Rudi Lueg is managing director of Exotec North America. French-based Exotec is an international supplier of robotic storage and fulfillment systems utilizing a fleet of robots that can move in three dimensions. Lueg has three decades of experience in the supply chain industry, including leadership positions at Knapp, Fortna, and SDI. He holds a Master of Science degree in information technology and industrial engineering from Georg Simon Ohm University in Nuremberg, Germany. He recently spoke with DC Velocity Group Editorial Director David Maloney about current trends in robotic design.
A: The pandemic continues to put pressure on supply chains. Some of these disruptions could historically have been [addressed] by retailers scaling up their operations by hiring seasonal workers to accommodate busy peak seasons. That said, the solution of “just-add-more-workers” has not been feasible for a lot of companies given the labor shortages.
A: At the end of the day, our customers are looking to be more efficient. We are seeing brands spanning the e-commerce, grocery, retail, manufacturing, and third-party logistics sectors looking to improve their operations and profitably navigate rapid shifts in business models and customer expectations.
A: Our customers see that we’re helping with efficiency. Robotic systems drastically improve working conditions for human operators by reducing highly repetitive, physically intensive tasks such as excessive walking, lifting, and bending.
A: It’s important that systems offer reliable, scalable, and precise robotics that enable high-volume fulfillment and returns processing. This helps eliminate repetitive, physically intensive tasks and significantly improve warehouse efficiency and economics. For example, customers can deploy our Skypod system [a retail order picking solution] in a matter of months and easily expand their systems without interrupting production.
A: When designing a system, it’s important to remain flexible and adaptable to the customer’s needs. At Exotec, we believe that systems should use a modular design that consists of robots that can be assigned new tasks; bins that are identified and registered in a controller database that offers surgical precision; and racks that adapt to the architecture of the customer’s warehouse. This kind of flexibility and adaptability is critical when working with customers.