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Big Picture: The state of automation

More companies are looking to materials handling automation to improve processes and lower operating costs. Modern asked 10 leading systems integrators what the future of automation might look like.

Conveyor and sortation systems are using software and controls to manage the flow of goods while distributing work in a way that eliminates bottlenecks.

By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
May 01, 2012

Wynright: Integrating humans and automation
The appetite for automation in North America is game changing, says Kevin Ambrose, CEO of Wynright.

While there is talk in the industry about lights-out automation­—systems that complete processes entirely with automated materials handling equipment and software—Ambrose believes the next frontier is creating an environment where automated materials handling, robotics technology and humans work hand-in-hand. He looks to Apple for the model.

“There is no dispute that Steve Jobs mastered the confluence of technology and humanity,” says Ambrose. “We believe that the software and the interfaces associated with materials handling systems need to be as simple and intuitive as an iPod.”

In addition to investments in software and robotics, Ambrose has recruited talent from industries outside of materials handling that can bring a different perspective to the products and solutions Wynright is developing. “We want to take that mandate for simple and intuitive and apply it to the solutions we’re putting in distribution centers,” he says. “We want an environment where people feel comfortable working side by side with automation and robotics rather than have the materials handling equipment off in its own separate area.”

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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