Power Talks Ep. 5: The Automation Spectrum, from Full Autonomy to Operator-Assist Automation

Resonant Link
May 13, 2024

In episode 5 of our Power Talks interview series, Joe Koch, Sales Manager of Emerging Technology at Yale Corporation, and Kyle Smart, Sales Manager of Robotics and Automation at Yale Corporation, talk to host Kevin Lawton of The New Warehouse about how logistics leaders are using automation to maximize productivity, efficiency and safety. Key to their approach, they say, is to view industrial automation as a spectrum, from fully autonomous vehicles and workflows to partial automation like operator-assist automation.

In this interview, Smart and Koch share strategies for assessing the level of automation needed for your application, balancing autonomy and human intelligence, and examples of how leaders build operator confidence and effectiveness with semi-autonomous solutions.

This episode of the Power Talks interview series was filmed live from Resonant Link's booth at MODEX 2024. Subscribe to receive email updates when new videos are released. You'll get actionable insights from logistics and warehouse technology leaders on how to solve labor, equipment, space, and other logistics challenges.

Click play to listen to Koch and Smart’s interview or continue reading to get the interview highlights.

Industrial automation provides leaders powerful tools to optimize operational workflows, address repetitive tasks, improve safety, and mitigate labor challenges. It’s no surprise that 85% of supply chain professionals say they are planning to deploy automation within the next twelve months. 

Amidst the buzz of fully autonomous robotics, savvy leaders understood that there's more than one path to automation success. The optimal automation solution for your operation depends on the unique application and business objectives.

Balancing Autonomy and Human Intelligence

From the MODEX show floor, Koch and Smart emphasized the importance of evaluating tasks, load qualities, and operational requirements when assessing the level of automation needed. While certain monotonous tasks are ideal for full automation, the human touch is crucial for problem-solving and adaptability in complex environments. The most successful leaders use automation to give skilled operators more time to focus on high-value work.

Building Confidence with Automated Functions

Automation technology isn’t just ideal for replacing monotonous tasks, it’s also a key enabler of your team’s potential. Semi-autonomous systems, like Yale Reliant, give operators the tools and information they need to perform their jobs more safely, productivity, and efficiently. According to Koch, operators retain control of the vehicle with Yale Reliant, but performance is limited in challenging situations. These automated functions give operators, especially those with less experience, more confidence to navigate these challenges. 

Scaling Automation to Meet Business Needs

Prioritization is the key for teams who are making the most of automation. Smart recommends starting with the horizontal applications that will deliver the most value to the business first rather than trying to do too much at once. This approach allows teams to learn about and embrace the technology before scaling automation to more areas of the business.

Ready For More?

To hear more insights and recommendations from Koch and Smart, watch the full interview.

Check out our whitepaper, Big Little Things: How Warehouses of All Sizes Can Automate Operations, to learn about common challenges warehouse operators face and how to overcome them with automation. 

And if you missed Power Talks Episode 4 with Mike Myers from Third Wave Automation, watch the replay. You’ll learn about how to multiply your team’s potential and realize better-than-ever productivity with shared autonomy.

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