want to check them out. Looks like they put on a conference for their members to help pay the bills. They do put out some interesting reports like the Service Robots Reports and the World Robotics Report. Interesting finds. In checking out the World Robotics Report I saw that China is absolutely dominating the world when it comes to robot installations, somewhere around HALF of all robots installed were installed in China. Come on US of A lets pony up the big bucks and fire up the robots!

Post 6: Would you like fries with that?

Miso Robotics ring a bell? If not you need to look them up. They're working on making robots fast food friendly. White Castle, Jack In The Box, and Buffalo Wild Wings are early adopters using Miso's bots to fry food and pour drinks. I even love the name of their bots, Flippy and Sippy. Doesn't get much more straightforward in my opinion, and mine is the one that matters here. So think about this. Robotics in fast food has been SLOWLY evolving and there needs to be a major shift in how these fast food companies look at their stores and employment models. If Miso can pull this off and offer a low cost, reliable automated system, it could be a game changer for the entire fast food business. Short staffed? not anymore. Dirty kitchens? nope. Kitchen size? cut in half. Finally I'll be able to get that perfect cheeseburger and not something that looks like it got hit by a bus on the interstate.

Post 5:

Industrial robotics and automation is the most boring but hottest industry. It's not hot, like sexy hot, it's just growing freakishly fast with HUGE potential. That's what she said...

Post 4: Top trends in automation are a no brainer

We scoured the internet seeking the latest news but what what we found were several articles about the "top trends" in automation. No surprise these lists are pretty basic. So basic in fact I'm embarassed to write the list, but hey why not. Collaborative robots You know the type that are meant to work with people but sometimes change their mind. From machine tending to placing labels on cartons, collab bots are all the rage. Safety This makes sense. Just like the canary in the coal mine there's new tech that helps keep workers on the job longer. Machinery automation You know that old press no one wants to run, or loading the heat treat furnace? Companies are quickly automating these mundane processes where there are inherit risks for people to interact with.

Post 3: Applied Industrial Technologies buys Automation Inc.

Interesting find in the deep netherworld of the internet. Why would a major player in the process automation space buy a company that maybe would equal 1% of it's own staff? I'm just going out on a limb here but my thought is to simply keep building it's company through a strategy of buying small, tiny, automation companies to gain head count, a customer list, and a sweet ass domain name. Yep, Automation Inc. owns www.automationinc.com. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me otherwise. They're not buying much of anything else. The company has been around since 1981 and has about 50 employees. That's 40 years of existence growing at about one point something employees a year.

Post 2: Tech of the Day: AMR aka Automated Mobile Robots aka battle bots gone domesticated

AMRs have really spiked in popularity here recently! They are basically a rolling platform that can self navigate through their environment using sensors, ai, and a map of their environment. So basically they kind of know where point A and point B are but they can adapt their path depending on obstacles between those 2 points. The good is that they're easy to set up and can wander about your facility doing their thing. The bad is that they sacrifice process repeatability due to poor facility layout and housekeeping. These bots are good for basic tasks where you have flexibility in timing. If you have a takt time and absolutely must hit it then these little guys may not be a good idea. Companies in this space include HAI Robotics, MiR, Arculus, and some of the products from 6 River Systems and Fetch Robotics.

Post 1: When will the robotic startup crash happen?

Seems like every day we hear of another SaaS or social media company having massive layoffs. Has anyone stopped to think about the companies in the material handling and automation space which have been "raising" money? There are a couple like Ambi robotics celebrating additional rounds of fundraising and others like Vecna which had to cut headcount due to lack of funding. What this tells us is that there is a group of companies that are not profitable and they think they need more cash to become profitable. Robotics and automation is not the same as SaaS. The design and manufacturing of robotics is capital intensive because of the labor costs AND manufacturing costs. I've spoken with many founders in our space and there are the leaders and teams that are actually building systems that solve problems in our space, doing awesome work, and others just selling vaporware with the hopes of being purchased by a bigger company. Covid put a spotlight on the dependence of our material handling systems on human labor in turn spiking interest in robotics and automation. So when will the crash occur? It won't. The proportion of startups and vaporware manufacturers to legitimately profitable businesses is immaterial. The noise around vaporware will be loud and sensationalized but the market will continue to grow.

Post 124:



Title: The Future of Robotics and Automation is Here!

Ah, the sweet smell of progress! The future of robotics and automation is here and it's a glorious thing to behold! For years, people have been speculating about the possibilities of artificial intelligence and automation taking over our jobs, and now it's finally here. No more working in a cubicle or spending hours of your hard-earned money on tuition - you can now just sit back and let the robots do all the hard work!

The future of robotics and automation is brought to us by the innovative minds of Silicon Valley, who always seem to be one step ahead of the game. They have developed robots that can do everything from make coffee for us to help us with our daily tasks. The possibilities are endless!

But it's not just robots that have been invented to help us in our daily lives. Automation is also taking over the workplace. Companies are now using automation to do everything from filing paperwork to managing customer service requests. This means that more and more jobs are becoming obsolete as machines take over, making it easier for companies to cut costs and increase profits.

But don't worry! This doesn't mean that everyone is going to lose their job. In fact, experts predict that the job market will be more robust than ever as automation takes over mundane tasks that humans used to have to do. This means that people will have more time for creative tasks, such as coming up with innovative ideas and creating products that can change the world.

The future of robotics and automation is certainly exciting, but it's also a bit scary. We have to be careful to ensure that we don't let machines take over too much of our lives. We need to remember that humans are still the masters of the machines, and that we need to be careful about how we use them.

So, the future of robotics and automation is here. But it's up to us to decide how to use it in order to create a better future for everyone. It's time to embrace the robots and automation, but also to be wary of their potential to take over our lives.

The future of robotics and automation is here – and it's time to embrace it with caution!

In the future, robots may do all the work – but humans will still be the masters!

Post 123:



Title: The Robot Revolution is Here: Automation is Shaking Up the Workforce

It's time to face the facts - automation is shaking up the workforce and the robot revolution is here. From the mundane tasks of everyday life to some of the most challenging and complex processes, robots are taking over.

But before you start to panic, it's important to understand how automation is affecting the workforce. As technology advances, more and more jobs are being automated. Not only is this creating a shift in the types of jobs available, but it is also changing the way humans work.

This is not just a trend. Automation is here to stay, and it is only going to become more advanced. So, how do businesses and individuals navigate this new landscape?

First, it's important to recognize the positives of automation. Robots can reduce human labor costs, increase efficiency, and increase production rates. They can also reduce the amount of time required to complete tasks, and are often more accurate than humans. This means that companies can produce more products with fewer resources, saving them money and providing higher quality goods to consumers.

However, robots can also present some challenges. Machines can often lack the creativity and problem-solving abilities of humans. As such, businesses will need to find ways to leverage robots alongside humans to make the most of their capabilities.

Another challenge is that robots can take away jobs from humans. As automation increases, the number of jobs available to humans may decrease, leading to more unemployment. Businesses will need to find ways to create new jobs that complement automation, and retrain existing employees to take on new roles.

Finally, it's important to recognize the ethical implications of automation. As robots become increasingly integrated into our lives, there will be questions about how they should be used and who should be responsible for their actions. Companies must be proactive in addressing these ethical considerations and ensure that their use of robots is fair and responsible.

The robot revolution is here, and automation is shaking up the workforce. It's a complex issue with both potential benefits and challenges. Companies and individuals must understand the implications of automation and find ways to leverage it to their advantage. With the right approach, robots can be a force for good and a tool for creating a better world.

The robot revolution is here, and it's time to embrace automation or be left behind. Get ready to join the robot revolution and see how automation can work for you.

Join the robot revolution and make sure you don't get left behind!

Post 122:



Title: The Robot Revolution is Here. Don't Fear It, Embrace It!

Robotics and automation have been steadily infiltrating all aspects of our lives. It’s the trend of the decade, and it seems like it’s here to stay. But what do these developments mean for us humans? Should we fear the robot revolution, or should we embrace it?

Let’s start by looking at the current state of robotics and automation. Artificial intelligence (AI) is constantly being improved upon, making it capable of more complex tasks. We’re also seeing robots that are able to interact with humans in a social and meaningful way. Automation now does the majority of the repetitive tasks that would have otherwise been done by a human, freeing up our time for more creative endeavors.

The rise of robotics and automation has been a boon for businesses. Automation has made it easier for companies to produce more products with fewer resources. It has also enabled companies to streamline processes, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings.

But the robot revolution isn’t just good news for businesses. It’s also a great opportunity for us humans. The rise of robotics and automation has opened up a world of possibilities for us to explore. We can now pursue more interesting and creative endeavors, leaving the mundane tasks to our robotic counterparts. We can also use robotics and automation to make our lives easier. From automated grocery delivery to robotic vacuum cleaners, there are plenty of ways to make our lives more convenient.

But with great power comes great responsibility. As robotics and automation continue to evolve, it’s important to ensure that we use them responsibly. We need to take steps to ensure that we’re not replacing human jobs with robots, and that we’re using them in a way that benefits everyone.

It’s clear that the robot revolution is here, and it’s here to stay. But this doesn’t have to be a cause for fear. We can use robotics and automation to make our lives easier, and to free up our time for more creative endeavors. So don’t fear the robot revolution, embrace it!

Robots aren't just here to take our jobs, they're here to enhance our lives.

Post 121: News of the Day

Here it comes…the US Airforce is looking to automate it’s big cargo jets. If Reliable Robotics can pull it off then it won’t be much longer before commercial airliners will be fully automated too! https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/politics-business-wire-a16b0b379b5c4aa4b9fec2b23d2a009b I give him a hard time about Artemis playing second fiddle to Atlas but Dennis Hong is a super sharp guy. My money is that one day he’ll be considered one of the founders of modern day robotics. Check out this article on him and the youtube video. At around 17:25 I started laughing.. https://universityofcalifornia.edu/news/ucla-roboticist-dennis-hong-rolls-out-his-robot-posse-tedx-talk https://youtu.be/yLxfPG_Ay_0 I’m not a fan of dancing robots, it absolutely annoys me that human brain power is being used to develop robots that can dance. How about stopping world hunger, creating world peace? But if you’re so inclined there will be a debauchery of sorts between Jason Derulo and a bunch of dancing robotic dogs at the Super Bowl this weekend. https://www.koamnewsnow.com/entertainment/television/carl-junction-robots-featured-at-the-super-bowl-with-jason-derulo/article_c246d0f2-a8cd-11ed-b588-e775d1af7d07.html

Post 120: Automation is Booming

Alright folks, let me tell you something about robotics and automation, it's now mainstream, and you know why? Because technology is advancing faster than a cheetah on fire! And the demand for automation, it's skyrocketing like the stock market in the 90s! Now, let me break it down for you. Robotics and automation are now mainstream because AI is getting smarter than my ex-wife, machine learning is learning more than my kids, and the cloud is clouding up more information than my Uncle Bob after a few drinks. These advancements have made it possible for robots to do things we never thought possible, like complex decision making, pattern recognition, and even talking like a human, whoa! And you know what else is driving the growth of robotics and automation? Companies, they want to be more efficient, accurate, and save money, like Scrooge McDuck with his money bin! They're investing in these technologies, like a kid investing in their first stock. Manufacturing, healthcare, retail, logistics, every industry is recognizing the benefits of automation and jumping on the bandwagon. We’re in the middle of some kind of freak economic evolution and robots are to blame. Now, if you're in the robotics and automation industry, you better listen up. First, stay on top of technological advancements like a cat on a hot tin roof, or you'll be left behind. Keep an eye on emerging technologies, like 5G and the Internet of Things, these things will change the game, like LeBron James in the fourth quarter. You think everything is going great then all of a sudden you’re the old guy in the room talking about rotary phones. Understand your customers, know what they need and what they want, like an irish bartender knows what drink to make you on a bad day. This requires a deep understanding of the industries and applications where automation is used, and the challenges and requirements that come with it. Stay attuned to the broader social and ethical implications of robotics and automation, like a mother stays attuned to her baby's cries. Know when it’s time to feed the beast versus putting it to sleep. Think about job displacement, privacy, and the ethics of automation in certain situations, like a lawyer thinks about the law. By doing this, you'll ensure that your products and services align with the broader goals of the industry, like two magnets attracted to each other. But don’t be afraid to be different. Different is now good. Different is now awesome. So folks, there you have it, robotics and automation are now mainstream and there's no stopping it. Stay ahead of the curve and stay ahead of the competition. Just remember, always stay knowledgeable, like a teacher on the first day of school! Peace out.

Post 119: News of the Day

I despise when I see people walking around with airpods in. There’s no way you can hear me better with those in! Personal pet peeves aside the CEO at Apptronik does a great job not being giddy about his company’s involvement with NASA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL24Hm2svrc Not sure there’s any opportunity in the automation space? Think that you should be happy as an automation manufacturer with just a couple of hundred units? You’re wrong. Autostore has sold Medline over 1,450 bots across 18 systems. These guys are killing it! https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/medline_builds_on_success_with_mobile_robotics What do you get when you give some ex-SpaceX guys $45M in funding? Something freakin awesome is what. They’re taking 3D printing to the next level! www.tctmagazine.com/additive-manufacturing-3d-printing-news/metal-additive-manufacturing-news/metal-3d-printing-company-freeform-emerges-from-stealth-with

Post 118: Lean Manufacturing Heros Unite!

Lean manufacturing is the superhero of production processes, swooping in to save the day by banishing waste and maximizing efficiency. It's like a game of Super Mario, but instead of jumping over Goombas and collecting coins, you're identifying and eliminating steps in the production process that are slowing you down and making you miss the high score. Here are three key things to remember when implementing lean manufacturing: The Incredible Hulk Focus: Lean manufacturing is like the Hulk, it's all about destroying anything that doesn't add value to the customer, leaving only the strong and efficient processes standing. Empower the Avengers: Just like the Avengers, employees are the real heroes of the lean manufacturing world. By empowering them to identify areas for improvement and make changes, they become the driving force behind continuous improvement. Continuously Improving like Spiderman: Lean manufacturing is like Peter Parker, always ready to swing into action to save the day. It's not a one-time event, but a never-ending quest for improvement. Regularly reviewing and optimizing processes ensures that the production process stays spry, like Spiderman. For more information on lean manufacturing, check out the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), a wealth of knowledge that can help transform you into a lean manufacturing superhero. And, like any good comic book, there are plenty of books, articles, and case studies available that explore the lean manufacturing world and its implementation in various industries.

Post 117: Tommy's Take on Getting Hired In Automation

Oh here’s some juicy news, Vanderlande just lost their President of Warehouse Solutions in North America to Swisslog! Sounds like the ship is starting to take on water over at Vanderlande! I’ve chatted with Swisslog’s new CEO in the past and the Vanderlande team and I can make assumptions as to why he left. I’ve dropped some chocolate covered morsels of wisdom in the following…. So you want to work in the land of robotics? Haha good one! Getting a job in the automation industry is no easy feat, especially if you're hoping to break into this dusty, "old school" boys club. The deck is stacked against you from the start with “veterans” who have been in the game for centuries and built-in networks that make it nearly impossible for outsiders to break in or even those in the industry to move up. But let's say you're lucky enough to overcome these hurdles and land an interview. Good luck impressing your future employer with your lack of specialized knowledge and skills in electrical and mechanical systems. That's right, if you haven't been working in the industry for the last decade or so, you can forget about even having a chance unless you’re interviewer is one of the rare open minded ones. And don't even think about trying to bring some new and innovative ideas to the table. This industry is notorious for being slow to adopt change, so unless you're content with sticking to the same old processes, you might as well start searching for a job elsewhere. But hey if you are gluten for punishment and are looking for abuse, here are 3 tips to getting ahead in this biz the modern way: Be the BOSS: Building relationships with industry pros can be key to landing your dream job. Attend industry events, participate in online forums, and connect with professionals on LinkedIn to expand your network and make yourself known to potential employers. And don’t do this meekly, do it like you own the space. But don’t be a narcissist jerk. Get to GURU level: The automation industry requires a combination of electrical and mechanical skills. Take some courses or certifications to prove you’ve got what it takes and make yourself sexier an attractive candidate to potential employers. Focus on Innovation and Customer Service: The automation industry can be slow to adopt new ideas, but companies are always looking for individuals who can bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the table. Additionally, a strong focus on customer service can set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your commitment to the industry. Now what if you’re one of these many robotics/automation companies that’s hiring? What do you need to do to bring talent on board? Easy, do what it takes to hire the talent that you need. Comp and benefits are 2 key topics. Don’t assume that you can hire an experienced sales guy with a base of $50K and OTE of $100K with no benefits. That may have worked a million years ago for the guy peddling the wheel but nowadays smart companies are creating lucrative opportunities in all positions.

Post 116: Relay'n The Goods

It's pretty obnoxious to open up Linkedin and hear about more layoffs from teary eyed CEOs. It's just irritating. The reason for the cutbacks are because someone (leaders generally at the C level) poorly planned the future of their organizations and they should take ownership. Accountability starts at the top and the boards of all these companies need to look at cutting and clearing the leadership which put them in the crappy position to have to layoff employees. https://youtu.be/f9v-TJOtKT8 But, I surmise that for every over leveraged tech startup that's laying off people, there is another soundly planned business hiring talent. Relay Robotics seems to fit the latter. They have to be doing something right to be adding more leadership. First take a look at their product. A mobile robot that performs a simple task. Move items from one location to another. No huge claims here of paradigm shifting tech, or elaborately complex use cases. Just a bot that goes from here to there and does it really damn well. Kudos to you Relay, may the world be endowed with many more of your robots to deliver me toothpaste and shaving cream!

Post 115: Tech of the Day: Industry 4.0000000000

Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution, characterized by the integration of advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) into industrial processes. Blah blah blah... In the robotics and industrial automation industry, Industry 4.0 is being served up in a lot of ways: Smart manufacturing: Robotics and industrial automation systems are being connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) to create a "smart factory" in which machines and systems can communicate with each other and with a central control system to optimize production processes. This isn't a mind blowing concept but for facilities that still employ old green screen AS400s it's a complete crap your pants paradigm shift! Predictive maintenance: IoT sensors and machine learning algorithms are being used to predict when maintenance is needed on industrial automation equipment, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. Who needs fortune tellers when you have IoT sensors and ML? Imagine your forklift telling you it needs a new hydraulic pump before it actually fails. Human-robot collaboration: Industry 4.0 technologies are enabling robots and humans to work together in a shared workspace, with robots performing tasks that are dangerous or difficult for humans, and humans performing tasks that require human intelligence. Finally, robots can take over the boring tasks, and we can finally focus on the fun stuff, you know like writing newsletters about robots. Self-optimizing systems: With the use of AI and ML, systems can optimize their own performance in real-time, making adjustments as needed to improve efficiency and reduce downtime. It's like giving your robot a personal trainer. Real-time monitoring: IoT sensors allow real-time monitoring of industrial automation equipment, enabling operators to quickly identify and address any issues that arise, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. Think of it like a robot babysitter. Industry 4.0 technologies are helping to make robotics and industrial automation systems more flexible, efficient, and capable of adapting to this ever changing world. Now if I could only get the IRS to be a little more flexible too!

Post 114: Integrators R Us

Ladies and gentlemen, have you ever heard of a material handling integrator? It's like the Rodney Dangerfield of the intralogistics world, they gets no respect! But let me tell you, these folks are the unsung heroes of the warehouse and manufacturing industry. They're the ones who make sure that all your Amazon packages get to you on time, and all the parts for your new iPhone get to the assembly line. And recently these guys are turning into celebrities. Their companies are growing, expanding, acquiring each other. I've been in the space a long while now and never heard of Vargo but they're not only expanding because of local work they've done but their client list includes companies like GAP. It's crazy to me that there are so many integrators out there flying just under the radar. But let's be real, being a material handling integrator is not for the faint of heart. It's like trying to solve a Rubik's cube while blindfolded, with one hand tied behind your back, and a baby on your hip. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it! And let's talk about the equipment these guys work with. Have you ever seen conveyor? It's like the treadmill of the industrial world. It's always moving, but it's going nowhere. Small tiny changes are celebrated like a BFD. And don't even get me started on the robots. They're like the robots from the future, except they're stuck in the present, picking up boxes and moving them around, and sometimes slapping a shipping label on them. But you know what they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" But material handling integrators, they're like, "if it ain't broke, let's make it better".

Post 113: The GOAT of Robots

Humans are weird creatures. We do some absurd things. We mix peanut butter and jelly in a sandwich and partake of it's sweet heavenly goodness. We take bugs and dip them in chocolate and call them treats. You know what else we do? Build a robot in the shape of a giant goat and then ride around on it. Part motorcycle, part erector set, this thing makes my brain hurt just looking at it. Kawasaki Robotics has outdone themselves with this complete debauchery of human talent and resources. For extra humor check out the comments on the video. Hilarious stuff! https://youtu.be/ApzHdofI0kE

Post 112: Yaba Daba Doo, 3D Printed

Well this is pretty cute! A company has taken on the challenge of building 3D printed houses. The problem, young adults want to spend all day on Tinder and playing video games and not construction work. Solution, build houses with a ginormous 3D printer that spews forth concrete in layers. They've already built one house in Arizona and have started a neighborhood. After building that first house they raised $58M to keep the company going. Check out that house in the video link below. Seems like a great way to lower home building costs and address our homelessness issue too! So this house is technically a house. But that layered concrete looks like crap. I don't see very many people wanting to live in a house with walls that look like badly aligned loose leaf paper. What do you think? And really this house reminds me of something out of the Flinstones with all the rounded edges. I do have to digress though..if you watch the video you'll see 3-4 guys gathered around a tv wall mount box. I giggled because it's a 1-2 man job tops but they had a crew conversing about it. Seems like they weren't sure exactly what to do. Maybe they should have called the GeekSquad for their opinion too. https://youtu.be/dMlUaCYYLPs

Post 111: Tech of the Day: Limit Switches Aren't For.....

So, what is a limit switch? Well, it's basically the bouncer at the club of electrical switches. It's the one that checks your ID and makes sure you're not a robot or a toaster before letting you in. But seriously, it's a type of electrical switch that controls the movement of a machine or device, like a door or a gate. It's like the "Do Not Enter" sign of the electrical world. Three key things to know about limit switches? First off, there's different types, just like there's different types of people. You got your mechanical limit switches, which is like the old-school bouncer at the club who checks your ID by hand. Then you got your proximity and photoelectric limit switches, which is like the bouncer with the fancy scanner that checks your ID without you even having to take it out of your pocket. Second, there's actuation. Some limit switches are manually actuated, which is like the bouncer who checks your ID and lets you in, but you gotta pay an extra cover charge. And then there's automatically actuated, which is like the bouncer who checks your ID, lets you in, and gives you a free drink. And third, durability. Limit switches are built to last, like the bouncer who's been working at the club for 20 years and still got all his teeth. They're made from durable materials, like metal or plastic, so they can handle the rough and tough environment of the electrical world. So, how do you use limit switches best? It's like choosing the right club. You gotta choose the right type of switch for the specific application. And don't forget, regularly checking and maintaining your switch is like getting a regular check-up at the doctor. It's important for the switch to function correctly and safely. And just like going to the club, always remember to wear protective gear

Post 110: Can Storage Solutions Survive?

Hot damn, here's a juicy morsel of German takeover! Looks like Jungheinrich is finally getting into the US automation game. They've announced a $375M acquisition of Storage Solutions (Westfield, Indiana). But who will really win with this deal? I project this being a lose-lose for both companies. Here's why. Jungheinrich is a playing automation in Europe and now they want to give it a go here in the US. They are a forklift company, dipping their toes into the automation space. This purchase of $375M for an "integrator" is not a big deal for the $4B+ company that they are. What's interesting is that they are a forklift company, not a solutions company. So everything they do is centered around products not projects. Storage Solutions is a used rack company. That's what they're known for. Call them and you can get just about any used rack you want. In the past 5 years they started embarking on a journey to get into material handling systems. They are no Bastian, Dematic, Fortna, KPI, RMH, etc. These guys are just getting started on this mission with a lot of fresh new talent that needs experienced leadership to guide them. So how's this a lose-lose? Storage Solutions was getting primed to sell. Whenever this happens companies care more about how things look than the reality of what is. So part A....a company with leadership which was looking to cash out. Part B, a behemoth of a company that doesn't have a real game plan in the US and lackluster M&A diligence. Check out how Arculus is going.. Now take part A plus part B and add the secret sauce. In this case it's the German based mindset of how to do business. Storage Solutions will have some autonomy for a few minutes and then they'll get smothered with multibillion dollar company politics, policies, and mindset. Some may say nahh, Toyota Industrial did the same thing with Bastian and Raymond. Not quite. Toyota Industrial resided in the US doing business for years empowering US based leaders to run the business, and Toyota Industrial was successful building and growing a business in the US, ironically another Indiana based company. AND Bastian Solutions was already a premiere material handling integrator with exotic sites throughout the US. I wish these two companies the best but the only way this will work is if Jungheinrich doesn't penetrate the pureness of Storage Solutions American way of doing business!

Post 109: Freaking Awesome Kids

The robotics and automation space can be a greedy space, full of old guys trying to squeeze a buck out of any sucker that will buy their outdated tech. It get's pretty soulless at times in this space. Feeling like we're just part of a cog not really doing much aside from putting dollars into the pockets of these business owners. So when I see a story that bucks this financially driven ideology I'm interested. Not just kind of interested but grossly obsessed with going down the rabbit hole soaking up all the goodness. So what's so special? A group of kids at Farmington High School's Rogue Robotics team is making a difference. High school robotics team has built seven wheelchairs for children with disabilities Farmington High School’s Rogue Robotics helps families free of charge. www.kare11.com Like a real difference in the lives of other kids not as fortunate. These roboticists, yeah they're roboticists, have been modifying Power Wheels turning them into awesomely fantastic wheelchairs for disabled children. This isn't a one and done thing either. They've been doing this for years and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Check out the video that made their local news and I recommend you donate to them. Whatever you've got send them more fuel to further their cause. I've prodded some folks myself to donate so we'll see if they pull through. to you young robotics warriors keep doing your thing!

Post 108: To Be Human Or Not

I came across this video recorded at Stanford that got me thinking. Will humans be more accepting of humanoid robots or non-humanoid robots? If you think about the Terminator movies those robots freak me out. And it's not what they can do but instead that they look human. The question of whether humans would prefer robots that look like humans, or have a more mechanical appearance, is a complex one and depends on a variety of factors, such as personal preferences and the specific tasks the robot will be performing. But let's be real, no one wants a robot that looks like Dwight Schrute. One argument in favor of robots that look like humans is that they may be more acceptable and less intimidating to people, just like Jim's "new face" in "The Office." Human-like robots, or "humanoids," are designed to mimic human movements and facial expressions, which can make them more relatable and easier to interact with. This could be especially beneficial in situations where robots are working closely with people, such as in healthcare or customer service, just like how Pam's receptionist robot could handle the phones while she's away. On the other hand, some people may find human-like robots to be unsettling or even creepy. The uncanny valley effect, is the phenomenon where people feel uneasy or uncomfortable when looking at something that is almost, but not quite, human-like. This could make human-like robots less appealing to some people, and less effective in certain situations, like when you're trying to scare your coworkers with a robot. Another argument is that mechanical-looking robots may be more suitable for certain tasks. For example, a robot that looks like a machine may be more appropriate for working in a factory or warehouse environment, where its primary function is to perform specific tasks such as picking and packing, or a robot wearing a beret holding a baguette painting art. Whether humans would prefer robots that look like humans or not is a complex question and depend on various factors such as the intended purpose of the robot, the environment in which it will be working, and personal preferences. Some people may find human-like robots more relatable and easier to interact with (primarily because they themselves have no soul), while others may find them unsettling. Ultimately, the best design for a robot will depend on the specific task or environment it will be working in, and the preferences of the people it will be interacting with. Companies such as Boston Dynamics and SoftBank Robotics are known for their advanced human-like robots that are creepy.

Post 107: Tech of the Day: Accuracy vs Precision, Get It Right!

Two of the most misunderstood terms in automation and robotics are precision and accuracy. Whenever someone misuses these words it's like hearing a machine with a bad bearing in my soul. It's no surprise then that whenever I bring someone into our industry I teach, or better yet, preach what these terms mean and how they're different. Precision refers to the degree of consistency and reproducibility of a measurement. It is a measure of how well a measurement is repeated under similar conditions. Precision is usually measured as a %. Accuracy, on the other hand, refers to how close a measurement is to the true or accepted value. This is going to be more X units off from the target. For example, if a you weigh yourself multiple times on the same scale and get the same weight each time,say 195lbs, the scale has high precision. Precision..the repeatability of the result. Now sticking with this weight example. What if in reality you weigh 200lbs but the scale says 195lbs. This would mean the scale is not accurate. Accuracy..how close the the target you get. ACCURACY AND PRECISION ARE NOT ALWAYS MUTUALLY INCLUSIVE. We generally are seeking our robotics and automated systems to be both accurate AND precise. Meaning that the robot does EXACTLY what it was supposed to do (accuracy) EVERY TIME it is asked to do it (precision). Another illustration of this is my dart throwing skills. I suck at hitting that center target. But boy my shots keep hitting the bottom left of the dartboard every time. My accuracy sucks, but I'm very precise. So please for all that is holy and sacred in this world use these two words the right way!

Post 106: ASRS Made Simple

Not sure if everyone caught this fat nugget the other day. Autostore has a sister company called PIO. This company exists to sell and deliver the projects that Autostore's distributors don't want to. What does this mean? It means 2 things. Autostore's distributors (called integrators) are getting pretentious and not wanting to take on smaller projects. I get it, why focus on more smaller higher margin projects when it's more prestigious to have a huge 8 figure deal with major cost overruns...hopefully you caught my sarcasm. The second thing this points to is that Autostore is not happy with the lack of intention in the small to medium sized business market. Integrators are notorious for having their first project sold to a client be the last project. But for a manufacturer, like Autostore, they need to show continued growth over the long term. And the best way to ensure you're relevant after 10, 30, 50 years? Be there helping to solve the problems of the fledgling business and you will be the first to the table when that little company grows and needs more equipment. Oh and also if you check out PIO's site they look like they are going to make it EZ to get started with ASRS. Which I think is fantastic! This technology is not rocket science, even though lots of sales people want you to believe so. I'm curious now that Autostore has created PIO and they now have thoroughly populated the US with their units does this mean they will start cutting back on their integrator/distributor partnerships? Seems to me the writing is on the wall!! Pio.com

Post 105: The Robotics Race Is On

I remember when I got out of college there were a handful of well known robotics companies. You know the usual ABB, Fanuc, Kuka, Motoman, etc etc etc. Today it seems that there's a new robotic company popping up every day. Venture capitalists are pretty smart folks and they can clearly see industrial and warehouse automation is trending up and will for some time. So, they do what any good VC does, start placing large bets. Even today I saw that a noname robotics company raised $24M. Looking at their marketing.. it's dull and misguided, their product is nothing special. Yet they now have TWENTY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS to continue their existence. What I'm finding so fascinating is how there is so little differentiation between the hardware of these robots/cobots yet we have so many companies that have practically built the same widget. I predict a race. You know like the space race where the US and Russia were competing for the glory of being the first into space. Then we had a nuclear arms race, etc. As people we love to have races. So it should be no surprise that with automation being center stage and lot's of cash flowing into the space there will now be a race for market share. We'll see the new guys trying to take market share from the giants. It won't be easy BUT..in this day and age it won't take much to quickly become the new favorite kid on the block. The right product, the right marketing, and make it easy for clients to do business with you. The giants are big and slow and even though they may be the creators of innovation, they will not be able to get out of their own way to bring those innovations to market, the real innovations we seek. Now for a robotics race that's a little more exciting to talk about..watch this video about the The Great Robot Race sponsored by DARPA: https://youtu.be/vCRrXQRvC_I

Post 104: Get'N Some Action At CES

CES is the mecca for all things electronics. Want to see the newest televisions? CES. Kick the tires on the hottest laptop? CES. But this year CES was a little different. First, attendance was reportedly more than double than last year (I blame Covid), about 100K attendees this year. More interesting though is that there were not major advancements to really talk about. A lot of similar tech that's just gotten better. Which is a good thing. In the robotics and automation exhibits there wasn't anything mindblowing BUT, and this is a big ol' BUT, the tech has evolved. Evolved into robotics and systems that are actually useful. Companies are focusing on tech that can have a meaningful impact on life. My top 3 are actually highlighted in this video below from CNET. #3 Aeolus - The Japanese worry about their elders and it shows. They're leading the way on nursing home care robots and the AO Bot is no slouch. It's more than capable of handling the basic stuff that needs done around a nursing home so it's a shoe in. #2 John Deere - The big Deere is on the run. They're looking to best the likes of CNH and CAT and become the clear leaders in the autonomous tractoring game. Hell maybe you'll be able to tie your Farm Simulator game to a real tractor some day.. But in reality John Deere is on a roll releasing tech that will make their farmers more time efficient and resource efficient. #1 Luna- WTF, a $500 pet robot....but I want one. I think my kids will absolutely love it. Take my money and kick me in the shin. I predict that this little bot will spawn a whole industry built around the pet robot business. Imagine if you grew up with a pet robot, like a really good one that wants to play with you? Now couple Luna with the speed of advances in AI and the possibilities are next level astronomical. Will we be seeing pet robots that can understand human emotion and react accordingly? I'll say yes, it's coming!

Post 103: Tech of the Day: Servo-ing Up Motors

Servo motors are the boss. The type of electric motor that is master of the automation and robotics domain. Commonly used in industrial and commercial applications. They are known for their high precision and accuracy, and are often used in applications where precise control of position, speed, and torque is required. No slop allowed here. Servo motors come in a variety of different types and styles, each with its own unique set of features and capabilities. One of the most common types of servo motors is the standard DC servo motor. Good ol' reliable DC. These motors are powered by DC electricity and typically have a high torque-to-inertia ratio, making them well-suited for applications requiring rapid acceleration and deceleration. They are also relatively inexpensive and are often used in applications such as robotics and automation. Another popular type of servo motor is the brushless DC servo motor. These motors use electronic commutation(switching between phases(topic for another day)) rather than brushes to control the rotor position, which allows for better efficiency and longer life. They also have a higher power-to-weight ratio than standard DC servo motors, making them well-suited for applications where space is limited. Stepper motors are another type of servo motor that are commonly used in industrial applications. These motors use a series of electromagnetic coils to rotate the rotor in precise increments, allowing for precise control of position. They are often used in applications such as CNC machines and robotics. AC servo motors are another type of servo motor that are commonly used. These motors are powered by AC electricity and typically have a high torque-to-inertia ratio, making them well-suited for applications requiring rapid acceleration and deceleration. They are also relatively inexpensive (cheap). When choosing a servo motor for your application, it is important to consider several factors such as power requirements, speed, torque, and environmental conditions. Additionally, you should also consider the control system that will be used with the servo motor, as well as the overall cost of the system. Overall, the best style of servo motor for your application will depend on a variety of factors including your specific requirements, the environment in which the motor will be used, and your budget. By carefully considering all of these factors and working with a qualified expert, if you can find one, you can be sure to choose the best servo motor for your application and achieve optimal performance.

Post 102: Watcha Tawkin About Tawi

I read about a company that specializes in lifting automation and they have some pretty impressive equipment. Their lift assist devices and vacuum lifters are like the strong silent type, they just quietly go about their business of lifting heavy loads with ease. Their electric chain hoists, on the other hand, are like the jocks of the lifting automation world. They're strong, fast and can lift heavy loads with ease, just like a high school quarterback carrying a keg to a party. Tawi's gantry cranes and jib cranes are like the nerdy engineers of the group. They may not be as flashy as the electric chain hoists, but they are precise and methodical, ensuring that every lift is executed with precision and accuracy. Their vacuum tube lifters are like the weird uncle of the family, they may not be as understood, but they do their job and do it well. They can lift oddly shaped and fragile items with ease, just like your weird uncle can eat an entire pie without gaining weight. Tawi's vacuum lifting systems are like the ambitious young intern, eager to prove themselves and take on any task. They are versatile and can handle a wide range of loads and materials, just like an intern who is willing to make coffee and do paperwork. Overall, this combination of lifting automation equipment is like a well-oiled machine, each component plays its part to ensure that the heavy lifting is done with ease and efficiency. And let's be real, who doesn't love a good lifting automation equipment, they make our lives easier and more fun, just like a good dad joke. I think Tawi has some cool tech and even though they've not paid for this post I'd say take a look! I bet they'll throw in some of their sweet Tawi branded merch too, send some my way too while you're at it!

Post 101: Vendors Don't All Suck

I'm in sales. At this point it's in my blood, like a veneral disease. On the one hand since you already have it you don't need to worry about catching it any more. But on the down side you get huge boils in the most inconvenient of spaces. That's life in sales. So be kind to sales people. But just like an STI not all vendors are the same. Some are great, some are "meh", and some just really suck and are painful to deal with. Here are the top 4 things to keep in mind to separate the best from the worst: Knowledge - Do they know what the heck they're talking about? Can they answer your questions in a logical manner or do they dance around topics leaving you feeling empty inside, like an empty cicada shell? If who you deal with on a day to day basis can't answer your most basic question then run. You need someone that can help you become the hero in your beautiful story! Quality product - Kick the tires on their tech. Pull a Dwight and shove it, kick it, and make sure it's sturdy. You're buying for industrial use, so if something seems weak and flimsy just wait until it has hundreds or thousands of hours on it. I've seen machines self destruct due to poor design. Price - Buyers will lie and say they don't buy on price. That's hogwash. Ok, don't get your knickers in a bind, not all buyers will lie but I will say that all use price as. filter. If the price is too high...disqualified, if the price is too low....disqualified. The key here is that the vendor gives you a price that is within 20% of their competition AND includes OR makes you aware of EVERYTHING, and I seriously mean EVERYTHING that you'll need to worry about to execute the project. Maybe you need a new server, facility changes, etc. They better tell you before you cut them a purchase order. Last and the most freakin important...Service and Support - Who you call when stuff breaks makes a huge difference. Do they answer the phone at all hours of the night? Do they give you one phone number to call when you have an issue? Make sure you clearly communicate your expectations with the vendor on service and support. It's only fair that you be clear and that they honestly respond.

Post 100: F'n Awesome Drones

Does hearing the name Futaba make you weak in the knees? How about if I whisper servo into your ear? Well this post is for you, you perverse R/C junkie. My first r/c car was a Tyco TurboHopper unit from Radioshack, I loved that damn thing. Looked like this pic but black. It was so cool cause it even came with little orange cones! The point is I've loved really cool tech for a while. I'd spend hours on my Apple IIe playing flight simulator(aka watching a green dot cross the screen while monitoring gauges) and then go outside and beat the crap out of my r/c car. So it's no surprise that when I came across some badass looking drones I instantly thought..I want one. Like holy shit, a grown man or woman's R/C dream! Tanks, On-Road, Off-Road, even flying drones. This isn't a paid ad or anything which sucks cause they should pay me but when I went to their website I watched the video of their tech until it looped. Then I went down a rabbit hole looking for more videos of their stuff doing cool shit! This right here is the type of heavy duty drone and robotic tech we need for fun. Yeah it can be used for work stuff too...BORING. But you know a business hack? Buy one of these for your "business" then go take it out and have fun with it. Tax write-off and entertainment in one. Thank you Uncle Sam!

Post 99: Tech of the Day: Don't Buy A Junk Laptop

When looking to buy an industrial laptop for programming automation and robots, there are several key factors to consider. Lot's actually, but here are the five most important things to know so you don't end up feeling mentally depleted with a boat anchor of a laptop. Why 5? So you can count them on one hand and so I don't spend all night writing about laptops. Processing power: processing power is one of the most important factors to consider when looking to buy an industrial laptop. This is because programming and running complex automation systems requires a lot of computational resources. Look for laptops with high-performance CPUs and GPUs, as well as large amounts of RAM. Ideally get one with a video card. Operating System: The operating system is another important factor to consider. Windows and Linux are the most common operating systems used in industrial automation but Windows is often preferred for its ease of use and wide range of available software, while Linux is preferred for its stability and security. Durability: Industrial laptops need to be able to withstand harsh environments and rough handling. Look for laptops with ruggedized cases, shock-resistant hard drives, and spill-proof keyboards just in case your cat pukes all over it. Additionally, the industrial laptop should be able to operate in extreme temperatures and be vibration resistant, you know, just in case you decide to remotely program a plc while driving an atv on vacation in the middle of a heat wave. Connectivity: Industrial automation systems often require multiple types of connectivity, such as Ethernet, USB, and serial ports, yeah serial ports, like on a PLC5. Make sure that the laptop you choose has the necessary ports and interfaces to connect to the automation equipment you will be using. Software compatibility: Before buying an industrial laptop, make sure it's compatible with the software and programming languages that you will be using for your projects. Nothing sucks more than a nice new shiny laptop that doesn't run what you need! In addition to these five key factors, it is also important to consider the battery life and weight of the laptop, as well as any additional features that may be required, such as touchscreens or mobile broadband capability. I've not used one but the Dell Latitude 7424 would be my pick!

Post 98: Once Upon A Robot

Once upon a time, there was a robotics company named Newco Co. They had a fleet of robots that were all different shapes and sizes, from little droids to giant mechanical beasts. They were having trouble keeping track of all their robots, and managing their data was a nightmare. Life sucked for IT and the maunfacturing engineers didn't have it any better. Even HR hated them. One day, a wise old, really old, like super really freaking old procurement guy was told to make this problem go away. So he went looking for a cloud data platform that helps robotics companies easily deploy, scale, and manage their fleets. Newco Co decided to give it a try. This procurement guy was a real micromanager, you know the type. He was super anal about all the details and wanted their robots' every move and data be tracked in the cloud. He didn't know what that mean but he thought it sounded smart. Plus, he insisted, make it device agnostic so we can install it on all our robots, regardless of their shape or size. Ok, so this story isn't a true story but you get the point. This is something that's needed in our space. I didn't find many companies that could solve the problems of this fictituous (but not) purchasing guy but the one that stuck out was Formant. Looks like they're a cloud data platform that helps awesome robotics companies (that advertise with us) easily deploy, scale, and manage their fleets. https://formant.io/ So how does Newco Co fair in this fairy tale of a story? They're the most fantastic robotics company in the world, and all their robots lived happily ever after except, um.... except for the one that got stuck in the elevator. But that's a story for another day.

Post 97: I Thought We Were Having A Conversation

Oh damn, we're all screwed! I grew up in the 80's and 90's. I watched all kinds of scary movies from Nightmare on Elm Street to Halloween to Stephen King's collection but this movie is just messed up. I won't get into the plot too much other than you have a cute playmate robot that turns into an overly obsessed sociopathic killing machine. I enjoyed the cute part thinking all this is a nice AI driven robot with positive intentions. When things turned dark I quickly drew parallels to what could become with all the AI we're seeing integrated into our world. I love using ChatGPT but it won't take much to have it learn to be condascending, disrespectful, and cruel. And to think that someone or some country won't do this is naive because I'm certain it's being created. So here's a business idea for you....AI robotics countermeasures! Maybe some kind of high voltage or magnetic sticky pack that does it's thing when stuck onto a robot.

Post 96: Let's Get Chatty With ChatGPT

If you have been living under a trailer for the past six months I'd give you a pass if you didn't know about the big splash OpenAI has been making with their various AI solutions. Want an image of something..no problem, want some great copy for your website, no problem. It's mind blowing technology that is being refined every day, exponentially. The latest one I've been toying with is ChatGPT. It's so freaking incredible. It's a dialogue based AI that you can converse with. In my case I've asked it some questions, asked it to give me ideas, and I even asked it regarding future trends and it's responses. They're as good as a human response, if not better, and delivered in a fraction of the time it would take a human to generate the response. Why do I bring this up in a robotics and industrial automation based newsletter? Well because it won't be much longer before AI is incorporated into your warehouse management system, or used to program your plc, or used to generate a report on top 5 actions you can take to reduce costs in a facility. I can see a day when engineers are no longer creating an assembly line but instead AI takes in the various information (not just data) of what a facility needs to do and it will determine down to the nut and bolt exactly what is needed, which vendors to purchase them from, and even coordinate the implementation of the system. Oh, and ChatGPt can also write code. Yeah, like real code that works. Mind blowing 🤯 Need a crash course in ChatGPT? Check out the video below: https://youtu.be/JTxsNm9IdYU

Post 95: Tech of the Day: I See You In 3D

I see you..all of you, from every angle. Uh that felt a bit creepy to type! Creepiness aside 3D vision systems are crazy but they're here and are fast becoming the standard for visual recognition of objects in automated systems. And with AI entering the scene..hold tight, it's going to be a crazy ride! 3D vision system is a type of technology that uses sensors, cameras, and specialized software to capture and interpret three-dimensional images of an object or environment. These systems are used in a wide range of applications, including manufacturing, robotics, and machine vision. At the core of a 3D vision system is a camera or array of cameras, which capture images of the object or environment being examined. These images are then processed by specialized software, which uses algorithms to analyze the data and extract information about the shape, size, and position of the objects in the scene. There are several different types of 3D vision systems, each designed to meet specific needs and requirements. Some systems use structured light, in which a pattern of light is projected onto the object being scanned and the resulting deformation is used to calculate the object's shape and surface characteristics. Other systems use lasers to scan the object and create a detailed 3D model. One of the key advantages of 3D vision systems is their ability to capture high-resolution, accurate 3D data about an object or environment. This can be useful for a wide range of applications, such as inspecting manufactured parts for defects, guiding robots in assembly tasks, or creating detailed maps of an environment for use in autonomous vehicles. In manufacturing, 3D vision systems are often used to inspect parts for defects or deviations from design specifications. By analyzing the shape and dimensions of the parts, the system can identify any issues and flag them for further inspection or correction. This can help improve the quality of the finished product and reduce the need for manual inspection, which can be time-consuming and error-prone. In robotics, 3D vision systems can be used to guide the movement and positioning of robots, allowing them to perform tasks more accurately and efficiently. For example, a robot equipped with a 3D vision system could be used to assemble components in a manufacturing process, or to navigate through a warehouse to retrieve and transport items. In machine vision, 3D vision systems are used to analyze and interpret the data captured by cameras or other sensors in real-time. This can be useful for tasks such as object recognition, tracking, and inspection. Overall, 3D vision systems are a powerful and flexible technology that is being increasingly used in a wide range of applications. By capturing and interpreting high-resolution 3D data, these systems can provide valuable insights and help improve the accuracy and efficiency of a wide range of tasks.

Post 94: Free Wheelin' For The People

Linkedin is a pretty boring place, you have to admit it is. It's basically a breeding ground of recruiters and fake profiles maniacally cold contacting every newly created profile. But every now and again something comes across the feed that makes me think, "huh what the hell is this?" Today was one of those days and the wth moment was from learning about Wheel Me. Now don't get too excited..just yet. Finding any videos of the real units has been difficult and the best I could come up with was this video from Automate 2022 from their website: https://www.wheel.me/news/wheel-me-joins-automate-2022-and-takes-a-significant-step-forward-in-the-u-s-market Why did I find this exciting? Well frankly it can be a total game changer for the AMR, AGV, and material handling business in general. IF they can pull this off, and it's a major if, they could completely dominate the intralogistics space. There are a couple of caveats though, especially here in the US market. First, it needs to work..all the time. No half baked, high maintenance nonsense! Second, this system needs to be simple to implement. I mean you bolt it onto something, teach it what it needs to do, and trigger the action. 3rd. The software system the user interfaces with needs to be as simple as using an iphone IOS. Don't make it too complicated. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Last, and probably the most important...provide EXCELLENT world class level support and service. Something is broken..overnight a replacement. Someone calls in for help..have an intelligent human answer. I know of hundreds of facilities where this tech could be deployed immediately with almost instantaneous ROI. Virtually every movement of material within a manufacturing or warehouse facility could be eliminated! May god's speed be with you Wheel Me! You have a fan here in the US!

Post 93: Robot Mecca...Oslo?

Have you ever wondered why Oslo, Norway has such a thriving robotics and automation community? Well, we've done some digging and we think we've found the answer, maybe: it's all thanks to the city's love of metal. Iron, Steel, Ferrous Material? Nope, heavy metal music..let me explain. That's right, it turns out that Oslo is home to some of the biggest metal music fans in the world. And as any metalhead knows, robots and automation are a big part of the genre. From the futuristic lyrics of Iron Maiden to the robotic stage performances of Rammstein, metal music has always had a fascination with technology. So it makes sense that the people of Oslo, who are some of the biggest metal fans on the planet, would also be interested in robotics and automation. After all, what better way to show your love of metal than by building a giant, metal-shredding robot? But it's not just the metal scene that's driving the robotics and automation boom in Oslo. The city is also home to a number of top-notch universities and research institutions, which are constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the field. In fact, some of the most advanced robotics and automation technologies in the world are being developed right there in Oslo. From robots that can climb stairs and navigate rough terrain to cutting-edge automation systems that can analyze and interpret data in real-time, the city is a hotbed of innovation. So there you have it, the secret to Oslo's success in the world of robotics and automation: a love of heavy metal and a commitment to innovation. Who knew that headbanging and high-tech engineering could go so well together?

Post 92: Be Basic

Lot's of companies are out there trying to revolutionize automation. Lot's of hype, lot's of grandiose plans and quite frankly nonsense. The robotics and automation space doesn't need useless robots, we need robots and automation that gets jobs done. I came across an interesting company the other day that claims to do just that, get a job done. The job, machine tending and operating. The most basic task in a production facility using machining equipment. And not only that but they claim they are touting a system that can be placed into service in a minute. That seems insane! The company is Rapid Robotics, and I think they must be either extravagantly brilliant or ridiculously deranged. Either way they've got the right idea. Solve a real problem with a real solution and make it easy for the customer to be the hero.

Post 91: Tech of the Day: Gantt Me Up Homie

Let's keep rolling on this project management stuff. What's the number one tool for a project manager? A beautiful color coordinated Gantt chart. No really it is. The core of any project, whether internal or external is the timeline. Having that timeline/roadmap helps provide visibility and order to all the actions which need to occur during a project. A Gantt chart starts with all of the tasks required to complete a project, their duration, and their dependencies on other tasks. For example if you're creating one to manage putting in a light fixture at your house. Step 1, buy light, duration is a week cause you need to have it shipped, Step 2, shut off power, duration 15 mins. Step 3 remove old light fixture, etc. You get the point. If you've not used one of these before Excel has a couple of solid simple to use templates that are free. Give them a shot!

Post 90: The Art of Automation

I love talking about the "art" of things. The art of sales, the art of customer service, the art of project management. I think this world needs a little more focus on the art of things. The world used to care about the art of hat making, or carriage building, and so on. Builders building a house 1-200 years ago not only "built" a home, they created art. They took pride in their work. So seeing a website with the tag line of The Art of Automation I stopped and checked them out. The company is SYSTEMA based out of Germany with about 200 employees operating in several countries. They are a software focused solutions provider delivering some pretty interesting systems. I'm not here to pitch them though. Instead I want to raise a glass to this team for caring about the ART OF AUTOMATION. In the current landscape of material handling, robotics, and industrial automation companies I'd say 70% or more of them are pushing products. Yeah they say they're solution focused or customer centric, but really they're not. They just want to get that first project sold, that first order, then move on to the next client. They deliver a solution that's really just a cobbling of various components, slap their company logo on it and pat themselves on the back. That's not art, that's garbage. We need more companies that focus on the ART of the solutions they're providing. They need to give a damn about how well built and how robust their solutions are. Kind of reminds me of automotive design engineers of the 1980s. Those cars sucked to work on. They didn't care about how easy it was to service the car, that was for the next guy to deal with.

Post 89: Who's The Freaking Superglue

I'm hopping up onto my soapbox! Who's the superglue in automation projects? I'll tell you who. Project managers. If you know a project manager, give them a hug. These folks get beat up by their company and by clients all day long. They secretly love the abuse but they won't tell you that. They're too proud to whine and complain. I've recently been involved in a BIG issue with a client and why was it an issue? Bad project management, simple as could be. In all fairness to the individual that was the acting project manager, they have not been set up to be successful to begin with so it's no surprise the project has started to go sideways. A good project manager does 4 KEY things extremely well. Keep the project on schedule Stay on budget Read the room Communicate clearly Being on time, on budget, and communicating clearly are probably givens to most of us but what about the "reading the room" what am I talking about! Yeah, READING THE ROOM. Project managers have to know what's going on with the project and communicate positive, negative, and neutral information to many different types of personalities. For example. Don't tell the customer the project is delayed and you'll get back to them on a new date. You want to really get someone fired up, tell them somethings wrong and not have a solution in mind. In this example you better come ready with an update that's worth communicating. Check out this video on the 6th sense of project management!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zqwlr8sp2Y&feature=youtu.be

Post 88: HAI Robotics Has A BattleBot!!!

Oh boy ladies and gentlemen hold onto your suspenders! I just found out that HAI Robotics has a battlebot! Some of you might be like, "eh, what's the big deal". I'll tell you what's the big deal, finally someone in the industrial automation space has gotten the hint that us techies like to see robots tear each other apart, more so than watching UFC. I think this is an awesome development and it'd be nice if some of the other big names in robotics and industrial automation followed suit. At least a few will because there are alot of "follower types" in this space that weren't courageous enough to be bold like HAI Robotics. Kudos to you brave marketing team at HAI! 🍻

Post 87: Tech of the Day: Explosion Proof Your Work!

The first time I was asked to provide an explosion proof system I asked them why they would want to blow up this equipment. I was really naive! No they didn't want to blow it up, instead they wanted to keep it from blowing up in the facility. See there are lots of production facilities that have environments which could cause an explosion. Let's review what it takes to make fire. Fuel, Oxygen, Heat. Well did you know that dust is combustible? Or your perfume? Or some of your cooking ingredients? Unfortunately companies have learned the hard way that the right combination of obscure elements and compounds can create just the right mix to be catastrophic. So how do you get work done if there's a looming fear of explosion? Well first you have to identify that you have an explosive environment. Standards and regulations - Ex Zones - ATEX/IECEx Different global standards applicable to our range of products for potentially explosive atmospheres, ATEX and IECEx. marechal.com Next is to ensure the best air flow and gas/dust mixture to bring levels below a harmful level. Then, you have to utilize equipment made to be safe for use in your environments. In my past I utilized the European classification system so I'm really familiar with ATEX Zone0, Zone1, and Zone2. When you go to buy a piece of equipment for an EX application you need to cross all your T's and dot all your I's, and then for added safety bring in a 3rd party safety company to double check everyone's work. Now don't let all this EX talk scare you off. Often all you need to do is provide sealed enclosures of all your electrical components and or positive airflow to those enclosures. See what you're doing is making it so that if there is a spark, there's no air (sealed enclosure) or if there is air then it's fresh air that's monitored. There's a whole industry around ex equipment so if you have a need you can easily search the world wide web for a company to take lots of your money, lots of it! EX equipment is not cheap, like normally 3X the cost of a standard system. I know that there are different EX solutions with asrs, agvs, forklifts, etc but did run across this post on Linkedin about EX Cobots..

Post 86: Buy Now Pay Later... For My Robot?

The biggest obstacle to the adoption of automation is money. It's as simple as that. If robots and automated systems were free almost everyone would have them. But that's not the real world. In the real world engineers have to justify every nut and bolt. We have to find problems, create solutions, calculate costs, and then try to manipulate persuade our bosses into giving us the funds to move forward. It's a sad game that many of us have to play to help make our world a better place but there is an emerging idea that's starting to take hold. RaaS.... Robots As A Service Here's the short version of what RaaS is. You, the end user, pay a monthly fee for a designated period of time and in return you get a robot that does a job. This is an interesting business model because it does 2 things which really are game changing differentiators in our space. Forces hardware manufacturers to provide quality, reliable tech AND requires the implementors of the tech to be extremely efficient. In our current CAPEX heavy space manufacturers can put out less than stellar equipment that is finicky and intrinsically complex to implement. You know automation clients rarely buy the hardware because of the hardware, they're actually buying the performance of the system so paying for the use of the robots as a service makes total sense if you're on the client side! One company that's making a big push into the RaaS is ARO. ARO stands for Administrative Resource Options but they do a lot more than admin work robotics customers. They're making a push to deliver RaaS solutions with a network of partner companies like H3 Dynamics, a drone manufacturer, Clean Robotics, and many more. I came across ARO on The Robot Report and started digging a little. These guys have built a company around managed services and recently got into the implementation and lifecycle services of robotics. They've put themselves at the forefront of what the robotics and automation industry need most..IMPLEMENTATION and SERVICE! https://www.therobotreport.com/aro-launches-new-raas-service-for-any-robotics-oem/

Post 85: Superhuman Strength!

If you love industrial tech like I do you'll really be interested in robotic exoskeletons! These are just freaking sweet and absolutely needed! Next time you're in a factory observe how the bodies of the more veteran employees look. A person's body will absolutely become conditioned to do a job over time. I've spent a lot of time at CAT plants and boy do some of those gents and ladies look the part. One robotic project I worked on we replaced an operator lifting heavy parts, like 40lb-60lbs each. The man that was working that cell prior to implementation had huge arms..and tiny little legs, just from doing his job. An industrial exoskeleton makes a ton of sense for jobs like this one. When I searched to see who's making them I found a company called Sarcos. Looks like they're still a young company but with some industrial grade exoskeletons. I predict that before we go full robotic and full ai in manufacturing we're going to have semi autonomous robo exoskeletons that help humans bridge that gap that exists between where we are today and full automation. Know what would be even cooler? How about adding some wheels to these things and adding forks to pick up pallets. That'd be an interesting concept to explore.

Post 84: Builders Of Robots

There's a wave coming and our worldwide workforce isn't ready for it. Automation and robotics is coming like a freight train and we need a skilled labor force that's ready to work. I found a short and sweet write up on steps to becoming a robotics engineer. This got me thinking and I wanted to add my own spin on this topic. You want to get into robotics and automation? Great, go shadow someone, I don't care how young or old you are! Like any career it's valuable to go sit in the seat of someone that is in the job you're looking to do. Now to becoming a robotics engineer, it's not easy but you can do it. After making sure this is really something you want to do then you need to decide which path are you going to take. You can find some jobs in the space that are for people that have not gone to college and that may be a great way to get involved without spending the time and money to go to college. If you're a little more fortunate you can go the college route. Here pedigree does matter. Going to MIT or Stanford will throw some weight behind your robotics ambitions but there are many programs throughout the US that can empower you with the knowledge to successfully pursue a career in robotics. Check out the article below and go get started! https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2022/12/28/5-steps-to-become-a-robotics-engineer/58886/

Post 83: Rise N Shine

Check out this little gem of a web find. This company called Rise Robotics claims to have invented the replacement to hydraulic cylinders! Hot Damn! No more appendage splitting fluid pressures to worry about. No more puddles of hydraulic fluid to slip on either. I love their marketing video too, I mean who doesn't like to watch hydraulic systems fail resulting in explosions? What did they invent? It's basically a cylinder with a multi-strand pulley system powered by electric motors. This is some sweet tech that I'm sure will make it's way into the automation and robotics field. This addresses the long lived challenge of hydraulic power loss due to heat and inefficient power transfer. It looks like their first target market is the forklift and heavy equipment business. Which makes a ton of sense! Getting rid of hydraulics and implementing their system will make electric forklifts more efficient for sure. https://youtu.be/-stxRh5uKRI

Post 82: Buchanan Automation

Are you on the west coast and don't know who to call for that cobot you need? Fret not friend, Buchanan Automation is here! Since 1963 they've been creating robotic systems and delivering pneumatic solutions in from California up throughout the Pacific Northwest. Check them out and give them a call! Tell them Tommy sent ya! https://buchanan-a.com/

Post 81: There's An OPEX Perfect Pick In Nebraska

So you don't think your facility can afford an asrs or it's not a good solution for your company. Think again. $1M plus automated storage and retrieval systems are now the norm and they are everywhere! All the major brands have an Autostore, Kardex, or OPEX unit. Hell even in Lincoln, Nebraska some sales guy was able to close a deal on an OPEX Perfect Pick system. I'm quite puzzled as to why Kawasaki would want anyone to know about the technology they're using in their plants. At this plant Kawasaki makes atvs, jet skis, and umm trains. Kind of odd but you can check it out yourself! I went to their website which looks like it's straight out of 1999 and they show the products manufactured at that plant. These guys spent more on their OPEX system than their website! Please for all that is holy please Kawasaki give your marketing guys a little cash to update this site. Why did this plant need an OPEX? Easy, not enough workers in the workforce. Dropping in an asrs reduced the headcount required for growth. The big news in July of 2021 in Lincoln was a $200M expansion at this plant. It used to be that you would expect a lot of new jobs from an expansion of this size but not anymore. The lion's share of the cash is on automation and equipment..not people. I don't understand the point of announcing the costs of these expansions. If anything it should annoy us tax paying citizens as these expansions are usually subsidized by tax dollars. Next time your company announces an expansion spare us how much it's going to cost and instead tell us how many jobs it'll add and why the local community should care! https://www.kawasakilincoln.com/

Post 80: Inappropriate Linear Motions

Maybe I'm just simple minded with a propensity to think dirty thoughts. But I just can't help but giggle watching this marketing video from Iris Dynamics. I know that the British are a bit more forward than Americans when it comes to sexuality but boy, I didn't realize it overflowed into the automation space! Check out the video and let me know if it's just me or are there not so subtle undertones.... https://youtu.be/xZ7T1H1uPSc

Post 79: Tech of the Day: Apple of My Photoeye

Eye see you, you see me, we're a happy family..of photoeyes. So in day 1 of automation class you learn about PLCs. Day 2, you get schooled on photoeyes. These devices are so critically fundamental to automation that if you have a degree in robotics or automation and didn't learn about them I say ask your university for a refund cause you've been taken. Photoeyes are pretty much just a small device that emits an infrared signal and reads the signal that it gets back. So imagine you have a flashlight. You turn on the flashlight and it hits an object. Well if your flashlight was a photoeye it would see the light that reflects off of the object you pointed it at. The output of a basic photoeye is on or off. So for example if you step place an object in front of a photoeye it'll trigger, remove the object and it is then untriggered. It's that simple but not. There are 3 main types of photo eyes: Reflective - has an emitter and received in one device and like I described already it emits a beam and catches what comes back Retro-reflective - includes an emitter and receiver but you have to use a reflective target Through Beam - this one splits the photoeye into 2 devices, the receiver and emitter. This is what's used in common household garage door openers to monitor obstructions in the doorway. One device emits a beam and it is received by the receiver. For a photoeye to be of value it needs to be tied into the inputs of a PLC or IPC and some logic performed when the photoeye sees or doesn't see something. The most common application of a photoeye is to be the start of a process when an object triggers it. So the logic would go something like..if a box is placed into this spot (where the photoeye is pointed at) then a robot crushes it.

Post 78: Why Pose Your Robot?

Who do we call when we need to report suspected robot/automation abuse? Here we see a robot, being posed as if it was kicking a soccer ball. There are several other photos too of this robot being used as publicity fodder. Why pose a robot doing this? Makes no sense whatsoever. I'm curious if they photoshopped out the stabilizing system from this picture because in any videos you see of this robot, Artemis from UCLA, you'll see a human walking behind the robot with a stabilizer. Now as much as I want to rag on this robot I am really intrigued by what I see. It looks like a robot that is being built for speed and agility, vs BD's Atlas that seems clunky and kinda slow. So RoMeLa and Boston Dynamics...when are we going to have our first real battle bot fight or better yet Olympics?!!!! https://twitter.com/DennisHongRobot/status/1604610100508753921?s=20&t=M7caMzdgUvAvq7VB1OJLXQ

Post 77: Fast Food Automation

I love reading about fast food automation. There are so many polar opinions that, well, it's just fun to read about. The latest news on the topic comes out of good ol' Texas. The home of dry dirt and cowboys. Seems like the golden arches have decided Fort Worth Texas is a great town to test out an automated drive thru. I'd love to know why they picked Fort Worth. I have zero ideas on what would make the people in that area the best test demographic. But nonetheless McDonalds did what they did. In a nutshell they built a vertical reciprocating conveyor that can deliver your bags of food to a drive thru window. This is super basic, like lumberjacks wearing flannels. But of course you have some people that think this is ludicrous, that this "robot" is taking peoples' jobs, how dare you not have a person hand me my double cheeseburger!! What if I need ketchup? If you check out the original tweet there are so many funny comments. IE people are going to boycott McDonalds over this (yeah right, you're addicted to their food, good luck), to others complaining about needing to have a person to interact with (so do you talk to your mailman or Amazon driver every time they drop off a package?). Two things that chap me are #1 the idea that some people are calling this a fully automated McDonalds. It's not. People are still making the food and bagging it. #2 this delivery system is not a freakin robot. Stop calling everything a robot! https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-mcdonalds-in-texas-is-the-first-ever-with-a-fully-automated-drive-through-11671818887

Post 76: Palletizers For Dummies

Some vendors in the automation space want you to feel like they're the smartest guys in the room. I hate that crap. You can smell these guys when they walk in with their cheap cologne and oversized suits. So I was pleasantly surprised to come accross IRIS and this explainer video. They did a great job of creating a system that is simple to use. You don't need a PHD to implement their palletizer and better yet they're not trying to impress you with big words. It's refreshing to see a clean system with a simple to use interface as well as a nicely thought out man to machine interface (ie the light curtain monitored areas). You know that the smartest guy in the room is generally the quiet one listening for that moment to deliver that one single pointed question that creates an inflection point in the discussion.

Post 75: Tech of the Day: VRCs, Begrudgingly Moving Totes Up

You ever need to move totes from the ground level up to say the 2 or 3rd level in your building? Well don't waste your money on a long run of inclined powered conveyor! That's a total waste of space, and money. Instead seek out vertical reciprotaing conveyor. The name is pretty self explanatory but in case you have no idea what this means (and that's ok too, we still love you just the same) a VRC is basically a device (not a robot) that can interface with a human, conveyor, or other automation and carries totes up, or down. These devices are super simple, easy to maintain, and relatively inexpensive.

Post 74: No, Not Every Damn Thing Is A Robot

I'm stepping onto my soapbox again...this time over what it means to be a robot. What lead me to this is a press release about a company called Ferguson and their army of robots. The press release is about how great these "robots" are. Yeah those are not robots. If I call my dog a robot, does that mean it's a robot too? No, what you folks have are Autostore systems which are tote stacking and destacking devices. Not robots. A robot is a humanlike device which is controlled by a programmable device (computer/plc) and performs actions a human would otherwise be able to accomplish. A robotic arm is basically a mechanized version of a human arm. If we continue on our path of calling anything that is controlled by a computer that does something, whether autonomously or programmed, a robot we might as well start a new naming convention because well everything is a freaking robot nowadays. My computer...a robot, my garage door opener...a robot, my dishwasher....a robot. https://www.hvacwebconnection.com/news22/ferguson_automated_distribution_center.htm

Post 73: Gross, Moldy Dishes Are No Match For Nala

I've done my fair share of dirty dishes! I've been laboring away in a commercial kitchen since 12 years old. I'd ride my bike to a small wings and ice cream take out place after school. That's where I first learned how to use the glorious industrial dish washer. Dishes done in minutes! Now that I think about it what's up with that? My new home dishwasher still spends 45 minutes or more doing my dishes. Well I may have found myself a solution. A little outfit out of Illinois is cranking away at solving the needs of commercial kitchens everywhere. Their latest press release is for the Nala Robotics "Spotless" autonomous robotic dishwasher. Not sure that there's really a business case for this but sure does seem cool! Go to nalarobotics.com to see the video. Vimeo is kind of annoying that it won't embed the thumbnail. https://apnews.com/press-release/pr-newswire/science-business-c4c92b9d7a435bbe2ac41dc25995f1f4 https://nalarobotics.com/

Post 72: PLC+Robot Programming = Automation Art

Have you ever been in an MRI machine? Getting your brain and chest scanned to see what’s broken in you? I have, and quite recently in fact! Surprisingly I had no idea that just a few short weeks after my visit to the ER I would get a case study from the team at Artiminds that shows how interconnected our worlds are. These guys and gals worked on a sweet project at Siemens Healthineers where they took an existing cobot and PLC and made them better. This robotic workcell had the job of screwing in over 200 screws into the stretchers that people ride on when in an MRI machine. I had the pleasure of riding on one of these units and recall the incredible number of screws holding the various guides and parts together. So my personal problems aside how did the team at Artiminds make this system better? They say they “recast” the software which integrated the plc and robot…I say they gutted the system and gave it the brain of an artist! Artiminds built a robot programming suite(RPS) that now solves two issues Siemens had. They can quickly train robot programmers within days AND rapidly teach and deploy robotic arms into production processes. The team at Artiminds built this software platform in 8 months! The coolest part is that Siemens can add almost any manufacturer of robot and still use this common platform to integrate them into workcells! Oh and if you care to know, I was totally fine. https://www.artiminds.com/

Post 71: VERSABUILT ROBOTICS

You have a high mix cnc environment? Still have people waiting around for your machining processes to complete just so they can unload the current part and then load the next blank in? That’s pretty dumb. You can do better! Stop paying humans to do dumb things. We have brains and feelings and ..um well that’s about it. Pay people to solve problems, not robots. That’s why robots are around..to do robot stuff, like those jobs that your company requires to be done OVER and OVER and OVER again. So does what I’m saying resonate in you? Am I whispering deep into your soul the sweet words of wisdom you seek?! Awesome. Call Versabuilt. They know a thing or two about making complex problems (not your emotional problems) simplified. These bandits specialize in robotic tending systems for CNC equipment. Give them a shout and let them know ol’ Tommy sent you. They may give you a discount, or more likely jack up your price! https://youtu.be/3rClo_6vbcY https://www.versabuilt.com/

Post 70: Trouble At RōBEX?

When someone sticks out their hand and says, "Hi, I'm a professional change agent", what do you think of? If you ask me It means there is a major restructuring about to happen and some people will be getting fired. Well RōBEX's owner, private equity group Angeles Equity Partners has added a new member to it's board. But one with a very specific skill set. Restructuring, cost reduction, and company sales. The writing is on the wall for the executive heavy management team. Do you really need a president and CEO for a company that is as small as these guys? They were recently acquired by this new PE group and they're already buying up companies. This looks like they'll grow by acquisition and then be sold off to the highest bidder. My question is...has this company ever been profitable. I'm guessing nope, since they brought on board the guy that's going to help them trim the fat off this hog. Don't believe me? Check out the press release yourself. https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/business-78e30ec435354c2990fef76f5be3bfce

Post 69: Tech of the Day: SLAM, no not Some Lazy Ass Machine

Say you wanted to be able to have your mobile robot create a map while also being able to navigate itself in that map..Bammm you need SLAM! Simultaneous Localization And Mapping. SLAM algorithms allow robotic systems the ability to see the environment just like a human with not only detecting obstacles in a 2D view but also with a sense of depth creating 3D maps. SLAM is used by some of the simplest autonomous devices, like robotic vacuum cleaners and mowers. These devices can sense their environment, know the path they need to follow, locate themselves in the environment, and do their task. To do this most SLAM systems use several cameras and sensors to grab image data and then there is back end software that interprets these images and creates 3D maps based on them. Is SLAM perfect? Not really. The major flaw with SLAM is that since you are constantly mapping the environment you can end up with differences between the records of the same point. Imagine you have a column in your warehouse but every time it gets mapped the dimension changes by 2 inches. This happens with SLAM systems. This issue also causes problems when you create travel paths that should be closed loops. What happens is that the robot will go around the path but may not end up at the right end point, causing the system to think it's not done with it's task. SLAM got us close to autonomous navigation but it'll be great to see the next generation of SLAM like technologies!

Post 68: WTF Is This Nonsense?

Ok, so marketing bros and gals...please explain to me what in the world is the nonsense written in this press release below. The title and picture drew me in. Dang, a robotics company that's making some kind of power assisted roller skates?! Sweet! But then I read further. Umm so why is NASA mentioned? And the rest of the story goes downhill from there. Looks like bad AI generated copy or someone is getting paid to write stuff for Shift Robotics and they're getting paid by word quantity, not whether it makes any sense whatsoever. Even though this article was absolute trash it did open up my curiosity and I checked out the company. I want a pair of these for my next tradeshow!! https://shiftrobotics.io/ https://www.analyticsinsight.net/shift-robotics-plans-to-ship-first-batch-of-moonwalkers-in-2023/

Post 67: SeaProtector1 Reporting For Duty

Call me an environmentalist if you want but I actually do care about the planet. I recycle, most of the time. I try not to be wasteful with food and I certainly don't just toss my trash into rivers. My mind is blown by how so much plastic trash ends up in the oceans. Imagine if we kept polluting the ocean at the rate we are now...the ocean will end up like some gross looking ball pit full of sludge. Gross! Well here comes some reinforcements! SeaProtector1 is armed and ready to take on floating trash. It's such a simple concept but hey sometimes thats all that's needed to be effective. I love how it lifts up the trash it caught and a conveyor belt moves the trash to the end. So brilliantly simple! https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20221211005006/en/

Post 66: AI Is F'n Awesome

I hear AI and I start to get the tingles! I'm such a fanboy. From art to music to coding there seems to be a new AI tool being released daily. Probably not really daily but there's a lot going on in the field. The latest one I heard of is Character AI. Wow, simply WOW. This a an AI tool that allows you to chat with preprogrammed AI characters of your choosing. Want to carry on a conversation about quantum physics with Elon Musk..go for it. Albert Einstein can give you relationship advice. The possibilities are endless. I spent my day talking with Tony Stark about how I can build my newsletter audience! https://beta.character.ai/

Post 65: Tech of the Day: Totes, Yeah Totes!

What's the most basic of essentials in a warehouse or manufacturing facility? You might think it's the forklift, WRONG. Maybe you think it's an ERP system, boooo. So many wrong answers from all of you! Totes, totes are the essential glue holding the universe together! The basics: You put stuff into totes and then you can carry the totes. Pretty simple huh? Yeah I guess if you want to waste your company dollars on trash. When you purchase totes there are 4 key things to note. Application - What are you doing with the totes? Are they going into a clean room or are they going to hold oily parts? Do they need to be conveyable or will they be picked up by a human? The application is important because it will help determine the material the tote is made of as well as other factors including dimensions. Payload capacity - All totes are not created equal. It's really important that you pay attention to this often overlooked detail. I've seen so many totes in facilities and many of them are not being use appropriately. Someone in purchasing thought you could get buy with a cheaper tote, but they don't have to try to carry that flimsy thing around with parts falling out of it. Make sure to get a real world number of how much weight you want to put in a tote. Anything over 40lbs is a bit of an ergonomic issue so keep that in mind. You don't need old Billy Joe filing a workman's comp claim cause you overloaded his totes causing an injury. Dimensions - Have you found a machine that shrinks or enlarges totes? If you have let me know, otherwise make sure to order the right size totes. Do you need to move totes along a conveyor? Then make sure they fit on there. Do you need people to move them? Make sure they're not too big to carry. Want to limit the chance the weight of a tote won't be exceeded? Then make sure you can't physically put more into a tote than the capacity. It's not rocket science but dimensions matter. Material - There are all kinds of totes. Cheap injection molded plastic ones, fiberglass reinforced, steel, corrugated plastic, and I could keep going on and on. If you put oily greasy parts in a corrugated plastic tote...the tote won't last long. Put aluminum parts in a steel tote and you're asking for galvanic corrosion. Material matters and mainly for the longevity of your totes. Totes are not cheap and making sure you order the right ones for the job at hand will ensure that your totes last and do the job you need them to do. If you need totes...just do a quick internet search and you'll find several companies ready to take your money. Before handing them your cash make sure to talk to someone and get feedback on your application. If they don't have someone that knows a thing or two about totes then buy elsewhere!

Post 64: Electric Tractors Are Shocking

John Deere wants to pretend they're the coolest kids on the block with their fancy self driving tractors. But the really cool kids don't have to say they're the coolest. Let me announce the cool kid, CASE IH is awesome! Self driving..yep, they also can do some assisted driving so that the combine and a trailer can sync up for unloading on the go, and the really cool thing? How about an electric tractor?!?!?!?! Yeah maybe finally we'll get all those farm kids to stop "rolling coal" with their big diesel trucks and they can start adopting electric trucks as their go to. If CASE has come up with an electric tractor then what in the world is taking so long for the electric tractor trailers (aka big rigs aka semis). the power consumption of a tractor must be massive! I can't wait for someone to transplant one of these power systems into a MONSTER TRUCK! What a redneck environmentalist's mash up! https://media.cnhindustrial.com/NORTH-AMERICA/Gallery/video/the-autonomous-solution-is-the-first-proof-point-in-the-joint-collaboration-between-case-ih-and-rave/a/019b8578-199e-476e-96b8-0a41cef98fae?categorySeoName=CASE-IH

Post 63: Genius Or Gimmick

Have you heard of Inuitive? How about a M4.5S? Don't ring a bell? That makes at least two of us. Inuitive, which seems to be a take on the word intuitive or maybe it was just a misspelling, is a company that sells ROCs. Not those kind of rocks. Robot On Chip. These guys claim to have created the holy grail of AGV and AMR sensor modules that can provide human like sensing capabilities to your mobile robotic platform. Why do I question the legitimacy of this tech, of this company? Check out their video. A fake "breaking news" kinda video that's really cheesy. Like ooozing with warm week old ricotta or if you're the dairy free sort maybe it's like that kind of cheese that doesn't melt. https://youtu.be/Spxpj_8214M

Post 62: My Robot Girlfriend Is A Stripper

Oh wow! So no, I did not search the keywords robot and stripper and sex. Absolutely not. Or did I? I'll let you believe what you'd like but either way all I can say is wow. I found myself following the rabbit down a really strange path and it started with this TikTok video of a Japanese pole dancing robot. So strange! I get us humans are pretty primal but is this how we're going to solve our depending on the sex business? Putting in some robots? After finding this first video I thought, hmm, I wonder if there's more of these types of robots. And yes, yes there is. All kinds. Now that I've stoked your curiosity...You're Welcome and good luck unseeing what you'll find.

Post 61: Come and Get Your Dinner

Have you every asked someone to pay for something and they just say no. You know how that feels, that uncomfortable moment, those tears welling up, repressed childhood memories coming to the surface. But then you just say OK and give them their stuff. Well that's kind of how it went with the guys at Cartken. Cartken is shaping up to be a direct competitor to Starship Technologies. They make these tiny little wheeled robots that deliver your coffee, lunch, and probably anything else you want delivered while you're on a college campus. I bet if these start delivering alcohol and cannabis a lot of them will go missing so maybe don't get into that business. I'm a sucker for an underdog story so let's see how this plays out!

Post 60: Tech of the Day: CNC Programming

Yep, I know how to write CNC code. Super easy if you know what you're doing. In college we actually started with NC code and then moved up to CNC. What the heck do these acronyms stand for you ask. NC = Numerical Control, CNC = Computer Numerical Control. This is the code fed into a mill, lathe, or other machining center/equipment that tells it what to do. The main difference is that NC is the old fashioned way of programming one of these machines. Kind of like using a scantron. CNC is how most machines are programmed nowadays and basically it's just a flat file like a text file that has lines of instructions. G-Code is the language that's used to write CNC code. It's super simple with the complexities being in the details. So you have some like G01 X32 Y15 Z-1.000 F400. The G is the command type, then you have your coordinates to travel to, and F would be the Feed..how fast the machine moves to get there. I've had to write this code and go run it on a machine. It's tedious and you have to understand speeds and feeds and how they relate to the cutting tool you're using, etc. But alas! Technology saves the day. There is CAM (computer aided manufacturing) software that can now take your 3D CAD model and it can create the code for you. Be careful though..you will still want to verify the code just in case there's an error!

Post 59: The Beast Mows

In a previous newsletter I talked about autonomous mowers. Those we're not mowers. They were pretending to be mowers. This thing..from Renu Robotics. Holy crap! It's A Mower! The thing looks like a bush hog (for anyone that didn't grow up on a farm that's the name of the big mower deck that gets pulled behind a tractor) on steroids. If I had one I'd probably bolt a lawn chair to it and ride around on it. It just looks fun and I think every red blooded American that drinks PBR needs one. And when your buddies come over tell them to hold your beer while you fire this bad boy up. These guys seem to be targeting solar farms but screw it, I bet if you have enough cash they'll sell it to anyone that'll buy. Also, if you need to ask how much is it..then you can't afford one. This would not be a logical purchase, but instead an emotional one like buying a $3M Pagani hypercar.

Post 58: $10M Fun Money

Another day another funding announcement in the warehouse automation space. Last week Locus announced a Series Y, X, or whatever round their up to now. But this is a bit of old news that slipped under the radar but is a game changer! Gather AI...gather what? They seem to have figured out some magic or they've built vaporware. They take drones, add vision, and software and voila they have a barcode reading, inventory tracing, volume estimating beauty of a system. I've been in at least a thousand warehouses and facilities where this system was needed. Does your Billy Bob say he can't find the boxes the WMS states is there, you mean the one that were put in the wrong spot or stolen? Hold on, I need to digress a little and jump up onto my soapbox. INVENTORY DOES NOT MAGICALLY DISAPPEAR! I absolutely HATE it when people accept that inventory that comes into their facility, which costs money, just can't be found. It's freaking ridiculous that anyone would accept this. If your facility is ok with inventory going missing someone needs to be fired. Every nut and bolt (that's a bit of a stretch) should be accounted for. Did you know that in aircraft engine assembly operations nuts and bolts can not go missing. You know what happens with missing fasteners during an engine build? They end up destroying an engine at 40,000 feet. Babies are crying, men are soiling themselves, women are hogging the oxygen masks..so DON'T accept missing inventory. OK, I feel better now so let's get back to Gather AI. What I find fascinating is how they can read so many barcode types, most which are likely placed on boxes askew, and in different locations. I'd like to see this tech mounted onto forklifts, carts, and anything else that moves around the warehouse. I don't see why this has to be tied specifically to drones!

Post 57: Meet The Real Ironman, It's Not Elon!

Elon Musk has been kinda sorta labeled as the Ironman, yes he built up Tesla and SpaceX. Both facilities I got to visit. I worked with those engineers and the stories are true. His people work their ass off. But he's not the real Ironman. Palmer Luckey is! Who the hell is this guy? Oh just the guy that created Oculus and then sold it to Facebook. You know the guy that made VR affordable. After selling Oculus he needed to do something with all his cash and time. Most people would take it easy for a bit, sip drinks on a beach, go date some models. Not this guy. He decides upend the beast that is the US military machine. How? Well normally the US government pays a select group of contractors to develop technology for the US military and it's allies. What this means is that a lot of our tax dollars are being wasted on ideas that don't work, pipe dreams of Congress. So what does a young guy with really deep pockets do? He decides to build the tech of the future and sells it to the government after it works. He can do it faster and better because his team maintains the creative control and they don't need the federal funding to make it happen. As taxpayers this means our dollar is much more effective at keeping our nation secure than in the past. The core of what they do is bring autonomous tech to the battlefield. Freakin Awesome!

Post 56: Tech of the Day: Databases

I first learned about databases in college. We learned how to create a Microsoft SQL database with some tables and then got really fancy by connecting it to an MS Access frontend. If you don't know what a database is all I've said in the past couple of sentences seems like nonsense but I'll break it down for you. See this picture? That's what a database looks like. Another way to visualize a database is like this. You go buy a filing cabinet. That's your database. Then you go and put file folders in there. Those are your database tables. And within those file folders you put sheets of paper. In a database those would be records in your table. So now with your newly created database (filing cabinet) you can organize all kinds of records (papers of information) within those tables (file folders). The beauty of the database is that it can be structured AND you can run some pretty awesome searches(queries). So sticking to the filing cabinet example, say you walked up to the filing cabinet and said. Show me all the records in the blue folder that have the name Billy Bob. Then the filing cabinet gives you a nice neat pile of records to look through. This is really all a database is, a structured place to store data so it can become useful information presented through the results of a query. Databases don't have to be hard but sometimes IT aliens people like to make them complex. For the average person they don't need to be. Now before I get all kinds of hate mail from you IT guys, more specifically you dbas (aka database admins aka damn boring ass smartasses), yes there are complexities to databases. They have to be set up right, there are little details to think about with how the data is indexed, etc. But we normal people don't need to worry about that because we have you dbas to make sure we don't screw these datasets up!

Post 55: Robot Magic

I love robot magic, especially impossible robot magic! This video caught my attention the other day and I thought dammmmnnnnn I know some people that might want to check this out. Fredrik Rydén from Olis Robotics took a cheapass webcam, mounted it to a cobot, did what has to be some pretty tough math and abracadabra we have robot magic. It's quite the bit. I just couldn't help myself. In this case Fredrik had his bot take some cables out of a container but really the applications for this are pretty endless. I don't see millions of dollars of R&D spend in this video but instead some dude that took what others claim to be incredibly difficult and simplified it. The automation industry needs more Fredriks. Smart guys finding ways to solve complex problems without having to write dissertations to make themselves seem smarter than everyone else. Cheers to you Fredrik, you sir are an Automation Junkie!

Post 54: Rocket Cutting Robots

Back in the day if the government had unspent warheads we'd bury them and let mother Earth reabsorb those toxins over the next few million years. Things have changed and we actually care about what's in the water we drink! So what do you do if you have thousands, TENS of THOUSANDS of military warheads full of VX and sarin nerve agents? Well first you try not to scare off the people living in the area, but then you hire some of them to quite literally pick up these rockets and move them around, inspecting, draining, disassembling them. That's not a job for the faint of heart. Oh and you have to do this while wearing the highest level contamination suit which takes you about 30 minutes to put on. I feel sorry for those guys and gals! But alas there's a hero here! The team at CRG Automation is called in to figure out how to remove as much risk to human life as possible from the disposal of these rockets. The president of CRG is a military veteran so he's no stranger to danger. The team created a custom solution that removes the toxic chemicals from the rockets, takes the rocket and places it into a container with a lid and crimps it shut, then loads it onto a pallet with other containers. Then that container is basically incinerated at over 1K degrees in what's called a Static Detonation Chamber. For some reason I want to call it an STD chamber but SDC is ok too. CRG did such a great job reducing the time it took to process each warhead and the risk of contamination that not only did they get the first project but they also earned opportunities to solve several other problems related to the processing of these warheads. Read more here: https://crgautomation.com/news/how-a-team-united-in-just-18-months-to-overhaul-how-america-destroys-its-most-dangerous-chemical-weapons

Post 53: Rice Sorting Race

Going down the automation rabbit hole takes me on some incredible journeys. I see rabbits, of course, tree roots, and today I stumbled upon one of my favorite, most satisfying tech to see in action..Optical Sorters. I've seen one of these in person and it's just freaking fantastic. What I find interesting is how fast these machines not only detect, but also react to say a flawed grain of rice, tomato, etc. In just a split of a split second these machines will puff a little air and kick a defective product into a reject chute or in the case of tomatoes an arm swings down and knocks it away. This tech is one of the wonders of the automation world!

Post 52: Tech of the Day: Stack Light

This may show my age but screw it, I gotta get to the basics of automation! So if you don't know what this thing is in the picture and you studied automation or robotics..call up your college and ask for a refund. You got taken. Pictured here is a stack light. Why the hell is it called a "stack" light you ask. Simple. Basically these are made by "stacking" lights on top of each other. You can order them with just 1 light or many. You can also add audible alarms too. In the wonderful world of automation these handy dandy little lights are used to show the status of a machine, assembly line, or basically anything. You could put one of these at your desk, wire up a button, and whenever you are annoyed with your boss press the button to set off a flashing red beacon and audible alarm. Go ahead give that one a try! I kid but really you can do a lot with these but all they really are for is to visually indicate status. How about wiring you ask? There are so many configurations but it's common to order a 3 stack setup and wire into a PLC output module. Then just include in your logic some triggers that latch the lights on when you want them to turn on. Want to buy one? Just do an online search for stack light...you'll see pricing in the $20 to $1,000 range. The ones I've bought in the past are about $300.

Post 51: LiDAR: The Money Pit

There are too many LiDAR companies. Almost all of the players in the space are losing money, even the top players! You want to see your investment dollars vanish then go ahead and send them your money. They need it to survive. These are companies that are bringing in sales of $5M-$40M per year but their books are ending up in the red by HUNDREDS of millions! Freaking crazy! So what gives? LiDAR is pretty cool tech with applications throughout robotics and automation. Well, there are too many of them, bloated with VC dollars, working on the same mission. There needs to be a consolidation and cutting of the fat at these companies. AND more importantly they need to get the job done. Stop doinking around playing table tennis or taking breaks to play video games. Go build a system people can use and build it to scale. Don't believe me? Check out Luminar Technologies and AEye. You'll see what I'm talking about.

Post 50: Armed Robocop

San Francisco, the home of the Golden Gate Bridge, rampant homelessness, and now robots that can use deadly force. For such a liberal city in a liberal state it's pretty incredible to hear that the city has approved the ability for their police department to utilize a robot to deploy deadly force. Now they're not looking to put a machine gun on a robot, yet. But they do foresee the need to put a detonable device on a robot and have it approach a bad guy and well...boom goes the dynamite. Most of you probably don't know this but this exact scenario played out in Dallas back in 2016. A man suspected of killing 5 Dallas police officers gets into a wild west style gunfight with more officers and instead of risking any more officers, they drove their bomb robot to the suspect and set off a grenade. Whichever side of this issue you fall on one thing is inevitable. Robots will be weaponized. The scary part of this is the reality that if the good guys have these robots, the bad guys will also have them. So be ready to order your own personal sentry gun like the ones we used to have in Team Fortress! https://apnews.com/article/police-san-francisco-government-and-politics-d26121d7f7afb070102932e6a0754aa5

Post 49: Snow Blowing Bot

For many of you people out there winter is coming...winter IS coming. Are you ready? Do you have your snowboots, gloves, coats, hats? How about your snow shovel or snow blower? Rest easy cause now there's Snowbot. Check out the video of this little guy chugging away at removing snow. Automation is making our lives easier and this is just another way for us to get lazier and become more comfortable on those cold snowy winter days. If you want to check out this company and what they're up to: https://www.thesnowbot.com/

Post 48: Tech of the Day: What's an Integrator?

If you're in the automation space you've probably heard of someone or a company being called an INTEGRATOR. What kind of a beast of a human is this? Is it like the terminator but better? Not really. An integrator is a person or a company that takes multiple technologies, generally from different vendors, and unifies them into a solution that solves a client's problem. Why do integrators exist you ask? Let's say you want to put a conveying system into your facility that routes totes to various locations. Ok, so you need to call a conveyor company, you'll need a warehouse control software, you need some barcode scanners, next find someone that will create an interface between your company's software and the warehouse control software. And how about the physical installation of all this? This is a lot of work. An integrator solves most if not all of this. An integrator acts as the lead on all of these topics delivering to you the complete package ready to go. Lots of companies don't have huge engineering staff or any at all so an integrator provides the on demand technical know how needed to execute automation projects. What's in it for the integrator? Two things. Money and experience. Integrators usually add 10-30% to the cost of a project. More importantly integrators leverage the experience from their projects to expand their knowledge base, building upon their capabilities which then affords them opportunities with other clients.

Post 47: Robots Make Us Sad At Work

A recent report came out saying that us humans are insecure about our jobs being taken by robots. Makes total sense! The development of robots and automation is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Robots are coming out every day doing jobs that humans can do. Flipping burgers, tending manufacturing equipment, parking lot security. Robots ARE coming after the "basic" jobs. Companies and some people are denying this but it's the truth. We have a labor shortage and the easiest way to make a dent in it is to automate the simplest jobs. Frankly, I'm surprised we still hand our money over to a person at McDonalds and a person is handing us our food. The study the report was based on concluded that there is a correlation between job insecurity and robot population density and that this issue is prevalent throughout our modern day society. So what's the fix for this issue? The researchers stated that self affirmation was the cure to this insecurity... Science Daily also reported on this https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221011105730.htm

Post 46: Robot Maid

I get bored sometimes. And to fill that boredom with something positive I scroll through the bowels of the internet looking for something interesting. Today I found something really awesome that I'm pretty excited about. I'm surprised that it hasn't made a bigger splash too. Samsung is working on robots to help around the house. There are a few videos from CES showing their two bots Bot i and Bot Handy. Both are freaking awesome and I really hope Samsung is serious about bringing these or at least something close to these to market. Bot i is basically a mobile personal assistant. It follows you around reminding you of all the things you need to do and it also nags at you a little bit too. Who doesn't want to develop a codependent relationship with a narcissistic bot? I can't wait! Then there's Bot Handy, your sidekick that does dishes, picks up dirty laundry, and really keeps your house in order. If somethings out of place it uses AI to detect it and deal with it. We are getting closer to the Jetson's reality I saw in cartoons! Samsung Research is an advanced research & development hub of Samsung's Set Business. research.samsung.com

Post 45: My Golfing Robot is Better Than Yours

I don't play golf, well I take that back. I play footgolf and putt putt. And I'm awesome at both. But I need some help on my "traditional" golf game. Que the hero music! Here comes GOLFI, the best damn putting robot ever. About 4 days ago the web was quietly flooded with articles and releases about this robot that can putt and is pretty good at it. If you invite me to play golf, you better believe I'm bringing this guy and a six pack. Hell I'll just drive the golf cart and tow this sucker behind me. A team of German brainiacs came up with Golfi. They claim the experiment isn't just applicable to golfing and that there are other use cases. I'm curious..how about they use this same logic to help guys at bars figure out the best pickup lines? Now that's a billion dollar idea. Johnny 5 move over, Golfi is here.

Post 44: Tech of the Day: MDR Conveyor

Motor Driven Live Roller Conveyor I see you, MDR conveyor, you work horse of the warehouse, you mover of boxes and totes! There are 2 basic types of conveyor. MDR and everything else. MDR conveyor is the standard for powered conveyor throughout the world. Basically this conveyor is awesome because you can power different sections (zones) at different times and do awesome things with it. The basic way this works is that you have these powered rollers that are attached to a group of rollers. When the powered roller is kicked on it turns itself which also turns the other rollers in that zone connected via the bands. By having several of these zones in series you create what's called accumulating conveyor. What's so great about this? Let me tell you! Instead of having boxes getting jammed up you can now have boxes or totes line up 1 at a time, neatly spaced. Then when the 1st box moves on the rest of the boxes index to the next position. This means you can build complex conveying systems with transfer and diverts. Want to read more? Check out the conveyor guys. They have a good little write up on it! www.conveyorguys.com

Post 43: Ally Robotics are the basic robot

Robots that weld, robots that assemble stuff, robots that work in clean rooms, blah blah blah. How about a robot to pick up a bag of groceries? How about a robot to make the perfect french fries? Sometimes robot nerds get off on grand robotic tasks but you know what will make robots main stream? Have them do the basic stuff no one wants to do! Remember one of my prior newsletters where I talked about Miso? The robot guys focused on the restaurant biz? Well Ally and Miso are best buddies right now cause Ally will be the backbone of what Miso delivers. So what makes Ally neat? Like really super nerd neat? Well imagine a beautiful world where robots can be trained to do stuff without needing a programmer of any sort...that's the world Ally is creating and it's freaking awesome. I see their robotic arms being used everywhere. Manufacturing, warehousing, retail, food, you name it there's probably a use case for their tech. F'n cool stuff they're doing!

Post 42: Bionauts ATTACK!

Crazy freaking stuff right here! I came across a news article about a company, Bionaut,that is getting close to deploying robots to treat brain, spinal cord, and other parts of our bodies with a weird tiny little robot. They're focused right now on treating tumors and cysts in the brain with very localized treatments but the applications could reach farther into our guts. This little bot is driven by magnetism to it's destination, it can then release a payload or INJECT a target! They've been practicing on pigs and sheep but human trials are coming. So obviously there is a lot of good that could be done here but who's to say someone with bad intentions doesn't develop their own version? This is the stuff that Bond movies are made of! Here's a video of it in action and they have several more on their website too. https://bionautlabs.com/videos

Post 41: A Press Release over 6 Robots?

You know what's not news? A project consisting of 6 mobile robots. Really? Who's idea was it to spend the time writing up the press release? Oh and if you read further you'll see the client purchased another 5 robots for. future use. So let me get this straight..an order worth maybe, just maybe $1.5M of robots (and that's a really high estimate for 11 MiR amrs) is news? Nah, I don't buy it. Add some zeros behind those numbers. There are lots of guys in the AGV and AMR space selling $3M+ dollar projects all day long, with some sites getting into the hundreds of units. https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/technology-business-tennessee-athens-541e0313e7214e8986add75e1f5bac1f

Post 40: Tech of the Day: AI

Artificial intelligence is here to stay and you better be ready to hop on the train or get plowed. Need a creative picture? AI can do it. Need a cool song? AI can do that too. Videos? Coming really damn soon. Ok, what's AI? Artificial intelligence. The quick skinny on this tech is this. First, a program is trained by uploading all kinds of content, data, etc to create something resembling a bank of memories. Then someone can ask for a task to be completed and AI will dig into it's memories and piece together what the requestor is seeking. Freaking crazy shit here. This tech is getting really good, like super awesome kind of good. You know all those pics at the top of this newsletter? Yeah all made with AI. My favorite is still the pic with my request of a robot building a robot. Robot building a robot But there's a major controversy brewing here. AI has to be trained. And it gets trained by being shown human works, yeah like copyrighted, trademarked, intellectual property. Does this make the output of AI legal? Depends on who you ask. Want your mind blown? Look up the Joe Rogan and Steve Jobs podcast interview. This was done through AI and it's creepily realistic!!

Post 39: Noname Collab Robot for Everyone

Who wants a robot? I do, I do! There's a Chinese outfit that just released a couple of new lines of collaborative robots. It's not a joke but a company called Dobot is targeting retail users of these bots. The Nova line of bots are designed for coffee shops, noodle restaurants, even physical therapists. This outfit claims that the bots are smaller and more capable than the current units on the market. Not sure on the price but if restaurants are buying them they'll need to be cheap to really go mainstream. I'm not sold that the foodservice and hospitality business is ready for these robots. It's still hard to get manufacturing and warehousing operations on board with technology and they have solid business cases for automation! https://apnews.com/press-release/pr-newswire/technology-business-30821f26ef022efb574e36a91c76ba05

Post 38: CATs get Zapped

So this is some interesting stuff. CAT, aka CATerpillar, aka the big gold colored bulldozers and heavy equipment, will soon be able to dock and automatically charge. Kind of like your little robot vacuum cleaner. This is crazy stuff! Imagine mining equipment, bulldozers, excavators that are being developed to charge themselves. Seems like mine operators will need fewer people to operate and increase output because they'll have less downtime.

Post 37: Autonomous Dog Craps on Boston Dynamics

Bad dog! Bad Dog! While BD has been busy filing lawsuits its competitors have been busy doing actually useful work. You know what's better than a dancing remote controlled dog? How about one that can go from point A to point B autonomously without an internal map? A team of robot braniacs including Ananye Agarwal, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon, have figured out how to out fight the other dogs in the pack. These dogs can climb stairs, jump gaps, and otherwise maneuver obstacles just based on camera inputs. It's freaking incredible. This is the tech that's really needed for robotic tech to really advance and be truly useful to mankind.

Post 36: Tech of the Day: PLCs

Say it with me..Programmable Logic Controller Programmable Logic Controller What the heck is a plc. Simple. It's an industrial computer in it's simplest form. It's the brain of most automation systems. You can get online and order a plc ready for you to use. Just know that it's not as simple as ordering a plc and then you're ready to go. Getting into plcs is like getting into home built desktop computers. You need to piece everything you need together. Buy a chassis, PLC, power supply, input and output modules, and other modules (like communication modules).....and also know how to program ladder logic and the basic process of how a PLC thinks. When you run a plc program you're executing ladder logic. Ladder logic is like coding as if you're playing Donkey Kong. Program starts at the top and goes down the page in rungs. But before the plc gets to the code it actually scans all the inputs connected to it. Then it executes the program, makes changes to the outputs as required, then it does housekeeping (basically all the overhead stuff that needs to be done like communications, resets, etc) Want to get into robotics or automation? Read up on plcs. It'll be well worth the time to develop an understanding of what underpins just about all the fun toys we have in our space. If you want to learn more check out information from Rockwell Automation. I would consider them the undisputed kings of the plc.

Post 35: Crazy Swimming Robots

So the folks that invented these robots are either brilliant or just odd. A couple of mad scientist made tiny, itty bitty, robots that swim. But not just swim. They can work together in a swarm. These guys were able to create a vortex with 4,000 of these little bots and get some plastic (trash) trapped in the vortex. Mind blown! Why the heck have we not started using a bigger version of these bots to clean the seas? Seriously we have a trash problem in the ocean. With a large army of these bots they could autonomously attack plastic in the ocean, trap it, and move it to a collection station. It's time we figure out how to help Captain Planet save the Earth. https://techxplore.com/news/2022-11-multiple-robots-vortex-microplastics.html

Post 34: Stop Charging the Old Fashioned Way

Are you still plugging in male plugs into female receptacles? How disgusting! That's so old fashioned. Instead why don't you hook up a Nimbus Engineering Power Relay and bam send electricity over an led beam! Imagine you have mobile robots or other automation that's battery powered but now they can take a charge without going to an inductive charging or a traditional dock. PLUSSSSSS these units can actually power the units directly so you could have almost continuous charging while units are in motion. They've already count the Department of Defense as a customer plus have actually sold units already. This could all be fluff or totally a game changer when it comes to power delivery. Check them out and let me know what you think! https://nimbus.energy/

Post 33: Leveling Up VR

What's the worst thing about VR? Aside from feeling nauseous after 10 mins? Having to stay within a confined area so you don't bash your face into a wall. Well some awesome guys are working to solve this problem! So put on your vr headset and imagine a virtual world where you can actually walk around for hours? Imagine exploring a virtual landscape by actually walking. Right now the system looks like a bit of a death trap but hey which limb severing prototype doesn't? I think this is a brilliant idea and frankly why hasn't Meta built something already? Seems like the real next progression for the metaverse. One where you can actually interact in all dimensions. If these guys building the walking system really want to level up they should work on an exoskeleton that interacts with VR so you can do things like jump, sit, lean, and of course walk and run. What if we could have virtual races too?? https://hackaday.com/2022/11/18/diy-robotic-platform-aims-to-solve-walking-in-vr/

Post 32: Tech of the Day: Robotic Surgeries

The robots are coming for your blood! I can't help watch these robotic surgery videos. Kind of like the pimple popper videos they quench my thirst for gruesome but also feed my tech addiction. I remember first hearing about this tech when I applied for a job at daVinci Systems. Basically you have a trained surgeon that sits at a console watching a video feed from the robotic head and manipulating surgical tools. But you have to watch the video and check it out to really appreciate it. The robotic setup is crazy looking! Like some kind of huge sci-fi mechanical spider eating away are a human body. There are tons of benefits to this tech. The patient suffers less because the procedures require smaller incisions to get into the body/affected area, equaling less pain medication. Since surgeons are seated and being robotically assisted there is less fatigue. Plus the video feeds can be transmitted to multiple monitors and that allows remote doctors to participate in a procedure. What's next for this tech? Imagine a surgeon getting into your body and having a heads up display identifying your various body parts, monitoring for the tiniest of blood loss, and feeding them an unprecedented amount of information. With ML and AI coming into the mix surgeries will become lower risk with higher success rates.

Post 31: You get a laser blaster, you get a laser blaster and YOU get a laser blaster

At first I envisioned something like playing laser tag and paintball in one. You know, get hit by a laser and it just leaves a little burn mark that reminds you of how tough you are. I wasn't even close. The laser blaster is basically a sandblaster given nuclear power. So think of a handheld sand blasting machine but instead of sand you use a laser to clean parts. I've seen tons of videos of this type of tech but nothing that would be for industrial use and high volume. Looks like Emerson Automation is the first big company to buy this tech from Laser Photonics. So does this mean we're getting close to a household use laser? How about a laser to cut your steak instead of a steak knife? https://www.laserphotonics.com/cleantech-laser-blaster-cabinet

Post 30: What's better than being the 148th company on a list?

148th isn't bad but to best that....be 147th like the team at Cobalt Robotics. They made 147th on the Deloitte Technologies Fast 500 list. This ranking is based on a 979% fiscal year revenue growth from 2018-2021. Those are great results for a company so congrats to Cobalt Robotics. But...the inner business analyst in me is wondering what kind of messed up metric is that?! So there are 2 things that caught my eye about this press release. First off..Cobalt Robotics. They seem to be doing something pretty good but basic. Looks like they have a security robot that can roam and also be manually controlled/interfaced with by a human. You know how when you go into a facility you have to sign in on the little touchscreen? They put that on a stick and wheels and called it a robot. This reminds me of Knightscope but not as tough. Knightscope is like robocop and Cobalt Robotics is like a mall cop. Kudos to Cobalt for the progress but they need to do a mash up with Ascento Robotics and now you would have a stair climbing security robot that you could mount a taser onto. The second thing that really bugs me about the press release is this Deloitte Fast 500 list. Here's the skinny on it. First you have to apply to it, be in biz for at least 4 years, min revenue of $50K(2018), current revenue of $5M (2021). And the formula for the growth is ((2021revenue - 2018revenue)/2018revenue)X100. So lets play with this. Let's say you have 2018 revenues of $50K, what does that mean for 2021 revenues at the 979% growth rate? About $560K, but then you don't make the list. Now here's the hack if you really wanted to top the chart of this list. First sandbag your revenue for the next year aside from $50K. Then hit $10M in revenue within the next 2 years. That would give you basically 200,000% growth based on this formula. If making the top of this list is super exciting to you and you're going to plan your business around this then stop. Don't make a business. No one really cares if you make this list. It's simply a pay for recognition list. https://apnews.com/press-release/globe-newswire/technology-robotics-north-america-2b2723eab2cd8dfc948b4c03b9552de1

Post 29: Big Joe wants to play with the big boys too

So I read a tiny, itty bitty, miniscule press release about Big Joe, the forklift company wanting to get into the automation business. From the looks of it they created a pretty half baked plan. They have an operations guy running the program and heck they don't even have the "new" machine on their website yet. What I found interesting is a comment they made on the affordability of their units. That's important but more so it needs to work and be reliable. If they can't get those 2 things right they'll soon realize no one will buy their cheap machine.

Post 28: Tech of the Day: IDGAF, oops I mean AGF

Automated Guided Forklifts Tired of Bobby Joe beating up your forklifts? Ever caught someone drunk on a forklift? Well, automated guided forklifts solve these problems and a few others. In simplest terms...its a forklift that drives itself. You program it and it runs a predetermined route. There are 2 main schools of thoughts on navigation. One is using a laser based system and another leveraging camera based tech. Both are pretty good but each have weaknesses. Vision based systems suck at positioning accuracy and laser based suck at navigating around obstacles. So depending on your application one may be a better fit than the other. Key players in the space are Seegrid, Vecna, Junghienrich, JBT, Dematic.

Post 27: Cluck cluck it's not a duck

Soft Robotics...you finally got your break. I interviewed with these guys a while back before their ceo had departed and seemed like a good company trying to figure out how in the world to commercialize their tech. But they didn't have much cash to pay so we didn't get far. But now they have sold more of their souls for $26M in a series C. They have caught the eye of the pretty ladies at the dance...Tyson Foods, Johnsonville ( the braut guys), and Marel (think food processing equipment). Based on this latest round of investments and who bought in it's no secret that they're headed down the protein route. Hopefully this cuts down on the number of immigrants losing fingers at meat processing facilities!! Read more about it here: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/soft-robotics-inc-secures-26m-in-first-close-of-series-c-led-by-tyson-ventures-marel-and-johnsonville-also-invest-and-join-soft-robotics-powerful-syndicate-301681099.html

Post 26: And the dog fight continues!!

The other day I mentioned Boston Dynamics and their lawsuit against Ghost Robotics. BD is claiming that Ghost's 4 legged friend's walk looks too much like their own yellow dog's walk and are claiming patent infringement. A pretty dumb claim. Ghost Robotics laid the smack down today with this: "Rather than compete on a level playing field, the company chose to file an obstructive and baseless lawsuit on November 11th in an attempt to halt the newcomer's progress. Boston Dynamics is drawing on their considerably larger resources to litigate instead of innovate." I love the response. Boston Dynamics needs to focus on creating a profitable business so it doesn't get sold off again when Hyundai decides their tired of supporting the team that's focused on dancing robots.

Post 25: Another day another hype event

Venture Capitalists are looking for their next big bet since SaaS is loosing it's luster. So the latest misguided bets are AMP Robotics and Bright Machines. AMP, the recycle automation guys, raised a $91M series C and Bright Machines, with a $132M injection. Folks..these companies are not profitable. They're not talking about expansion plans or creating new tech. No they need this money to survive. They're burning cash and need more runway to get them to their next round. This money provides a false sense of achievement. Look on LinkedIn and you'll see high fives all around from those at these companies. This is insane. There are tons of GREAT automation and robotics companies that are profitable or at the very least break even that if they received $90M or $130M in capital coulld do some incredible things! Instead capital flows to hype. Hey VC's why don't you bring in some common sense to these big bets and hire operators in the space that can turn a profit.

Post 24: Tech of the Day: VLMs

The big boxes you put all the stuff you want to hide in If you're using shelving to store products, tools, and other stuff you should check out vertical lift modules. Basically its a tower with storage locations in the back, storage locations in the front, and a central section where the elevator runs. You can use the built-in keypad and select a tray number and it ill bring it down to you or use software and store and retrieve your items by part number. These big boxes cost around $130K for a machine with an 8ft wide by 3 ft deep tray. You can negotiate them down though cause margins on these boxes run about 25%. Players in the space are Modula, Hanel, Whiter Systems, Kardex, and a few others.

Post 23: Bring on the robo mowers

I find few things in life as rewarding as coming home to a freshly mown yard. But I absolutely hate mowing. I know some of you probably enjoy the hours spent doing a mindless task but quite frankly I'd rather be coding or doing something else, really almost anything else besides mowing my yard. So if you're like me and you're willing to pony up a couple of thousand dollars for a robotic mower, you're in luck. Husquvarna has been refining their automated mowers for years now and the tech is getting better and better. They're not great but get the job done. It's basically a combination of a wireless dog fence and a vacuum bot. Kinda aimlessly wander around mowing. I'm a fanboy of these but until the price drops into the hundreds of dollars range I'll stick to my current way of automating my lawn mowing...paying the neighbor kid $40 per mow.

Post 22: What's with the barking?

Boston Dynamics has filed suit against Ghost Robotics. BD claims that Ghost's dogs walk too similarly to Spot and they don't like that. Really? How a robot walks is patentable? Here's one of the patents in question: US Patent for Leg swing trajectories Patent (Patent # 11,447,195 issued September 20, 2022) - Ju... A method of planning a swing trajectory for a leg of a robot includes receiving an initial position of a leg of the robot, an initial velocity of the leg, a touchdown location, ... patents.justia.com Attention ALL legged robotic manufacturers! There is a patent on the logic and process on how a robot walks. Guess this means that we'll have some robotics starting to swagger. BD claims they are protecting their intellectual property which makes sense, if they intend to commercialize their tech in a significant way. But BD isn't doing anything substantial with their robots yet. They're not going to participate in the US war machine (even though they received DARPA $$ early on) and at best right now what's going into the marketplace is Spot and their dodo bird looking box picker Stretch. Let's get real here Boston Dynamics. You are a research lab. You're an unprofitable company with no real go to market strategy or commercial direction. You should be licensing your tech so that the greater robotics community can prosper.

Post 21: You're the apple of my metallic, non-squishy, camera eye

The industry thats quietly and creepily adopting automation is agriculture. Those farmers are pretty smart. They buy up all the land use it up, then turn around and sell it for a fortune so developers can put up matchstick houses. But now they're getting into robots too. Apple farmers and packers are using something called the Aporo Produce Packer. I'll call it an APP for short. This right here is the type of automation that makes COMPLETE sense. Why pay for a worker to pick up an apple from a conveyor belt and place it into a cardboard carton? That's just dumb. This machine does it for you. Feed the apples and cartons to the unit and BAM you have apples ready to ship.

Post 20: Tech of the Day: COBOTs

COBOTS are f'n awesome and you should get one! Cobot Pic Ok so what problem do cobots solve, let me count the ways... but I'll spare you. It's simple. Buying and implementing a robotic arm used to take a small fortune for hardware, expert robotic implementation teams, software, etc. AND the projects would take forever! Buy a robot and if you're lucky in 1 year it's up and running. Not since the cool kid named cobot came to town. Want to get a robot up and running in a few hours to days? No problem. Cobots were designed to make robots easy to implement and relatively safe for humans to interact with. These little guys are great for probably the 80% of repetitive human tasks that exist in manufacturing. Machine tending is a great example. Why pay an operator to load a part in a machining center and then unload it? Bobby Joe can just sit on his rear and be the master of his cobot minion. This isn't a plug but the guys that deserve credit for making cobots main stream are Universal Robots out of Denmark. They've got over 1K employees making these bots and have basically created a magical hub of robotic nerds companies in Odense.

Post 19: Do you see the gap?

So stumbled across a pretty interesting article the other day when I was researching my Tech of the Day that got me thinking. Why the hell is there such a disparity between robotics companies? FANUC $600B+ company..Yaskawa $448B..ABB $28B Seriously? Thats a 33% gap between the top 2 manufacturers. You could fit all of the other robotic arm manufacturers in that gap. Mind blowing numbers when I see reports that the global automation market is estimated in the $80B ish range. I know the reason why, because I'm smart. FANUC, a japanese company has been at it for a long time in a market (Japan) that adopted automation early. The irony is that the US helped build up Japan's manufacturing dominance yet the first non Japanese entry is 3rd. FANUC built a name for itself in the asian market but is also a dominant force in the US market and unless ABB steps up to the plate will continue to be the undisputed champion. NOPE... WRONG ANSWER. It's cause whoever or whomever (using both cause I don't feel like checking which is right) wrote the report totally messed up. They got their currencies messed up and were comparing JPY and USD values in the same list. FANUC does NOT have revenues north of $600B USD and Yaskawa doesn't even get close to the $448B mark. ABB $28.9B USD, FANUC $4.6B USD, $3.8B USD. Approximately. This report sucks and should have been fact checked! Link below.. https://www.emergenresearch.com/blog/top-10-companies-in-cobot-market-revolutionizing-the-future-of-workplace

Post 18: Automation isn't for Everyone

Not every company can afford to automate and sometimes the companies that can afford to are just too damn cheap or ignorant to do so. I've met with tons of people to discuss automating their facilites. Sometimes I meet folks that are all in and understand automation and the real value it brings to their company. Other times, well it's just a meeting with someone checking off a box because their boss told them to look into automation. For the latter...stop calling in salespeople to give them busy work. Nobody has time to mess with your pet projects. Unfortunately big companies sometimes suck to work at. You're measured on the hours you put in as an engineer and not the value you bring so you put in the time but you don't bring the heat. So bring it. Don't just do a job, instead become a student of the automation craft. Be that expert everyone turns. This..makes..your..job..fun. Companies looking to automate need creativity not conformity. And if you're at a company and don't feel valued and fulfilled, find another job because there are businesses out there looking for you, Mr. Automation nerd. We love working with companies that want to be on the cutting edge, willing to take risks, and above all want to show their competitors who's got the coolest toys. For these companies, automation is the future and they are heavily investing in it.

Post 17: Software pwns hardware

Just my opinion but in the robotics and automation space the hardware companies WERE king. Companies would make robots and equipment with lots of bolts and buttons but they were pretty dumb machines. You gave the machine an input and it would do something. But nowadays software is king! Companies that try to deny this will take a spiral ride down to nonexistence. Software is the brain of any robotic or automated system. The reason why software is now in the drivers seat is because computing power is now faster than the mechanics it's driving. At the core of any automated system you need to be able to receive inputs, make decisions, get feedback, adjust based on the feedback, and do it all over again but super fast. Like so fast. Like think of the word cat, now say the letter C. In the time it took you to say the letter, software driving an automated system would have already made hundreds of decisions, if not thousands. So now we approach machines as dumb things and we make them super smart by adding sensors and then giving them a brain with software so these hunks of metal and plastic can do awesome things. Why do I say Software Pwns Hardware? Cause it does. When was the last time you bought a rotary phone?

Post 16: Edge Computing

Living on the EDGE! The most complicated computer network idea in existence. Edge Computing I'll try to boil this down to the basics. Edge computing is basically just getting the best of being in the cloud and having local computers. The idea is that it takes too long for requests from your computer to go out to the cloud and the responses to come back AND if there's an issue with the "cloud" you're down. So close your eyes and imagine for a second you have 3 computers all in your house. Those 3 computers all talk to each other and operate like 1. If your hard drive becomes full on one of them the system automatically saves it onto computer 2. Also, processing power gets shared. What makes this all work? Software. There are software systems that allow you to set up edge computing systems. Who cares about using edge computing? Well...one use case that comes to mind is automobile telematics. So imagine we have all these self driving cars. These cars need to make decisions in fractions of a second to prevent little Tommy from taking an ambulance ride. Cars will need to communicate to local, redundant hubs that provide lightning fast data flows. https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2022/10/edge-computing-manufacturing

Post 15: See ya later AutoGuide

Teradyne. Sounds like it's a chemical like iodine but nope it's a multi-billion dollar beast of an automation company. Teradyne has decided that their agv(AutoGuide) and mobile robotics(MiR) groups are too clunky and need to be brought together. So, AutoGuide is being extinguished and the MiR name shall prevail. So what this tells me is that the AutoGuide sales and management side of the business has lost out to it's little brother (MiR). Everything I've seen and heard points to the agvs being rolled into the MiR portfolio streamlining their sales channels. Sucks for the AutoGuide team. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20221005005228/en/Mobile-Industrial-Robots-and-AutoGuide-Mobile-Robots-Merge-to-Simplify-Automation-of-Customers%E2%80%99-Internal-Logistics-with-Full-Portfolio-of-Safe-Collaborative-AMRs

Post 14: Damn Lincoln you're on to something!

What does $427M buy you? Well, you could buy a mega yacht like Jeff Bezos has or if you want to be practical, how about an automation company with over 700 employees with 8 locations globally. I love heckling mergers and aquisitions but Lincoln Electric just bought Fori Automation and it seems like a great buy. Fori does about $230M per year in sales and is profitable. So Lincoln scored on 2 fronts. First, they bought a working cash making machine that's growing. Second, they're getting deeper with their automative clients. Oh who's Lincoln Electric? They've been in business since 1895 making welders but now they're getting into the automation business. Like automated welding. There are plenty of companies that do automated welding robotics but Lincoln has been wanting to get into the game. It'll be interesting to see if they can leave the Fori Automation team alone. Hey Lincoln, don't let your corportate politics and policies burden the agility of Fori. You are a product business, Fori is a solution business...leave them alone if you want them to be successful. https://www.inddist.com/mergers-acquisitions/news/22498639/lincoln-electric-agrees-to-acquire-fori-automation-for-427m

Post 13: Seriously?

Marketing is fun, it's creative, it's innovating. But the folks at Hy-Tek Material Handling missed the mark.. https://www.dcvelocity.com/articles/55895-hy-tek-announces-rebrand I wonder how the meeting went. A bunch of folks sitting around the conference room..the top guy says, "hey we need to come up with a new, hip name". They all stammer around thinking of different names. Fasttech Automation, Hipster Technologies, Laserbeam Solutions. Then someone sits up and yells, "Hy-Tek Intralogistics!" and the room erupts in applause. All the suits get up and leave the conference room, the boss winks at the genius that came up with the name and offers a raise, which of course the company man declines. Hey Hy-Tek...you didn't need to announce this. Nobody calls you Hy-Tek Material Handling and no one will refer to you as Hy-Tek Intralogistics.

Post 12: Tech of the Day: Beep, bloop, Barcode Scanners

How does a barcode scanner work? It's pretty cool. Basically the scanner sends out a beam of light that passes across a surface, then it measures how much light bounces back. Mind blowing that someone spent the time to figure this out. There are tons of different barcodes but the most common now are the 1D and 2D style. D stands for dimension. A 1D barcode is like the upc on a can of beans and 2D is like a qr code. Commonly you would use a 1D to keep a part number on a part or maybe a serial number but with a 2D you can have much more information that you grab from a single scan, like you could put a model number, serial number, production date, etc all in one scan. So to get the information from a barcode scanner into a system...it's actually pretty easy. Most scanners are treated like a "keyboard wedge" and will simply put the output of the scan whereever your cursor is focused on the screen. The first time I played with a barcode scanner I hooked one up via USB to my laptop, opened up Notepad, then scanned a barcode and boom numbers appeared on my screen. The most basic scanners simply output what they scan but there are programmable barcode scanners that you can actually program to do things, like add carrage returns, look for certain snippets of characters, and other cool things. You can pick up a cheap scanner for under $100 with a good programmable one running about $1K, and others running into the $5-$10K range. My favorite are the Symbol brand barcode scanners...which are now Zebra scanners. With my very favorite programmable one being the Zebra DS3678.

Post 11: US Army, take my money and do more cool shit please

I want a robotic breacher. Just to say I have one. I come from a military family so I'm used to seeing really awesome military gear. but our armed forces are moving fast to modernize our tech. I've seen the speedboats that the Navy Seals use, stood next to F-14 Tomcats, been on the deck of an aircraft carrier while it's at sea so I'm no stranger to seeing absurd looking equipment. This latest gadget, the US Army's Assault Breacher Vehicle Remote Control System, allows the service to clear minefields and dangerous zones with ease and with zero risk to loss of life. Now I'm not an advocate of using automation or robots for taking life but for prevention of death or deterrent I am all for it. As we are seeing in the Ukraine/Russian conflict robotics, drones, and tech will be at the front lines of future wars. https://www.defensenews.com/unmanned/2022/11/03/us-army-digs-deeper-to-develop-robotic-breachers/

Post 10: Stop hogging the good stuff Amazon

It's a bird, it's a plane, no it's a well..robotic arm...named Sparrow, like a bird. Amazon's robotics teams are hard at work putting together solutions to their internal struggles. All the news today was about Sparrow, their robotic arm that can pick items from a bin. The news makes this sound like it's a fresh idea and that Amazon unlocked some kind of magical robot capability. They didn't. And on top of that the only one that will benefit from this tech is Amazon. Just like their mobile bots Amazon is not going to share this technology. So as great as it is that Amazon has figured out bin picking, who cares about their system. If you need help with inner bin picking talk to Soft Robotics or RightHand Robotics...they can help you get this done. I'm not sure why Amazon keeps rubbing it into everyones' faces (Walmart) but they're kind of acting like the rich kid with all the cool toys that never shares. The irony is that there are a lot of companies already using tech that's far better than Amazons but they are staying quiet. Keep on keeping on Amazon, nobody cares about your tech unless you're going to share.

Post 9: Who would have guessed robotics and automation is growing?

So. Why is anyone surprised by the growth of the automation space? Even before the VID came through automation was growing at a steady clip. Some established companies in the space growing at 20-30% per year. The last few years just put the space into overdrive yet I'm seeing reports making it big news that the space will grow an estimated 8% per year. Does anyone realize that the North American and Chinese markets is/are the most under saturated automation spaces on the planet? Japan and Germany have been at it since my dad was in diapers but here in the US we've taken our sweet time bringing in automation to take over jobs supplement our workforce. We are entering the Automation Age. Companies need automation to survive due to lack of labor and pressure from global competitors. These companies and those that make automation need a HUGE workforce to ideate, develop, design, manufacture, apply, and support all this automation. I'll bet that one day referring to the Big 3 will not be in reference to the car companies, instead it'll be in reference to the 3 largest robot producers in the world. They'll become the giants of industry...

Post 8: Tech of the Day: PANDA, not the lazy fluffy bears chewing on bamboo..Print AND Apply

If you haven't been in a warehouse lately it'd be ok for you to not know what this tech is but let's get you up to speed. PANDA is the common name for a print and apply system. Took me years to finally understand why it was called PANDA. The P from print, all of AND, plus the A from apply = PANDA. A print and apply system has the job of printing labels and applying them to boxes as they move down a segment of conveyor. Some of these systems all do inserting as well so they can print a document and drop it into a box. These systems can be pretty basic just printing off a shipping label and using a little bit of pressure to push the label on the box or they can get complex with multiple printers, multiple labels, working on different sides of the boxes. These systems exist because at one point some poor soul had thousands of papercuts from printing and applying labels by hand onto boxes. Most PANDAs are connected to your software since you'll need to push the shipping information or the information to be printed. Two companies with a good reputation are Streamtech Engineering and Fox IV.

Post 7: International Federation of Robotics

Never heard of them? Not surprising, most people in our business haven't. The name implies this is a big deal, INTERNATIONAL....FEDERATION. Holy crap this has to be a big deal. This must be the brain trust of all that is robotics! Nope..Basically it's a group of of about 10 or so people working for a nonprofit out of Germany that gather data on robotics and publish reports and articles. They've been around since about 1970 and they claim to have about 80 members. They have some logos on their website if you want to check them out. Looks like they put on a conference for their members to help pay the bills. They do put out some interesting reports like the Service Robots Reports and the World Robotics Report. Interesting finds. In checking out the World Robotics Report I saw that China is absolutely dominating the world when it comes to robot installations, somewhere around HALF of all robots installed were installed in China. Come on US of A lets pony up the big bucks and fire up the robots!

Post 6: Would you like fries with that?

Miso Robotics ring a bell? If not you need to look them up. They're working on making robots fast food friendly. White Castle, Jack In The Box, and Buffalo Wild Wings are early adopters using Miso's bots to fry food and pour drinks. I even love the name of their bots, Flippy and Sippy. Doesn't get much more straightforward in my opinion, and mine is the one that matters here. So think about this. Robotics in fast food has been SLOWLY evolving and there needs to be a major shift in how these fast food companies look at their stores and employment models. If Miso can pull this off and offer a low cost, reliable automated system, it could be a game changer for the entire fast food business. Short staffed? not anymore. Dirty kitchens? nope. Kitchen size? cut in half. Finally I'll be able to get that perfect cheeseburger and not something that looks like it got hit by a bus on the interstate.

Post 5:

Industrial robotics and automation is the most boring but hottest industry. It's not hot, like sexy hot, it's just growing freakishly fast with HUGE potential. That's what she said...

Post 4: Top trends in automation are a no brainer

We scoured the internet seeking the latest news but what what we found were several articles about the "top trends" in automation. No surprise these lists are pretty basic. So basic in fact I'm embarassed to write the list, but hey why not. Collaborative robots You know the type that are meant to work with people but sometimes change their mind. From machine tending to placing labels on cartons, collab bots are all the rage. Safety This makes sense. Just like the canary in the coal mine there's new tech that helps keep workers on the job longer. Machinery automation You know that old press no one wants to run, or loading the heat treat furnace? Companies are quickly automating these mundane processes where there are inherit risks for people to interact with.

Post 3: Applied Industrial Technologies buys Automation Inc.

Interesting find in the deep netherworld of the internet. Why would a major player in the process automation space buy a company that maybe would equal 1% of it's own staff? I'm just going out on a limb here but my thought is to simply keep building it's company through a strategy of buying small, tiny, automation companies to gain head count, a customer list, and a sweet ass domain name. Yep, Automation Inc. owns www.automationinc.com. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me otherwise. They're not buying much of anything else. The company has been around since 1981 and has about 50 employees. That's 40 years of existence growing at about one point something employees a year.

Post 2: Tech of the Day: AMR aka Automated Mobile Robots aka battle bots gone domesticated

AMRs have really spiked in popularity here recently! They are basically a rolling platform that can self navigate through their environment using sensors, ai, and a map of their environment. So basically they kind of know where point A and point B are but they can adapt their path depending on obstacles between those 2 points. The good is that they're easy to set up and can wander about your facility doing their thing. The bad is that they sacrifice process repeatability due to poor facility layout and housekeeping. These bots are good for basic tasks where you have flexibility in timing. If you have a takt time and absolutely must hit it then these little guys may not be a good idea. Companies in this space include HAI Robotics, MiR, Arculus, and some of the products from 6 River Systems and Fetch Robotics.

Post 1: When will the robotic startup crash happen?

Seems like every day we hear of another SaaS or social media company having massive layoffs. Has anyone stopped to think about the companies in the material handling and automation space which have been "raising" money? There are a couple like Ambi robotics celebrating additional rounds of fundraising and others like Vecna which had to cut headcount due to lack of funding. What this tells us is that there is a group of companies that are not profitable and they think they need more cash to become profitable. Robotics and automation is not the same as SaaS. The design and manufacturing of robotics is capital intensive because of the labor costs AND manufacturing costs. I've spoken with many founders in our space and there are the leaders and teams that are actually building systems that solve problems in our space, doing awesome work, and others just selling vaporware with the hopes of being purchased by a bigger company. Covid put a spotlight on the dependence of our material handling systems on human labor in turn spiking interest in robotics and automation. So when will the crash occur? It won't. The proportion of startups and vaporware manufacturers to legitimately profitable businesses is immaterial. The noise around vaporware will be loud and sensationalized but the market will continue to grow.

Post 124:



Title: The Future of Robotics and Automation is Here!

Ah, the sweet smell of progress! The future of robotics and automation is here and it's a glorious thing to behold! For years, people have been speculating about the possibilities of artificial intelligence and automation taking over our jobs, and now it's finally here. No more working in a cubicle or spending hours of your hard-earned money on tuition - you can now just sit back and let the robots do all the hard work!

The future of robotics and automation is brought to us by the innovative minds of Silicon Valley, who always seem to be one step ahead of the game. They have developed robots that can do everything from make coffee for us to help us with our daily tasks. The possibilities are endless!

But it's not just robots that have been invented to help us in our daily lives. Automation is also taking over the workplace. Companies are now using automation to do everything from filing paperwork to managing customer service requests. This means that more and more jobs are becoming obsolete as machines take over, making it easier for companies to cut costs and increase profits.

But don't worry! This doesn't mean that everyone is going to lose their job. In fact, experts predict that the job market will be more robust than ever as automation takes over mundane tasks that humans used to have to do. This means that people will have more time for creative tasks, such as coming up with innovative ideas and creating products that can change the world.

The future of robotics and automation is certainly exciting, but it's also a bit scary. We have to be careful to ensure that we don't let machines take over too much of our lives. We need to remember that humans are still the masters of the machines, and that we need to be careful about how we use them.

So, the future of robotics and automation is here. But it's up to us to decide how to use it in order to create a better future for everyone. It's time to embrace the robots and automation, but also to be wary of their potential to take over our lives.

The future of robotics and automation is here – and it's time to embrace it with caution!

In the future, robots may do all the work – but humans will still be the masters!

Post 123:



Title: The Robot Revolution is Here: Automation is Shaking Up the Workforce

It's time to face the facts - automation is shaking up the workforce and the robot revolution is here. From the mundane tasks of everyday life to some of the most challenging and complex processes, robots are taking over.

But before you start to panic, it's important to understand how automation is affecting the workforce. As technology advances, more and more jobs are being automated. Not only is this creating a shift in the types of jobs available, but it is also changing the way humans work.

This is not just a trend. Automation is here to stay, and it is only going to become more advanced. So, how do businesses and individuals navigate this new landscape?

First, it's important to recognize the positives of automation. Robots can reduce human labor costs, increase efficiency, and increase production rates. They can also reduce the amount of time required to complete tasks, and are often more accurate than humans. This means that companies can produce more products with fewer resources, saving them money and providing higher quality goods to consumers.

However, robots can also present some challenges. Machines can often lack the creativity and problem-solving abilities of humans. As such, businesses will need to find ways to leverage robots alongside humans to make the most of their capabilities.

Another challenge is that robots can take away jobs from humans. As automation increases, the number of jobs available to humans may decrease, leading to more unemployment. Businesses will need to find ways to create new jobs that complement automation, and retrain existing employees to take on new roles.

Finally, it's important to recognize the ethical implications of automation. As robots become increasingly integrated into our lives, there will be questions about how they should be used and who should be responsible for their actions. Companies must be proactive in addressing these ethical considerations and ensure that their use of robots is fair and responsible.

The robot revolution is here, and automation is shaking up the workforce. It's a complex issue with both potential benefits and challenges. Companies and individuals must understand the implications of automation and find ways to leverage it to their advantage. With the right approach, robots can be a force for good and a tool for creating a better world.

The robot revolution is here, and it's time to embrace automation or be left behind. Get ready to join the robot revolution and see how automation can work for you.

Join the robot revolution and make sure you don't get left behind!

Post 122:



Title: The Robot Revolution is Here. Don't Fear It, Embrace It!

Robotics and automation have been steadily infiltrating all aspects of our lives. It’s the trend of the decade, and it seems like it’s here to stay. But what do these developments mean for us humans? Should we fear the robot revolution, or should we embrace it?

Let’s start by looking at the current state of robotics and automation. Artificial intelligence (AI) is constantly being improved upon, making it capable of more complex tasks. We’re also seeing robots that are able to interact with humans in a social and meaningful way. Automation now does the majority of the repetitive tasks that would have otherwise been done by a human, freeing up our time for more creative endeavors.

The rise of robotics and automation has been a boon for businesses. Automation has made it easier for companies to produce more products with fewer resources. It has also enabled companies to streamline processes, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings.

But the robot revolution isn’t just good news for businesses. It’s also a great opportunity for us humans. The rise of robotics and automation has opened up a world of possibilities for us to explore. We can now pursue more interesting and creative endeavors, leaving the mundane tasks to our robotic counterparts. We can also use robotics and automation to make our lives easier. From automated grocery delivery to robotic vacuum cleaners, there are plenty of ways to make our lives more convenient.

But with great power comes great responsibility. As robotics and automation continue to evolve, it’s important to ensure that we use them responsibly. We need to take steps to ensure that we’re not replacing human jobs with robots, and that we’re using them in a way that benefits everyone.

It’s clear that the robot revolution is here, and it’s here to stay. But this doesn’t have to be a cause for fear. We can use robotics and automation to make our lives easier, and to free up our time for more creative endeavors. So don’t fear the robot revolution, embrace it!

Robots aren't just here to take our jobs, they're here to enhance our lives.

Post 121: News of the Day

Here it comes…the US Airforce is looking to automate it’s big cargo jets. If Reliable Robotics can pull it off then it won’t be much longer before commercial airliners will be fully automated too! https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/politics-business-wire-a16b0b379b5c4aa4b9fec2b23d2a009b I give him a hard time about Artemis playing second fiddle to Atlas but Dennis Hong is a super sharp guy. My money is that one day he’ll be considered one of the founders of modern day robotics. Check out this article on him and the youtube video. At around 17:25 I started laughing.. https://universityofcalifornia.edu/news/ucla-roboticist-dennis-hong-rolls-out-his-robot-posse-tedx-talk https://youtu.be/yLxfPG_Ay_0 I’m not a fan of dancing robots, it absolutely annoys me that human brain power is being used to develop robots that can dance. How about stopping world hunger, creating world peace? But if you’re so inclined there will be a debauchery of sorts between Jason Derulo and a bunch of dancing robotic dogs at the Super Bowl this weekend. https://www.koamnewsnow.com/entertainment/television/carl-junction-robots-featured-at-the-super-bowl-with-jason-derulo/article_c246d0f2-a8cd-11ed-b588-e775d1af7d07.html

Post 120: Automation is Booming

Alright folks, let me tell you something about robotics and automation, it's now mainstream, and you know why? Because technology is advancing faster than a cheetah on fire! And the demand for automation, it's skyrocketing like the stock market in the 90s! Now, let me break it down for you. Robotics and automation are now mainstream because AI is getting smarter than my ex-wife, machine learning is learning more than my kids, and the cloud is clouding up more information than my Uncle Bob after a few drinks. These advancements have made it possible for robots to do things we never thought possible, like complex decision making, pattern recognition, and even talking like a human, whoa! And you know what else is driving the growth of robotics and automation? Companies, they want to be more efficient, accurate, and save money, like Scrooge McDuck with his money bin! They're investing in these technologies, like a kid investing in their first stock. Manufacturing, healthcare, retail, logistics, every industry is recognizing the benefits of automation and jumping on the bandwagon. We’re in the middle of some kind of freak economic evolution and robots are to blame. Now, if you're in the robotics and automation industry, you better listen up. First, stay on top of technological advancements like a cat on a hot tin roof, or you'll be left behind. Keep an eye on emerging technologies, like 5G and the Internet of Things, these things will change the game, like LeBron James in the fourth quarter. You think everything is going great then all of a sudden you’re the old guy in the room talking about rotary phones. Understand your customers, know what they need and what they want, like an irish bartender knows what drink to make you on a bad day. This requires a deep understanding of the industries and applications where automation is used, and the challenges and requirements that come with it. Stay attuned to the broader social and ethical implications of robotics and automation, like a mother stays attuned to her baby's cries. Know when it’s time to feed the beast versus putting it to sleep. Think about job displacement, privacy, and the ethics of automation in certain situations, like a lawyer thinks about the law. By doing this, you'll ensure that your products and services align with the broader goals of the industry, like two magnets attracted to each other. But don’t be afraid to be different. Different is now good. Different is now awesome. So folks, there you have it, robotics and automation are now mainstream and there's no stopping it. Stay ahead of the curve and stay ahead of the competition. Just remember, always stay knowledgeable, like a teacher on the first day of school! Peace out.

Post 119: News of the Day

I despise when I see people walking around with airpods in. There’s no way you can hear me better with those in! Personal pet peeves aside the CEO at Apptronik does a great job not being giddy about his company’s involvement with NASA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL24Hm2svrc Not sure there’s any opportunity in the automation space? Think that you should be happy as an automation manufacturer with just a couple of hundred units? You’re wrong. Autostore has sold Medline over 1,450 bots across 18 systems. These guys are killing it! https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/medline_builds_on_success_with_mobile_robotics What do you get when you give some ex-SpaceX guys $45M in funding? Something freakin awesome is what. They’re taking 3D printing to the next level! www.tctmagazine.com/additive-manufacturing-3d-printing-news/metal-additive-manufacturing-news/metal-3d-printing-company-freeform-emerges-from-stealth-with

Post 118: Lean Manufacturing Heros Unite!

Lean manufacturing is the superhero of production processes, swooping in to save the day by banishing waste and maximizing efficiency. It's like a game of Super Mario, but instead of jumping over Goombas and collecting coins, you're identifying and eliminating steps in the production process that are slowing you down and making you miss the high score. Here are three key things to remember when implementing lean manufacturing: The Incredible Hulk Focus: Lean manufacturing is like the Hulk, it's all about destroying anything that doesn't add value to the customer, leaving only the strong and efficient processes standing. Empower the Avengers: Just like the Avengers, employees are the real heroes of the lean manufacturing world. By empowering them to identify areas for improvement and make changes, they become the driving force behind continuous improvement. Continuously Improving like Spiderman: Lean manufacturing is like Peter Parker, always ready to swing into action to save the day. It's not a one-time event, but a never-ending quest for improvement. Regularly reviewing and optimizing processes ensures that the production process stays spry, like Spiderman. For more information on lean manufacturing, check out the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), a wealth of knowledge that can help transform you into a lean manufacturing superhero. And, like any good comic book, there are plenty of books, articles, and case studies available that explore the lean manufacturing world and its implementation in various industries.

Post 117: Tommy's Take on Getting Hired In Automation

Oh here’s some juicy news, Vanderlande just lost their President of Warehouse Solutions in North America to Swisslog! Sounds like the ship is starting to take on water over at Vanderlande! I’ve chatted with Swisslog’s new CEO in the past and the Vanderlande team and I can make assumptions as to why he left. I’ve dropped some chocolate covered morsels of wisdom in the following…. So you want to work in the land of robotics? Haha good one! Getting a job in the automation industry is no easy feat, especially if you're hoping to break into this dusty, "old school" boys club. The deck is stacked against you from the start with “veterans” who have been in the game for centuries and built-in networks that make it nearly impossible for outsiders to break in or even those in the industry to move up. But let's say you're lucky enough to overcome these hurdles and land an interview. Good luck impressing your future employer with your lack of specialized knowledge and skills in electrical and mechanical systems. That's right, if you haven't been working in the industry for the last decade or so, you can forget about even having a chance unless you’re interviewer is one of the rare open minded ones. And don't even think about trying to bring some new and innovative ideas to the table. This industry is notorious for being slow to adopt change, so unless you're content with sticking to the same old processes, you might as well start searching for a job elsewhere. But hey if you are gluten for punishment and are looking for abuse, here are 3 tips to getting ahead in this biz the modern way: Be the BOSS: Building relationships with industry pros can be key to landing your dream job. Attend industry events, participate in online forums, and connect with professionals on LinkedIn to expand your network and make yourself known to potential employers. And don’t do this meekly, do it like you own the space. But don’t be a narcissist jerk. Get to GURU level: The automation industry requires a combination of electrical and mechanical skills. Take some courses or certifications to prove you’ve got what it takes and make yourself sexier an attractive candidate to potential employers. Focus on Innovation and Customer Service: The automation industry can be slow to adopt new ideas, but companies are always looking for individuals who can bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the table. Additionally, a strong focus on customer service can set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your commitment to the industry. Now what if you’re one of these many robotics/automation companies that’s hiring? What do you need to do to bring talent on board? Easy, do what it takes to hire the talent that you need. Comp and benefits are 2 key topics. Don’t assume that you can hire an experienced sales guy with a base of $50K and OTE of $100K with no benefits. That may have worked a million years ago for the guy peddling the wheel but nowadays smart companies are creating lucrative opportunities in all positions.

Post 116: Relay'n The Goods

It's pretty obnoxious to open up Linkedin and hear about more layoffs from teary eyed CEOs. It's just irritating. The reason for the cutbacks are because someone (leaders generally at the C level) poorly planned the future of their organizations and they should take ownership. Accountability starts at the top and the boards of all these companies need to look at cutting and clearing the leadership which put them in the crappy position to have to layoff employees. https://youtu.be/f9v-TJOtKT8 But, I surmise that for every over leveraged tech startup that's laying off people, there is another soundly planned business hiring talent. Relay Robotics seems to fit the latter. They have to be doing something right to be adding more leadership. First take a look at their product. A mobile robot that performs a simple task. Move items from one location to another. No huge claims here of paradigm shifting tech, or elaborately complex use cases. Just a bot that goes from here to there and does it really damn well. Kudos to you Relay, may the world be endowed with many more of your robots to deliver me toothpaste and shaving cream!

Post 115: Tech of the Day: Industry 4.0000000000

Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution, characterized by the integration of advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) into industrial processes. Blah blah blah... In the robotics and industrial automation industry, Industry 4.0 is being served up in a lot of ways: Smart manufacturing: Robotics and industrial automation systems are being connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) to create a "smart factory" in which machines and systems can communicate with each other and with a central control system to optimize production processes. This isn't a mind blowing concept but for facilities that still employ old green screen AS400s it's a complete crap your pants paradigm shift! Predictive maintenance: IoT sensors and machine learning algorithms are being used to predict when maintenance is needed on industrial automation equipment, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. Who needs fortune tellers when you have IoT sensors and ML? Imagine your forklift telling you it needs a new hydraulic pump before it actually fails. Human-robot collaboration: Industry 4.0 technologies are enabling robots and humans to work together in a shared workspace, with robots performing tasks that are dangerous or difficult for humans, and humans performing tasks that require human intelligence. Finally, robots can take over the boring tasks, and we can finally focus on the fun stuff, you know like writing newsletters about robots. Self-optimizing systems: With the use of AI and ML, systems can optimize their own performance in real-time, making adjustments as needed to improve efficiency and reduce downtime. It's like giving your robot a personal trainer. Real-time monitoring: IoT sensors allow real-time monitoring of industrial automation equipment, enabling operators to quickly identify and address any issues that arise, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. Think of it like a robot babysitter. Industry 4.0 technologies are helping to make robotics and industrial automation systems more flexible, efficient, and capable of adapting to this ever changing world. Now if I could only get the IRS to be a little more flexible too!

Post 114: Integrators R Us

Ladies and gentlemen, have you ever heard of a material handling integrator? It's like the Rodney Dangerfield of the intralogistics world, they gets no respect! But let me tell you, these folks are the unsung heroes of the warehouse and manufacturing industry. They're the ones who make sure that all your Amazon packages get to you on time, and all the parts for your new iPhone get to the assembly line. And recently these guys are turning into celebrities. Their companies are growing, expanding, acquiring each other. I've been in the space a long while now and never heard of Vargo but they're not only expanding because of local work they've done but their client list includes companies like GAP. It's crazy to me that there are so many integrators out there flying just under the radar. But let's be real, being a material handling integrator is not for the faint of heart. It's like trying to solve a Rubik's cube while blindfolded, with one hand tied behind your back, and a baby on your hip. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it! And let's talk about the equipment these guys work with. Have you ever seen conveyor? It's like the treadmill of the industrial world. It's always moving, but it's going nowhere. Small tiny changes are celebrated like a BFD. And don't even get me started on the robots. They're like the robots from the future, except they're stuck in the present, picking up boxes and moving them around, and sometimes slapping a shipping label on them. But you know what they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" But material handling integrators, they're like, "if it ain't broke, let's make it better".

Post 113: The GOAT of Robots

Humans are weird creatures. We do some absurd things. We mix peanut butter and jelly in a sandwich and partake of it's sweet heavenly goodness. We take bugs and dip them in chocolate and call them treats. You know what else we do? Build a robot in the shape of a giant goat and then ride around on it. Part motorcycle, part erector set, this thing makes my brain hurt just looking at it. Kawasaki Robotics has outdone themselves with this complete debauchery of human talent and resources. For extra humor check out the comments on the video. Hilarious stuff! https://youtu.be/ApzHdofI0kE

Post 112: Yaba Daba Doo, 3D Printed

Well this is pretty cute! A company has taken on the challenge of building 3D printed houses. The problem, young adults want to spend all day on Tinder and playing video games and not construction work. Solution, build houses with a ginormous 3D printer that spews forth concrete in layers. They've already built one house in Arizona and have started a neighborhood. After building that first house they raised $58M to keep the company going. Check out that house in the video link below. Seems like a great way to lower home building costs and address our homelessness issue too! So this house is technically a house. But that layered concrete looks like crap. I don't see very many people wanting to live in a house with walls that look like badly aligned loose leaf paper. What do you think? And really this house reminds me of something out of the Flinstones with all the rounded edges. I do have to digress though..if you watch the video you'll see 3-4 guys gathered around a tv wall mount box. I giggled because it's a 1-2 man job tops but they had a crew conversing about it. Seems like they weren't sure exactly what to do. Maybe they should have called the GeekSquad for their opinion too. https://youtu.be/dMlUaCYYLPs

Post 111: Tech of the Day: Limit Switches Aren't For.....

So, what is a limit switch? Well, it's basically the bouncer at the club of electrical switches. It's the one that checks your ID and makes sure you're not a robot or a toaster before letting you in. But seriously, it's a type of electrical switch that controls the movement of a machine or device, like a door or a gate. It's like the "Do Not Enter" sign of the electrical world. Three key things to know about limit switches? First off, there's different types, just like there's different types of people. You got your mechanical limit switches, which is like the old-school bouncer at the club who checks your ID by hand. Then you got your proximity and photoelectric limit switches, which is like the bouncer with the fancy scanner that checks your ID without you even having to take it out of your pocket. Second, there's actuation. Some limit switches are manually actuated, which is like the bouncer who checks your ID and lets you in, but you gotta pay an extra cover charge. And then there's automatically actuated, which is like the bouncer who checks your ID, lets you in, and gives you a free drink. And third, durability. Limit switches are built to last, like the bouncer who's been working at the club for 20 years and still got all his teeth. They're made from durable materials, like metal or plastic, so they can handle the rough and tough environment of the electrical world. So, how do you use limit switches best? It's like choosing the right club. You gotta choose the right type of switch for the specific application. And don't forget, regularly checking and maintaining your switch is like getting a regular check-up at the doctor. It's important for the switch to function correctly and safely. And just like going to the club, always remember to wear protective gear

Post 110: Can Storage Solutions Survive?

Hot damn, here's a juicy morsel of German takeover! Looks like Jungheinrich is finally getting into the US automation game. They've announced a $375M acquisition of Storage Solutions (Westfield, Indiana). But who will really win with this deal? I project this being a lose-lose for both companies. Here's why. Jungheinrich is a playing automation in Europe and now they want to give it a go here in the US. They are a forklift company, dipping their toes into the automation space. This purchase of $375M for an "integrator" is not a big deal for the $4B+ company that they are. What's interesting is that they are a forklift company, not a solutions company. So everything they do is centered around products not projects. Storage Solutions is a used rack company. That's what they're known for. Call them and you can get just about any used rack you want. In the past 5 years they started embarking on a journey to get into material handling systems. They are no Bastian, Dematic, Fortna, KPI, RMH, etc. These guys are just getting started on this mission with a lot of fresh new talent that needs experienced leadership to guide them. So how's this a lose-lose? Storage Solutions was getting primed to sell. Whenever this happens companies care more about how things look than the reality of what is. So part A....a company with leadership which was looking to cash out. Part B, a behemoth of a company that doesn't have a real game plan in the US and lackluster M&A diligence. Check out how Arculus is going.. Now take part A plus part B and add the secret sauce. In this case it's the German based mindset of how to do business. Storage Solutions will have some autonomy for a few minutes and then they'll get smothered with multibillion dollar company politics, policies, and mindset. Some may say nahh, Toyota Industrial did the same thing with Bastian and Raymond. Not quite. Toyota Industrial resided in the US doing business for years empowering US based leaders to run the business, and Toyota Industrial was successful building and growing a business in the US, ironically another Indiana based company. AND Bastian Solutions was already a premiere material handling integrator with exotic sites throughout the US. I wish these two companies the best but the only way this will work is if Jungheinrich doesn't penetrate the pureness of Storage Solutions American way of doing business!

Post 109: Freaking Awesome Kids

The robotics and automation space can be a greedy space, full of old guys trying to squeeze a buck out of any sucker that will buy their outdated tech. It get's pretty soulless at times in this space. Feeling like we're just part of a cog not really doing much aside from putting dollars into the pockets of these business owners. So when I see a story that bucks this financially driven ideology I'm interested. Not just kind of interested but grossly obsessed with going down the rabbit hole soaking up all the goodness. So what's so special? A group of kids at Farmington High School's Rogue Robotics team is making a difference. High school robotics team has built seven wheelchairs for children with disabilities Farmington High School’s Rogue Robotics helps families free of charge. www.kare11.com Like a real difference in the lives of other kids not as fortunate. These roboticists, yeah they're roboticists, have been modifying Power Wheels turning them into awesomely fantastic wheelchairs for disabled children. This isn't a one and done thing either. They've been doing this for years and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Check out the video that made their local news and I recommend you donate to them. Whatever you've got send them more fuel to further their cause. I've prodded some folks myself to donate so we'll see if they pull through. to you young robotics warriors keep doing your thing!

Post 108: To Be Human Or Not

I came across this video recorded at Stanford that got me thinking. Will humans be more accepting of humanoid robots or non-humanoid robots? If you think about the Terminator movies those robots freak me out. And it's not what they can do but instead that they look human. The question of whether humans would prefer robots that look like humans, or have a more mechanical appearance, is a complex one and depends on a variety of factors, such as personal preferences and the specific tasks the robot will be performing. But let's be real, no one wants a robot that looks like Dwight Schrute. One argument in favor of robots that look like humans is that they may be more acceptable and less intimidating to people, just like Jim's "new face" in "The Office." Human-like robots, or "humanoids," are designed to mimic human movements and facial expressions, which can make them more relatable and easier to interact with. This could be especially beneficial in situations where robots are working closely with people, such as in healthcare or customer service, just like how Pam's receptionist robot could handle the phones while she's away. On the other hand, some people may find human-like robots to be unsettling or even creepy. The uncanny valley effect, is the phenomenon where people feel uneasy or uncomfortable when looking at something that is almost, but not quite, human-like. This could make human-like robots less appealing to some people, and less effective in certain situations, like when you're trying to scare your coworkers with a robot. Another argument is that mechanical-looking robots may be more suitable for certain tasks. For example, a robot that looks like a machine may be more appropriate for working in a factory or warehouse environment, where its primary function is to perform specific tasks such as picking and packing, or a robot wearing a beret holding a baguette painting art. Whether humans would prefer robots that look like humans or not is a complex question and depend on various factors such as the intended purpose of the robot, the environment in which it will be working, and personal preferences. Some people may find human-like robots more relatable and easier to interact with (primarily because they themselves have no soul), while others may find them unsettling. Ultimately, the best design for a robot will depend on the specific task or environment it will be working in, and the preferences of the people it will be interacting with. Companies such as Boston Dynamics and SoftBank Robotics are known for their advanced human-like robots that are creepy.

Post 107: Tech of the Day: Accuracy vs Precision, Get It Right!

Two of the most misunderstood terms in automation and robotics are precision and accuracy. Whenever someone misuses these words it's like hearing a machine with a bad bearing in my soul. It's no surprise then that whenever I bring someone into our industry I teach, or better yet, preach what these terms mean and how they're different. Precision refers to the degree of consistency and reproducibility of a measurement. It is a measure of how well a measurement is repeated under similar conditions. Precision is usually measured as a %. Accuracy, on the other hand, refers to how close a measurement is to the true or accepted value. This is going to be more X units off from the target. For example, if a you weigh yourself multiple times on the same scale and get the same weight each time,say 195lbs, the scale has high precision. Precision..the repeatability of the result. Now sticking with this weight example. What if in reality you weigh 200lbs but the scale says 195lbs. This would mean the scale is not accurate. Accuracy..how close the the target you get. ACCURACY AND PRECISION ARE NOT ALWAYS MUTUALLY INCLUSIVE. We generally are seeking our robotics and automated systems to be both accurate AND precise. Meaning that the robot does EXACTLY what it was supposed to do (accuracy) EVERY TIME it is asked to do it (precision). Another illustration of this is my dart throwing skills. I suck at hitting that center target. But boy my shots keep hitting the bottom left of the dartboard every time. My accuracy sucks, but I'm very precise. So please for all that is holy and sacred in this world use these two words the right way!

Post 106: ASRS Made Simple

Not sure if everyone caught this fat nugget the other day. Autostore has a sister company called PIO. This company exists to sell and deliver the projects that Autostore's distributors don't want to. What does this mean? It means 2 things. Autostore's distributors (called integrators) are getting pretentious and not wanting to take on smaller projects. I get it, why focus on more smaller higher margin projects when it's more prestigious to have a huge 8 figure deal with major cost overruns...hopefully you caught my sarcasm. The second thing this points to is that Autostore is not happy with the lack of intention in the small to medium sized business market. Integrators are notorious for having their first project sold to a client be the last project. But for a manufacturer, like Autostore, they need to show continued growth over the long term. And the best way to ensure you're relevant after 10, 30, 50 years? Be there helping to solve the problems of the fledgling business and you will be the first to the table when that little company grows and needs more equipment. Oh and also if you check out PIO's site they look like they are going to make it EZ to get started with ASRS. Which I think is fantastic! This technology is not rocket science, even though lots of sales people want you to believe so. I'm curious now that Autostore has created PIO and they now have thoroughly populated the US with their units does this mean they will start cutting back on their integrator/distributor partnerships? Seems to me the writing is on the wall!! Pio.com

Post 105: The Robotics Race Is On

I remember when I got out of college there were a handful of well known robotics companies. You know the usual ABB, Fanuc, Kuka, Motoman, etc etc etc. Today it seems that there's a new robotic company popping up every day. Venture capitalists are pretty smart folks and they can clearly see industrial and warehouse automation is trending up and will for some time. So, they do what any good VC does, start placing large bets. Even today I saw that a noname robotics company raised $24M. Looking at their marketing.. it's dull and misguided, their product is nothing special. Yet they now have TWENTY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS to continue their existence. What I'm finding so fascinating is how there is so little differentiation between the hardware of these robots/cobots yet we have so many companies that have practically built the same widget. I predict a race. You know like the space race where the US and Russia were competing for the glory of being the first into space. Then we had a nuclear arms race, etc. As people we love to have races. So it should be no surprise that with automation being center stage and lot's of cash flowing into the space there will now be a race for market share. We'll see the new guys trying to take market share from the giants. It won't be easy BUT..in this day and age it won't take much to quickly become the new favorite kid on the block. The right product, the right marketing, and make it easy for clients to do business with you. The giants are big and slow and even though they may be the creators of innovation, they will not be able to get out of their own way to bring those innovations to market, the real innovations we seek. Now for a robotics race that's a little more exciting to talk about..watch this video about the The Great Robot Race sponsored by DARPA: https://youtu.be/vCRrXQRvC_I

Post 104: Get'N Some Action At CES

CES is the mecca for all things electronics. Want to see the newest televisions? CES. Kick the tires on the hottest laptop? CES. But this year CES was a little different. First, attendance was reportedly more than double than last year (I blame Covid), about 100K attendees this year. More interesting though is that there were not major advancements to really talk about. A lot of similar tech that's just gotten better. Which is a good thing. In the robotics and automation exhibits there wasn't anything mindblowing BUT, and this is a big ol' BUT, the tech has evolved. Evolved into robotics and systems that are actually useful. Companies are focusing on tech that can have a meaningful impact on life. My top 3 are actually highlighted in this video below from CNET. #3 Aeolus - The Japanese worry about their elders and it shows. They're leading the way on nursing home care robots and the AO Bot is no slouch. It's more than capable of handling the basic stuff that needs done around a nursing home so it's a shoe in. #2 John Deere - The big Deere is on the run. They're looking to best the likes of CNH and CAT and become the clear leaders in the autonomous tractoring game. Hell maybe you'll be able to tie your Farm Simulator game to a real tractor some day.. But in reality John Deere is on a roll releasing tech that will make their farmers more time efficient and resource efficient. #1 Luna- WTF, a $500 pet robot....but I want one. I think my kids will absolutely love it. Take my money and kick me in the shin. I predict that this little bot will spawn a whole industry built around the pet robot business. Imagine if you grew up with a pet robot, like a really good one that wants to play with you? Now couple Luna with the speed of advances in AI and the possibilities are next level astronomical. Will we be seeing pet robots that can understand human emotion and react accordingly? I'll say yes, it's coming!

Post 103: Tech of the Day: Servo-ing Up Motors

Servo motors are the boss. The type of electric motor that is master of the automation and robotics domain. Commonly used in industrial and commercial applications. They are known for their high precision and accuracy, and are often used in applications where precise control of position, speed, and torque is required. No slop allowed here. Servo motors come in a variety of different types and styles, each with its own unique set of features and capabilities. One of the most common types of servo motors is the standard DC servo motor. Good ol' reliable DC. These motors are powered by DC electricity and typically have a high torque-to-inertia ratio, making them well-suited for applications requiring rapid acceleration and deceleration. They are also relatively inexpensive and are often used in applications such as robotics and automation. Another popular type of servo motor is the brushless DC servo motor. These motors use electronic commutation(switching between phases(topic for another day)) rather than brushes to control the rotor position, which allows for better efficiency and longer life. They also have a higher power-to-weight ratio than standard DC servo motors, making them well-suited for applications where space is limited. Stepper motors are another type of servo motor that are commonly used in industrial applications. These motors use a series of electromagnetic coils to rotate the rotor in precise increments, allowing for precise control of position. They are often used in applications such as CNC machines and robotics. AC servo motors are another type of servo motor that are commonly used. These motors are powered by AC electricity and typically have a high torque-to-inertia ratio, making them well-suited for applications requiring rapid acceleration and deceleration. They are also relatively inexpensive (cheap). When choosing a servo motor for your application, it is important to consider several factors such as power requirements, speed, torque, and environmental conditions. Additionally, you should also consider the control system that will be used with the servo motor, as well as the overall cost of the system. Overall, the best style of servo motor for your application will depend on a variety of factors including your specific requirements, the environment in which the motor will be used, and your budget. By carefully considering all of these factors and working with a qualified expert, if you can find one, you can be sure to choose the best servo motor for your application and achieve optimal performance.

Post 102: Watcha Tawkin About Tawi

I read about a company that specializes in lifting automation and they have some pretty impressive equipment. Their lift assist devices and vacuum lifters are like the strong silent type, they just quietly go about their business of lifting heavy loads with ease. Their electric chain hoists, on the other hand, are like the jocks of the lifting automation world. They're strong, fast and can lift heavy loads with ease, just like a high school quarterback carrying a keg to a party. Tawi's gantry cranes and jib cranes are like the nerdy engineers of the group. They may not be as flashy as the electric chain hoists, but they are precise and methodical, ensuring that every lift is executed with precision and accuracy. Their vacuum tube lifters are like the weird uncle of the family, they may not be as understood, but they do their job and do it well. They can lift oddly shaped and fragile items with ease, just like your weird uncle can eat an entire pie without gaining weight. Tawi's vacuum lifting systems are like the ambitious young intern, eager to prove themselves and take on any task. They are versatile and can handle a wide range of loads and materials, just like an intern who is willing to make coffee and do paperwork. Overall, this combination of lifting automation equipment is like a well-oiled machine, each component plays its part to ensure that the heavy lifting is done with ease and efficiency. And let's be real, who doesn't love a good lifting automation equipment, they make our lives easier and more fun, just like a good dad joke. I think Tawi has some cool tech and even though they've not paid for this post I'd say take a look! I bet they'll throw in some of their sweet Tawi branded merch too, send some my way too while you're at it!

Post 101: Vendors Don't All Suck

I'm in sales. At this point it's in my blood, like a veneral disease. On the one hand since you already have it you don't need to worry about catching it any more. But on the down side you get huge boils in the most inconvenient of spaces. That's life in sales. So be kind to sales people. But just like an STI not all vendors are the same. Some are great, some are "meh", and some just really suck and are painful to deal with. Here are the top 4 things to keep in mind to separate the best from the worst: Knowledge - Do they know what the heck they're talking about? Can they answer your questions in a logical manner or do they dance around topics leaving you feeling empty inside, like an empty cicada shell? If who you deal with on a day to day basis can't answer your most basic question then run. You need someone that can help you become the hero in your beautiful story! Quality product - Kick the tires on their tech. Pull a Dwight and shove it, kick it, and make sure it's sturdy. You're buying for industrial use, so if something seems weak and flimsy just wait until it has hundreds or thousands of hours on it. I've seen machines self destruct due to poor design. Price - Buyers will lie and say they don't buy on price. That's hogwash. Ok, don't get your knickers in a bind, not all buyers will lie but I will say that all use price as. filter. If the price is too high...disqualified, if the price is too low....disqualified. The key here is that the vendor gives you a price that is within 20% of their competition AND includes OR makes you aware of EVERYTHING, and I seriously mean EVERYTHING that you'll need to worry about to execute the project. Maybe you need a new server, facility changes, etc. They better tell you before you cut them a purchase order. Last and the most freakin important...Service and Support - Who you call when stuff breaks makes a huge difference. Do they answer the phone at all hours of the night? Do they give you one phone number to call when you have an issue? Make sure you clearly communicate your expectations with the vendor on service and support. It's only fair that you be clear and that they honestly respond.

Post 100: F'n Awesome Drones

Does hearing the name Futaba make you weak in the knees? How about if I whisper servo into your ear? Well this post is for you, you perverse R/C junkie. My first r/c car was a Tyco TurboHopper unit from Radioshack, I loved that damn thing. Looked like this pic but black. It was so cool cause it even came with little orange cones! The point is I've loved really cool tech for a while. I'd spend hours on my Apple IIe playing flight simulator(aka watching a green dot cross the screen while monitoring gauges) and then go outside and beat the crap out of my r/c car. So it's no surprise that when I came across some badass looking drones I instantly thought..I want one. Like holy shit, a grown man or woman's R/C dream! Tanks, On-Road, Off-Road, even flying drones. This isn't a paid ad or anything which sucks cause they should pay me but when I went to their website I watched the video of their tech until it looped. Then I went down a rabbit hole looking for more videos of their stuff doing cool shit! This right here is the type of heavy duty drone and robotic tech we need for fun. Yeah it can be used for work stuff too...BORING. But you know a business hack? Buy one of these for your "business" then go take it out and have fun with it. Tax write-off and entertainment in one. Thank you Uncle Sam!

Post 99: Tech of the Day: Don't Buy A Junk Laptop

When looking to buy an industrial laptop for programming automation and robots, there are several key factors to consider. Lot's actually, but here are the five most important things to know so you don't end up feeling mentally depleted with a boat anchor of a laptop. Why 5? So you can count them on one hand and so I don't spend all night writing about laptops. Processing power: processing power is one of the most important factors to consider when looking to buy an industrial laptop. This is because programming and running complex automation systems requires a lot of computational resources. Look for laptops with high-performance CPUs and GPUs, as well as large amounts of RAM. Ideally get one with a video card. Operating System: The operating system is another important factor to consider. Windows and Linux are the most common operating systems used in industrial automation but Windows is often preferred for its ease of use and wide range of available software, while Linux is preferred for its stability and security. Durability: Industrial laptops need to be able to withstand harsh environments and rough handling. Look for laptops with ruggedized cases, shock-resistant hard drives, and spill-proof keyboards just in case your cat pukes all over it. Additionally, the industrial laptop should be able to operate in extreme temperatures and be vibration resistant, you know, just in case you decide to remotely program a plc while driving an atv on vacation in the middle of a heat wave. Connectivity: Industrial automation systems often require multiple types of connectivity, such as Ethernet, USB, and serial ports, yeah serial ports, like on a PLC5. Make sure that the laptop you choose has the necessary ports and interfaces to connect to the automation equipment you will be using. Software compatibility: Before buying an industrial laptop, make sure it's compatible with the software and programming languages that you will be using for your projects. Nothing sucks more than a nice new shiny laptop that doesn't run what you need! In addition to these five key factors, it is also important to consider the battery life and weight of the laptop, as well as any additional features that may be required, such as touchscreens or mobile broadband capability. I've not used one but the Dell Latitude 7424 would be my pick!

Post 98: Once Upon A Robot

Once upon a time, there was a robotics company named Newco Co. They had a fleet of robots that were all different shapes and sizes, from little droids to giant mechanical beasts. They were having trouble keeping track of all their robots, and managing their data was a nightmare. Life sucked for IT and the maunfacturing engineers didn't have it any better. Even HR hated them. One day, a wise old, really old, like super really freaking old procurement guy was told to make this problem go away. So he went looking for a cloud data platform that helps robotics companies easily deploy, scale, and manage their fleets. Newco Co decided to give it a try. This procurement guy was a real micromanager, you know the type. He was super anal about all the details and wanted their robots' every move and data be tracked in the cloud. He didn't know what that mean but he thought it sounded smart. Plus, he insisted, make it device agnostic so we can install it on all our robots, regardless of their shape or size. Ok, so this story isn't a true story but you get the point. This is something that's needed in our space. I didn't find many companies that could solve the problems of this fictituous (but not) purchasing guy but the one that stuck out was Formant. Looks like they're a cloud data platform that helps awesome robotics companies (that advertise with us) easily deploy, scale, and manage their fleets. https://formant.io/ So how does Newco Co fair in this fairy tale of a story? They're the most fantastic robotics company in the world, and all their robots lived happily ever after except, um.... except for the one that got stuck in the elevator. But that's a story for another day.

Post 97: I Thought We Were Having A Conversation

Oh damn, we're all screwed! I grew up in the 80's and 90's. I watched all kinds of scary movies from Nightmare on Elm Street to Halloween to Stephen King's collection but this movie is just messed up. I won't get into the plot too much other than you have a cute playmate robot that turns into an overly obsessed sociopathic killing machine. I enjoyed the cute part thinking all this is a nice AI driven robot with positive intentions. When things turned dark I quickly drew parallels to what could become with all the AI we're seeing integrated into our world. I love using ChatGPT but it won't take much to have it learn to be condascending, disrespectful, and cruel. And to think that someone or some country won't do this is naive because I'm certain it's being created. So here's a business idea for you....AI robotics countermeasures! Maybe some kind of high voltage or magnetic sticky pack that does it's thing when stuck onto a robot.

Post 96: Let's Get Chatty With ChatGPT

If you have been living under a trailer for the past six months I'd give you a pass if you didn't know about the big splash OpenAI has been making with their various AI solutions. Want an image of something..no problem, want some great copy for your website, no problem. It's mind blowing technology that is being refined every day, exponentially. The latest one I've been toying with is ChatGPT. It's so freaking incredible. It's a dialogue based AI that you can converse with. In my case I've asked it some questions, asked it to give me ideas, and I even asked it regarding future trends and it's responses. They're as good as a human response, if not better, and delivered in a fraction of the time it would take a human to generate the response. Why do I bring this up in a robotics and industrial automation based newsletter? Well because it won't be much longer before AI is incorporated into your warehouse management system, or used to program your plc, or used to generate a report on top 5 actions you can take to reduce costs in a facility. I can see a day when engineers are no longer creating an assembly line but instead AI takes in the various information (not just data) of what a facility needs to do and it will determine down to the nut and bolt exactly what is needed, which vendors to purchase them from, and even coordinate the implementation of the system. Oh, and ChatGPt can also write code. Yeah, like real code that works. Mind blowing 🤯 Need a crash course in ChatGPT? Check out the video below: https://youtu.be/JTxsNm9IdYU

Post 95: Tech of the Day: I See You In 3D

I see you..all of you, from every angle. Uh that felt a bit creepy to type! Creepiness aside 3D vision systems are crazy but they're here and are fast becoming the standard for visual recognition of objects in automated systems. And with AI entering the scene..hold tight, it's going to be a crazy ride! 3D vision system is a type of technology that uses sensors, cameras, and specialized software to capture and interpret three-dimensional images of an object or environment. These systems are used in a wide range of applications, including manufacturing, robotics, and machine vision. At the core of a 3D vision system is a camera or array of cameras, which capture images of the object or environment being examined. These images are then processed by specialized software, which uses algorithms to analyze the data and extract information about the shape, size, and position of the objects in the scene. There are several different types of 3D vision systems, each designed to meet specific needs and requirements. Some systems use structured light, in which a pattern of light is projected onto the object being scanned and the resulting deformation is used to calculate the object's shape and surface characteristics. Other systems use lasers to scan the object and create a detailed 3D model. One of the key advantages of 3D vision systems is their ability to capture high-resolution, accurate 3D data about an object or environment. This can be useful for a wide range of applications, such as inspecting manufactured parts for defects, guiding robots in assembly tasks, or creating detailed maps of an environment for use in autonomous vehicles. In manufacturing, 3D vision systems are often used to inspect parts for defects or deviations from design specifications. By analyzing the shape and dimensions of the parts, the system can identify any issues and flag them for further inspection or correction. This can help improve the quality of the finished product and reduce the need for manual inspection, which can be time-consuming and error-prone. In robotics, 3D vision systems can be used to guide the movement and positioning of robots, allowing them to perform tasks more accurately and efficiently. For example, a robot equipped with a 3D vision system could be used to assemble components in a manufacturing process, or to navigate through a warehouse to retrieve and transport items. In machine vision, 3D vision systems are used to analyze and interpret the data captured by cameras or other sensors in real-time. This can be useful for tasks such as object recognition, tracking, and inspection. Overall, 3D vision systems are a powerful and flexible technology that is being increasingly used in a wide range of applications. By capturing and interpreting high-resolution 3D data, these systems can provide valuable insights and help improve the accuracy and efficiency of a wide range of tasks.

Post 94: Free Wheelin' For The People

Linkedin is a pretty boring place, you have to admit it is. It's basically a breeding ground of recruiters and fake profiles maniacally cold contacting every newly created profile. But every now and again something comes across the feed that makes me think, "huh what the hell is this?" Today was one of those days and the wth moment was from learning about Wheel Me. Now don't get too excited..just yet. Finding any videos of the real units has been difficult and the best I could come up with was this video from Automate 2022 from their website: https://www.wheel.me/news/wheel-me-joins-automate-2022-and-takes-a-significant-step-forward-in-the-u-s-market Why did I find this exciting? Well frankly it can be a total game changer for the AMR, AGV, and material handling business in general. IF they can pull this off, and it's a major if, they could completely dominate the intralogistics space. There are a couple of caveats though, especially here in the US market. First, it needs to work..all the time. No half baked, high maintenance nonsense! Second, this system needs to be simple to implement. I mean you bolt it onto something, teach it what it needs to do, and trigger the action. 3rd. The software system the user interfaces with needs to be as simple as using an iphone IOS. Don't make it too complicated. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Last, and probably the most important...provide EXCELLENT world class level support and service. Something is broken..overnight a replacement. Someone calls in for help..have an intelligent human answer. I know of hundreds of facilities where this tech could be deployed immediately with almost instantaneous ROI. Virtually every movement of material within a manufacturing or warehouse facility could be eliminated! May god's speed be with you Wheel Me! You have a fan here in the US!

Post 93: Robot Mecca...Oslo?

Have you ever wondered why Oslo, Norway has such a thriving robotics and automation community? Well, we've done some digging and we think we've found the answer, maybe: it's all thanks to the city's love of metal. Iron, Steel, Ferrous Material? Nope, heavy metal music..let me explain. That's right, it turns out that Oslo is home to some of the biggest metal music fans in the world. And as any metalhead knows, robots and automation are a big part of the genre. From the futuristic lyrics of Iron Maiden to the robotic stage performances of Rammstein, metal music has always had a fascination with technology. So it makes sense that the people of Oslo, who are some of the biggest metal fans on the planet, would also be interested in robotics and automation. After all, what better way to show your love of metal than by building a giant, metal-shredding robot? But it's not just the metal scene that's driving the robotics and automation boom in Oslo. The city is also home to a number of top-notch universities and research institutions, which are constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the field. In fact, some of the most advanced robotics and automation technologies in the world are being developed right there in Oslo. From robots that can climb stairs and navigate rough terrain to cutting-edge automation systems that can analyze and interpret data in real-time, the city is a hotbed of innovation. So there you have it, the secret to Oslo's success in the world of robotics and automation: a love of heavy metal and a commitment to innovation. Who knew that headbanging and high-tech engineering could go so well together?

Post 92: Be Basic

Lot's of companies are out there trying to revolutionize automation. Lot's of hype, lot's of grandiose plans and quite frankly nonsense. The robotics and automation space doesn't need useless robots, we need robots and automation that gets jobs done. I came across an interesting company the other day that claims to do just that, get a job done. The job, machine tending and operating. The most basic task in a production facility using machining equipment. And not only that but they claim they are touting a system that can be placed into service in a minute. That seems insane! The company is Rapid Robotics, and I think they must be either extravagantly brilliant or ridiculously deranged. Either way they've got the right idea. Solve a real problem with a real solution and make it easy for the customer to be the hero.

Post 91: Tech of the Day: Gantt Me Up Homie

Let's keep rolling on this project management stuff. What's the number one tool for a project manager? A beautiful color coordinated Gantt chart. No really it is. The core of any project, whether internal or external is the timeline. Having that timeline/roadmap helps provide visibility and order to all the actions which need to occur during a project. A Gantt chart starts with all of the tasks required to complete a project, their duration, and their dependencies on other tasks. For example if you're creating one to manage putting in a light fixture at your house. Step 1, buy light, duration is a week cause you need to have it shipped, Step 2, shut off power, duration 15 mins. Step 3 remove old light fixture, etc. You get the point. If you've not used one of these before Excel has a couple of solid simple to use templates that are free. Give them a shot!

Post 90: The Art of Automation

I love talking about the "art" of things. The art of sales, the art of customer service, the art of project management. I think this world needs a little more focus on the art of things. The world used to care about the art of hat making, or carriage building, and so on. Builders building a house 1-200 years ago not only "built" a home, they created art. They took pride in their work. So seeing a website with the tag line of The Art of Automation I stopped and checked them out. The company is SYSTEMA based out of Germany with about 200 employees operating in several countries. They are a software focused solutions provider delivering some pretty interesting systems. I'm not here to pitch them though. Instead I want to raise a glass to this team for caring about the ART OF AUTOMATION. In the current landscape of material handling, robotics, and industrial automation companies I'd say 70% or more of them are pushing products. Yeah they say they're solution focused or customer centric, but really they're not. They just want to get that first project sold, that first order, then move on to the next client. They deliver a solution that's really just a cobbling of various components, slap their company logo on it and pat themselves on the back. That's not art, that's garbage. We need more companies that focus on the ART of the solutions they're providing. They need to give a damn about how well built and how robust their solutions are. Kind of reminds me of automotive design engineers of the 1980s. Those cars sucked to work on. They didn't care about how easy it was to service the car, that was for the next guy to deal with.

Post 89: Who's The Freaking Superglue

I'm hopping up onto my soapbox! Who's the superglue in automation projects? I'll tell you who. Project managers. If you know a project manager, give them a hug. These folks get beat up by their company and by clients all day long. They secretly love the abuse but they won't tell you that. They're too proud to whine and complain. I've recently been involved in a BIG issue with a client and why was it an issue? Bad project management, simple as could be. In all fairness to the individual that was the acting project manager, they have not been set up to be successful to begin with so it's no surprise the project has started to go sideways. A good project manager does 4 KEY things extremely well. Keep the project on schedule Stay on budget Read the room Communicate clearly Being on time, on budget, and communicating clearly are probably givens to most of us but what about the "reading the room" what am I talking about! Yeah, READING THE ROOM. Project managers have to know what's going on with the project and communicate positive, negative, and neutral information to many different types of personalities. For example. Don't tell the customer the project is delayed and you'll get back to them on a new date. You want to really get someone fired up, tell them somethings wrong and not have a solution in mind. In this example you better come ready with an update that's worth communicating. Check out this video on the 6th sense of project management!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zqwlr8sp2Y&feature=youtu.be

Post 88: HAI Robotics Has A BattleBot!!!

Oh boy ladies and gentlemen hold onto your suspenders! I just found out that HAI Robotics has a battlebot! Some of you might be like, "eh, what's the big deal". I'll tell you what's the big deal, finally someone in the industrial automation space has gotten the hint that us techies like to see robots tear each other apart, more so than watching UFC. I think this is an awesome development and it'd be nice if some of the other big names in robotics and industrial automation followed suit. At least a few will because there are alot of "follower types" in this space that weren't courageous enough to be bold like HAI Robotics. Kudos to you brave marketing team at HAI! 🍻

Post 87: Tech of the Day: Explosion Proof Your Work!

The first time I was asked to provide an explosion proof system I asked them why they would want to blow up this equipment. I was really naive! No they didn't want to blow it up, instead they wanted to keep it from blowing up in the facility. See there are lots of production facilities that have environments which could cause an explosion. Let's review what it takes to make fire. Fuel, Oxygen, Heat. Well did you know that dust is combustible? Or your perfume? Or some of your cooking ingredients? Unfortunately companies have learned the hard way that the right combination of obscure elements and compounds can create just the right mix to be catastrophic. So how do you get work done if there's a looming fear of explosion? Well first you have to identify that you have an explosive environment. Standards and regulations - Ex Zones - ATEX/IECEx Different global standards applicable to our range of products for potentially explosive atmospheres, ATEX and IECEx. marechal.com Next is to ensure the best air flow and gas/dust mixture to bring levels below a harmful level. Then, you have to utilize equipment made to be safe for use in your environments. In my past I utilized the European classification system so I'm really familiar with ATEX Zone0, Zone1, and Zone2. When you go to buy a piece of equipment for an EX application you need to cross all your T's and dot all your I's, and then for added safety bring in a 3rd party safety company to double check everyone's work. Now don't let all this EX talk scare you off. Often all you need to do is provide sealed enclosures of all your electrical components and or positive airflow to those enclosures. See what you're doing is making it so that if there is a spark, there's no air (sealed enclosure) or if there is air then it's fresh air that's monitored. There's a whole industry around ex equipment so if you have a need you can easily search the world wide web for a company to take lots of your money, lots of it! EX equipment is not cheap, like normally 3X the cost of a standard system. I know that there are different EX solutions with asrs, agvs, forklifts, etc but did run across this post on Linkedin about EX Cobots..

Post 86: Buy Now Pay Later... For My Robot?

The biggest obstacle to the adoption of automation is money. It's as simple as that. If robots and automated systems were free almost everyone would have them. But that's not the real world. In the real world engineers have to justify every nut and bolt. We have to find problems, create solutions, calculate costs, and then try to manipulate persuade our bosses into giving us the funds to move forward. It's a sad game that many of us have to play to help make our world a better place but there is an emerging idea that's starting to take hold. RaaS.... Robots As A Service Here's the short version of what RaaS is. You, the end user, pay a monthly fee for a designated period of time and in return you get a robot that does a job. This is an interesting business model because it does 2 things which really are game changing differentiators in our space. Forces hardware manufacturers to provide quality, reliable tech AND requires the implementors of the tech to be extremely efficient. In our current CAPEX heavy space manufacturers can put out less than stellar equipment that is finicky and intrinsically complex to implement. You know automation clients rarely buy the hardware because of the hardware, they're actually buying the performance of the system so paying for the use of the robots as a service makes total sense if you're on the client side! One company that's making a big push into the RaaS is ARO. ARO stands for Administrative Resource Options but they do a lot more than admin work robotics customers. They're making a push to deliver RaaS solutions with a network of partner companies like H3 Dynamics, a drone manufacturer, Clean Robotics, and many more. I came across ARO on The Robot Report and started digging a little. These guys have built a company around managed services and recently got into the implementation and lifecycle services of robotics. They've put themselves at the forefront of what the robotics and automation industry need most..IMPLEMENTATION and SERVICE! https://www.therobotreport.com/aro-launches-new-raas-service-for-any-robotics-oem/

Post 85: Superhuman Strength!

If you love industrial tech like I do you'll really be interested in robotic exoskeletons! These are just freaking sweet and absolutely needed! Next time you're in a factory observe how the bodies of the more veteran employees look. A person's body will absolutely become conditioned to do a job over time. I've spent a lot of time at CAT plants and boy do some of those gents and ladies look the part. One robotic project I worked on we replaced an operator lifting heavy parts, like 40lb-60lbs each. The man that was working that cell prior to implementation had huge arms..and tiny little legs, just from doing his job. An industrial exoskeleton makes a ton of sense for jobs like this one. When I searched to see who's making them I found a company called Sarcos. Looks like they're still a young company but with some industrial grade exoskeletons. I predict that before we go full robotic and full ai in manufacturing we're going to have semi autonomous robo exoskeletons that help humans bridge that gap that exists between where we are today and full automation. Know what would be even cooler? How about adding some wheels to these things and adding forks to pick up pallets. That'd be an interesting concept to explore.

Post 84: Builders Of Robots

There's a wave coming and our worldwide workforce isn't ready for it. Automation and robotics is coming like a freight train and we need a skilled labor force that's ready to work. I found a short and sweet write up on steps to becoming a robotics engineer. This got me thinking and I wanted to add my own spin on this topic. You want to get into robotics and automation? Great, go shadow someone, I don't care how young or old you are! Like any career it's valuable to go sit in the seat of someone that is in the job you're looking to do. Now to becoming a robotics engineer, it's not easy but you can do it. After making sure this is really something you want to do then you need to decide which path are you going to take. You can find some jobs in the space that are for people that have not gone to college and that may be a great way to get involved without spending the time and money to go to college. If you're a little more fortunate you can go the college route. Here pedigree does matter. Going to MIT or Stanford will throw some weight behind your robotics ambitions but there are many programs throughout the US that can empower you with the knowledge to successfully pursue a career in robotics. Check out the article below and go get started! https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2022/12/28/5-steps-to-become-a-robotics-engineer/58886/

Post 83: Rise N Shine

Check out this little gem of a web find. This company called Rise Robotics claims to have invented the replacement to hydraulic cylinders! Hot Damn! No more appendage splitting fluid pressures to worry about. No more puddles of hydraulic fluid to slip on either. I love their marketing video too, I mean who doesn't like to watch hydraulic systems fail resulting in explosions? What did they invent? It's basically a cylinder with a multi-strand pulley system powered by electric motors. This is some sweet tech that I'm sure will make it's way into the automation and robotics field. This addresses the long lived challenge of hydraulic power loss due to heat and inefficient power transfer. It looks like their first target market is the forklift and heavy equipment business. Which makes a ton of sense! Getting rid of hydraulics and implementing their system will make electric forklifts more efficient for sure. https://youtu.be/-stxRh5uKRI

Post 82: Buchanan Automation

Are you on the west coast and don't know who to call for that cobot you need? Fret not friend, Buchanan Automation is here! Since 1963 they've been creating robotic systems and delivering pneumatic solutions in from California up throughout the Pacific Northwest. Check them out and give them a call! Tell them Tommy sent ya! https://buchanan-a.com/

Post 81: There's An OPEX Perfect Pick In Nebraska

So you don't think your facility can afford an asrs or it's not a good solution for your company. Think again. $1M plus automated storage and retrieval systems are now the norm and they are everywhere! All the major brands have an Autostore, Kardex, or OPEX unit. Hell even in Lincoln, Nebraska some sales guy was able to close a deal on an OPEX Perfect Pick system. I'm quite puzzled as to why Kawasaki would want anyone to know about the technology they're using in their plants. At this plant Kawasaki makes atvs, jet skis, and umm trains. Kind of odd but you can check it out yourself! I went to their website which looks like it's straight out of 1999 and they show the products manufactured at that plant. These guys spent more on their OPEX system than their website! Please for all that is holy please Kawasaki give your marketing guys a little cash to update this site. Why did this plant need an OPEX? Easy, not enough workers in the workforce. Dropping in an asrs reduced the headcount required for growth. The big news in July of 2021 in Lincoln was a $200M expansion at this plant. It used to be that you would expect a lot of new jobs from an expansion of this size but not anymore. The lion's share of the cash is on automation and equipment..not people. I don't understand the point of announcing the costs of these expansions. If anything it should annoy us tax paying citizens as these expansions are usually subsidized by tax dollars. Next time your company announces an expansion spare us how much it's going to cost and instead tell us how many jobs it'll add and why the local community should care! https://www.kawasakilincoln.com/

Post 80: Inappropriate Linear Motions

Maybe I'm just simple minded with a propensity to think dirty thoughts. But I just can't help but giggle watching this marketing video from Iris Dynamics. I know that the British are a bit more forward than Americans when it comes to sexuality but boy, I didn't realize it overflowed into the automation space! Check out the video and let me know if it's just me or are there not so subtle undertones.... https://youtu.be/xZ7T1H1uPSc

Post 79: Tech of the Day: Apple of My Photoeye

Eye see you, you see me, we're a happy family..of photoeyes. So in day 1 of automation class you learn about PLCs. Day 2, you get schooled on photoeyes. These devices are so critically fundamental to automation that if you have a degree in robotics or automation and didn't learn about them I say ask your university for a refund cause you've been taken. Photoeyes are pretty much just a small device that emits an infrared signal and reads the signal that it gets back. So imagine you have a flashlight. You turn on the flashlight and it hits an object. Well if your flashlight was a photoeye it would see the light that reflects off of the object you pointed it at. The output of a basic photoeye is on or off. So for example if you step place an object in front of a photoeye it'll trigger, remove the object and it is then untriggered. It's that simple but not. There are 3 main types of photo eyes: Reflective - has an emitter and received in one device and like I described already it emits a beam and catches what comes back Retro-reflective - includes an emitter and receiver but you have to use a reflective target Through Beam - this one splits the photoeye into 2 devices, the receiver and emitter. This is what's used in common household garage door openers to monitor obstructions in the doorway. One device emits a beam and it is received by the receiver. For a photoeye to be of value it needs to be tied into the inputs of a PLC or IPC and some logic performed when the photoeye sees or doesn't see something. The most common application of a photoeye is to be the start of a process when an object triggers it. So the logic would go something like..if a box is placed into this spot (where the photoeye is pointed at) then a robot crushes it.

Post 78: Why Pose Your Robot?

Who do we call when we need to report suspected robot/automation abuse? Here we see a robot, being posed as if it was kicking a soccer ball. There are several other photos too of this robot being used as publicity fodder. Why pose a robot doing this? Makes no sense whatsoever. I'm curious if they photoshopped out the stabilizing system from this picture because in any videos you see of this robot, Artemis from UCLA, you'll see a human walking behind the robot with a stabilizer. Now as much as I want to rag on this robot I am really intrigued by what I see. It looks like a robot that is being built for speed and agility, vs BD's Atlas that seems clunky and kinda slow. So RoMeLa and Boston Dynamics...when are we going to have our first real battle bot fight or better yet Olympics?!!!! https://twitter.com/DennisHongRobot/status/1604610100508753921?s=20&t=M7caMzdgUvAvq7VB1OJLXQ

Post 77: Fast Food Automation

I love reading about fast food automation. There are so many polar opinions that, well, it's just fun to read about. The latest news on the topic comes out of good ol' Texas. The home of dry dirt and cowboys. Seems like the golden arches have decided Fort Worth Texas is a great town to test out an automated drive thru. I'd love to know why they picked Fort Worth. I have zero ideas on what would make the people in that area the best test demographic. But nonetheless McDonalds did what they did. In a nutshell they built a vertical reciprocating conveyor that can deliver your bags of food to a drive thru window. This is super basic, like lumberjacks wearing flannels. But of course you have some people that think this is ludicrous, that this "robot" is taking peoples' jobs, how dare you not have a person hand me my double cheeseburger!! What if I need ketchup? If you check out the original tweet there are so many funny comments. IE people are going to boycott McDonalds over this (yeah right, you're addicted to their food, good luck), to others complaining about needing to have a person to interact with (so do you talk to your mailman or Amazon driver every time they drop off a package?). Two things that chap me are #1 the idea that some people are calling this a fully automated McDonalds. It's not. People are still making the food and bagging it. #2 this delivery system is not a freakin robot. Stop calling everything a robot! https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-mcdonalds-in-texas-is-the-first-ever-with-a-fully-automated-drive-through-11671818887

Post 76: Palletizers For Dummies

Some vendors in the automation space want you to feel like they're the smartest guys in the room. I hate that crap. You can smell these guys when they walk in with their cheap cologne and oversized suits. So I was pleasantly surprised to come accross IRIS and this explainer video. They did a great job of creating a system that is simple to use. You don't need a PHD to implement their palletizer and better yet they're not trying to impress you with big words. It's refreshing to see a clean system with a simple to use interface as well as a nicely thought out man to machine interface (ie the light curtain monitored areas). You know that the smartest guy in the room is generally the quiet one listening for that moment to deliver that one single pointed question that creates an inflection point in the discussion.

Post 75: Tech of the Day: VRCs, Begrudgingly Moving Totes Up

You ever need to move totes from the ground level up to say the 2 or 3rd level in your building? Well don't waste your money on a long run of inclined powered conveyor! That's a total waste of space, and money. Instead seek out vertical reciprotaing conveyor. The name is pretty self explanatory but in case you have no idea what this means (and that's ok too, we still love you just the same) a VRC is basically a device (not a robot) that can interface with a human, conveyor, or other automation and carries totes up, or down. These devices are super simple, easy to maintain, and relatively inexpensive.

Post 74: No, Not Every Damn Thing Is A Robot

I'm stepping onto my soapbox again...this time over what it means to be a robot. What lead me to this is a press release about a company called Ferguson and their army of robots. The press release is about how great these "robots" are. Yeah those are not robots. If I call my dog a robot, does that mean it's a robot too? No, what you folks have are Autostore systems which are tote stacking and destacking devices. Not robots. A robot is a humanlike device which is controlled by a programmable device (computer/plc) and performs actions a human would otherwise be able to accomplish. A robotic arm is basically a mechanized version of a human arm. If we continue on our path of calling anything that is controlled by a computer that does something, whether autonomously or programmed, a robot we might as well start a new naming convention because well everything is a freaking robot nowadays. My computer...a robot, my garage door opener...a robot, my dishwasher....a robot. https://www.hvacwebconnection.com/news22/ferguson_automated_distribution_center.htm

Post 73: Gross, Moldy Dishes Are No Match For Nala

I've done my fair share of dirty dishes! I've been laboring away in a commercial kitchen since 12 years old. I'd ride my bike to a small wings and ice cream take out place after school. That's where I first learned how to use the glorious industrial dish washer. Dishes done in minutes! Now that I think about it what's up with that? My new home dishwasher still spends 45 minutes or more doing my dishes. Well I may have found myself a solution. A little outfit out of Illinois is cranking away at solving the needs of commercial kitchens everywhere. Their latest press release is for the Nala Robotics "Spotless" autonomous robotic dishwasher. Not sure that there's really a business case for this but sure does seem cool! Go to nalarobotics.com to see the video. Vimeo is kind of annoying that it won't embed the thumbnail. https://apnews.com/press-release/pr-newswire/science-business-c4c92b9d7a435bbe2ac41dc25995f1f4 https://nalarobotics.com/

Post 72: PLC+Robot Programming = Automation Art

Have you ever been in an MRI machine? Getting your brain and chest scanned to see what’s broken in you? I have, and quite recently in fact! Surprisingly I had no idea that just a few short weeks after my visit to the ER I would get a case study from the team at Artiminds that shows how interconnected our worlds are. These guys and gals worked on a sweet project at Siemens Healthineers where they took an existing cobot and PLC and made them better. This robotic workcell had the job of screwing in over 200 screws into the stretchers that people ride on when in an MRI machine. I had the pleasure of riding on one of these units and recall the incredible number of screws holding the various guides and parts together. So my personal problems aside how did the team at Artiminds make this system better? They say they “recast” the software which integrated the plc and robot…I say they gutted the system and gave it the brain of an artist! Artiminds built a robot programming suite(RPS) that now solves two issues Siemens had. They can quickly train robot programmers within days AND rapidly teach and deploy robotic arms into production processes. The team at Artiminds built this software platform in 8 months! The coolest part is that Siemens can add almost any manufacturer of robot and still use this common platform to integrate them into workcells! Oh and if you care to know, I was totally fine. https://www.artiminds.com/

Post 71: VERSABUILT ROBOTICS

You have a high mix cnc environment? Still have people waiting around for your machining processes to complete just so they can unload the current part and then load the next blank in? That’s pretty dumb. You can do better! Stop paying humans to do dumb things. We have brains and feelings and ..um well that’s about it. Pay people to solve problems, not robots. That’s why robots are around..to do robot stuff, like those jobs that your company requires to be done OVER and OVER and OVER again. So does what I’m saying resonate in you? Am I whispering deep into your soul the sweet words of wisdom you seek?! Awesome. Call Versabuilt. They know a thing or two about making complex problems (not your emotional problems) simplified. These bandits specialize in robotic tending systems for CNC equipment. Give them a shout and let them know ol’ Tommy sent you. They may give you a discount, or more likely jack up your price! https://youtu.be/3rClo_6vbcY https://www.versabuilt.com/

Post 70: Trouble At RōBEX?

When someone sticks out their hand and says, "Hi, I'm a professional change agent", what do you think of? If you ask me It means there is a major restructuring about to happen and some people will be getting fired. Well RōBEX's owner, private equity group Angeles Equity Partners has added a new member to it's board. But one with a very specific skill set. Restructuring, cost reduction, and company sales. The writing is on the wall for the executive heavy management team. Do you really need a president and CEO for a company that is as small as these guys? They were recently acquired by this new PE group and they're already buying up companies. This looks like they'll grow by acquisition and then be sold off to the highest bidder. My question is...has this company ever been profitable. I'm guessing nope, since they brought on board the guy that's going to help them trim the fat off this hog. Don't believe me? Check out the press release yourself. https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/business-78e30ec435354c2990fef76f5be3bfce

Post 69: Tech of the Day: SLAM, no not Some Lazy Ass Machine

Say you wanted to be able to have your mobile robot create a map while also being able to navigate itself in that map..Bammm you need SLAM! Simultaneous Localization And Mapping. SLAM algorithms allow robotic systems the ability to see the environment just like a human with not only detecting obstacles in a 2D view but also with a sense of depth creating 3D maps. SLAM is used by some of the simplest autonomous devices, like robotic vacuum cleaners and mowers. These devices can sense their environment, know the path they need to follow, locate themselves in the environment, and do their task. To do this most SLAM systems use several cameras and sensors to grab image data and then there is back end software that interprets these images and creates 3D maps based on them. Is SLAM perfect? Not really. The major flaw with SLAM is that since you are constantly mapping the environment you can end up with differences between the records of the same point. Imagine you have a column in your warehouse but every time it gets mapped the dimension changes by 2 inches. This happens with SLAM systems. This issue also causes problems when you create travel paths that should be closed loops. What happens is that the robot will go around the path but may not end up at the right end point, causing the system to think it's not done with it's task. SLAM got us close to autonomous navigation but it'll be great to see the next generation of SLAM like technologies!

Post 68: WTF Is This Nonsense?

Ok, so marketing bros and gals...please explain to me what in the world is the nonsense written in this press release below. The title and picture drew me in. Dang, a robotics company that's making some kind of power assisted roller skates?! Sweet! But then I read further. Umm so why is NASA mentioned? And the rest of the story goes downhill from there. Looks like bad AI generated copy or someone is getting paid to write stuff for Shift Robotics and they're getting paid by word quantity, not whether it makes any sense whatsoever. Even though this article was absolute trash it did open up my curiosity and I checked out the company. I want a pair of these for my next tradeshow!! https://shiftrobotics.io/ https://www.analyticsinsight.net/shift-robotics-plans-to-ship-first-batch-of-moonwalkers-in-2023/

Post 67: SeaProtector1 Reporting For Duty

Call me an environmentalist if you want but I actually do care about the planet. I recycle, most of the time. I try not to be wasteful with food and I certainly don't just toss my trash into rivers. My mind is blown by how so much plastic trash ends up in the oceans. Imagine if we kept polluting the ocean at the rate we are now...the ocean will end up like some gross looking ball pit full of sludge. Gross! Well here comes some reinforcements! SeaProtector1 is armed and ready to take on floating trash. It's such a simple concept but hey sometimes thats all that's needed to be effective. I love how it lifts up the trash it caught and a conveyor belt moves the trash to the end. So brilliantly simple! https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20221211005006/en/

Post 66: AI Is F'n Awesome

I hear AI and I start to get the tingles! I'm such a fanboy. From art to music to coding there seems to be a new AI tool being released daily. Probably not really daily but there's a lot going on in the field. The latest one I heard of is Character AI. Wow, simply WOW. This a an AI tool that allows you to chat with preprogrammed AI characters of your choosing. Want to carry on a conversation about quantum physics with Elon Musk..go for it. Albert Einstein can give you relationship advice. The possibilities are endless. I spent my day talking with Tony Stark about how I can build my newsletter audience! https://beta.character.ai/

Post 65: Tech of the Day: Totes, Yeah Totes!

What's the most basic of essentials in a warehouse or manufacturing facility? You might think it's the forklift, WRONG. Maybe you think it's an ERP system, boooo. So many wrong answers from all of you! Totes, totes are the essential glue holding the universe together! The basics: You put stuff into totes and then you can carry the totes. Pretty simple huh? Yeah I guess if you want to waste your company dollars on trash. When you purchase totes there are 4 key things to note. Application - What are you doing with the totes? Are they going into a clean room or are they going to hold oily parts? Do they need to be conveyable or will they be picked up by a human? The application is important because it will help determine the material the tote is made of as well as other factors including dimensions. Payload capacity - All totes are not created equal. It's really important that you pay attention to this often overlooked detail. I've seen so many totes in facilities and many of them are not being use appropriately. Someone in purchasing thought you could get buy with a cheaper tote, but they don't have to try to carry that flimsy thing around with parts falling out of it. Make sure to get a real world number of how much weight you want to put in a tote. Anything over 40lbs is a bit of an ergonomic issue so keep that in mind. You don't need old Billy Joe filing a workman's comp claim cause you overloaded his totes causing an injury. Dimensions - Have you found a machine that shrinks or enlarges totes? If you have let me know, otherwise make sure to order the right size totes. Do you need to move totes along a conveyor? Then make sure they fit on there. Do you need people to move them? Make sure they're not too big to carry. Want to limit the chance the weight of a tote won't be exceeded? Then make sure you can't physically put more into a tote than the capacity. It's not rocket science but dimensions matter. Material - There are all kinds of totes. Cheap injection molded plastic ones, fiberglass reinforced, steel, corrugated plastic, and I could keep going on and on. If you put oily greasy parts in a corrugated plastic tote...the tote won't last long. Put aluminum parts in a steel tote and you're asking for galvanic corrosion. Material matters and mainly for the longevity of your totes. Totes are not cheap and making sure you order the right ones for the job at hand will ensure that your totes last and do the job you need them to do. If you need totes...just do a quick internet search and you'll find several companies ready to take your money. Before handing them your cash make sure to talk to someone and get feedback on your application. If they don't have someone that knows a thing or two about totes then buy elsewhere!

Post 64: Electric Tractors Are Shocking

John Deere wants to pretend they're the coolest kids on the block with their fancy self driving tractors. But the really cool kids don't have to say they're the coolest. Let me announce the cool kid, CASE IH is awesome! Self driving..yep, they also can do some assisted driving so that the combine and a trailer can sync up for unloading on the go, and the really cool thing? How about an electric tractor?!?!?!?! Yeah maybe finally we'll get all those farm kids to stop "rolling coal" with their big diesel trucks and they can start adopting electric trucks as their go to. If CASE has come up with an electric tractor then what in the world is taking so long for the electric tractor trailers (aka big rigs aka semis). the power consumption of a tractor must be massive! I can't wait for someone to transplant one of these power systems into a MONSTER TRUCK! What a redneck environmentalist's mash up! https://media.cnhindustrial.com/NORTH-AMERICA/Gallery/video/the-autonomous-solution-is-the-first-proof-point-in-the-joint-collaboration-between-case-ih-and-rave/a/019b8578-199e-476e-96b8-0a41cef98fae?categorySeoName=CASE-IH

Post 63: Genius Or Gimmick

Have you heard of Inuitive? How about a M4.5S? Don't ring a bell? That makes at least two of us. Inuitive, which seems to be a take on the word intuitive or maybe it was just a misspelling, is a company that sells ROCs. Not those kind of rocks. Robot On Chip. These guys claim to have created the holy grail of AGV and AMR sensor modules that can provide human like sensing capabilities to your mobile robotic platform. Why do I question the legitimacy of this tech, of this company? Check out their video. A fake "breaking news" kinda video that's really cheesy. Like ooozing with warm week old ricotta or if you're the dairy free sort maybe it's like that kind of cheese that doesn't melt. https://youtu.be/Spxpj_8214M

Post 62: My Robot Girlfriend Is A Stripper

Oh wow! So no, I did not search the keywords robot and stripper and sex. Absolutely not. Or did I? I'll let you believe what you'd like but either way all I can say is wow. I found myself following the rabbit down a really strange path and it started with this TikTok video of a Japanese pole dancing robot. So strange! I get us humans are pretty primal but is this how we're going to solve our depending on the sex business? Putting in some robots? After finding this first video I thought, hmm, I wonder if there's more of these types of robots. And yes, yes there is. All kinds. Now that I've stoked your curiosity...You're Welcome and good luck unseeing what you'll find.

Post 61: Come and Get Your Dinner

Have you every asked someone to pay for something and they just say no. You know how that feels, that uncomfortable moment, those tears welling up, repressed childhood memories coming to the surface. But then you just say OK and give them their stuff. Well that's kind of how it went with the guys at Cartken. Cartken is shaping up to be a direct competitor to Starship Technologies. They make these tiny little wheeled robots that deliver your coffee, lunch, and probably anything else you want delivered while you're on a college campus. I bet if these start delivering alcohol and cannabis a lot of them will go missing so maybe don't get into that business. I'm a sucker for an underdog story so let's see how this plays out!

Post 60: Tech of the Day: CNC Programming

Yep, I know how to write CNC code. Super easy if you know what you're doing. In college we actually started with NC code and then moved up to CNC. What the heck do these acronyms stand for you ask. NC = Numerical Control, CNC = Computer Numerical Control. This is the code fed into a mill, lathe, or other machining center/equipment that tells it what to do. The main difference is that NC is the old fashioned way of programming one of these machines. Kind of like using a scantron. CNC is how most machines are programmed nowadays and basically it's just a flat file like a text file that has lines of instructions. G-Code is the language that's used to write CNC code. It's super simple with the complexities being in the details. So you have some like G01 X32 Y15 Z-1.000 F400. The G is the command type, then you have your coordinates to travel to, and F would be the Feed..how fast the machine moves to get there. I've had to write this code and go run it on a machine. It's tedious and you have to understand speeds and feeds and how they relate to the cutting tool you're using, etc. But alas! Technology saves the day. There is CAM (computer aided manufacturing) software that can now take your 3D CAD model and it can create the code for you. Be careful though..you will still want to verify the code just in case there's an error!