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ProMat C-Suite Interview with Dave Szczepanski: The field of robotics comes to life

ProMat 2023 was a virtual playground for all things related to warehouse and fulfillment robotics.

Dave Szczepanski, President, SICK, Inc.

What is your number one takeaway from Promat 2023?

It was great to see the field of robotics come to life and be embraced by the logistics industry. Witnessing the proliferation of robotics as a key component in the latest automation solutions has been exciting to watch over the years. This development is something SICK is prepared to help customers with through our numerous sensor solutions for robotics automation solutions – from sensors to software.

In addition to that takeaway, there was a growing increase in the implementation of robotics in conveyance and storage solutions. And, of course, we can’t forget about the developing interest in AI as a viable complement to robot-based and other material handling solutions. 

What are the three key market trends from your perspective?

  1. Adoption of new material handling modes whether by enhancing traditional means (i.e., conveyors) or adapting new means (i.e., hybrid conveyance, mobile automation and robotic platforms).
  2. The need for higher throughput while still allowing for flexibility in design, and a remaining focus on safety. Users are seeking rapid deployment of automation without disruption to ongoing operations. Quick service turnaround and turnkey solutions with reliable support, product delivery and maintenance capabilities minimize downtime and optimize throughput.
  3. Increased need for flexibility within last-mile delivery. This could mean utilizing automation and backup stores, or it could mean smaller buildings, based on location (e.g., New York City versus the suburbs). That delivery difference presents a big challenge.

How is SICK responding to these market trends?

We continue to invest in customer-centric solutions and partnerships that provide world-class value. Sensor intelligence continues to be at the heart of automation functionality because the sensor is at the base of data collection. More importantly, the data itself must be usable and actionable.

SICK has taken steps to ensure added features and functionality at the sensor level but is also leveraging critical data for supply chain visibility and condition monitoring for safe and efficient operations. SICK is at the forefront of providing sensor-based solutions that ensure safe, efficient deployment of OEM systems designed to bring automation into traditionally manual or low automation operations. This industry has come a long way, and we’re excited to be a part of it.

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