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“We provide answers to

“We provide answers to the challenges of our times” AUTOMATED GUIDED VEHICLE SYSTEMS In order for Industry 4.0 to become reality, the AGV also needs to be “rethought”. In this context, the opinions of Niels Jul Jacobsen, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Mobile Industrial Robots, in conversation with the editor will make you sit up and take notice. Automated guided vehicle systems are currently experiencing a renaissance. What do you think is the reason for this? The market demands on manufacturing companies have increased rapidly in recent years. The flexibility of production technologies is the key to being able to continue operating profitably. Automated guided vehicle systems, in particular mobile robots such as those we develop and produce, take precise account of this requirement. Over the past ten years, mobile technologies have come a long way. Initially, their use was associated with high levels of investment and costly planning. Many classic AGV systems were hardly flexible at all with respect to their navigation technologies. Changes in the material flow layout led to high additional costs. Mobile robotics have led to a completely new starting point. Not only are our robots affordable, but they are also easy to implement and can be adapted to new tasks at any time. Is the market potential for AGV systems so great that the new manufacturers, who have recently emerged on the market, will survive in the long term? It is my opinion that the companies that survive and determine the direction of the market will be those that best understand the technology of autonomous mobile robots and also know how to use it for market-relevant solutions. Whether a manufacturer has only recently entered the market or has been around for a long time plays no part in this. However, it is usually the case that it is primarily the younger competitors who profit from changes in the market. Companies with a long tradition and development history generally find it more difficult to react flexibly to changes in the market, which can sometimes occur rapidly. We at Mobile Industrial Robots have an advantageous starting point here: Our company is still relatively young, but we were one of the first manufacturers to launch mobile robots on the market. We resolutely exploit this advantage. The flexibility of our products and our expertise allow us to react quickly to the requirements of operators and to market needs. You mentioned that your company is also one of the comparatively new players on the market. What was your initial vision when you founded Mobile Industrial Robots in 2013? Our vision is to bring automation into a sector where it was previously not viable. Specifically, this means that we enable our customers to automate almost any type of internal transport task, thereby freeing up the resources of their employees to undertake other tasks within the company. This vision was born in the autumn of 2011: I returned from a conference in Boston that dealt with the question of how to use robots commercially. During the conference, I realised that the opportunities presented by this new technology are not yet being fully exploited. It was this moment that gave birth to the idea for Mobile Industrial Robots. Over the subsequent two years, we worked consistently on its implementation and, in 2013, our first robot, the MiR100, was ready for the market. Alongside a business idea in the AGV sector, there are also products and equipment. What options do you offer the potential operator? In principle, our mobile robots are automated solutions for the internal transport of goods from A to B. We currently offer two model options: The previously mentioned MiR100 and the MiR200, which are named according to their load capacity in kilograms. An extensive portfolio of additional modules is available for the two mobile helpers. We ourselves market the MiRHook, a transport and towing system for carts. Other additional modules In the AGV segment, the companies that survive and determine the direction of the market will be those that best understand the technology of autonomous mobile robots and know how use it for market-relevant solutions Niels Jul Jacobsen, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Mobile Industrial Robots such as conveyor belts or lifting devices are available via our sales partners. We are following an open approach with regard to areas of application. At the end of the day, the operator is offered a wide variety of possible applications, from which they can choose the appropriate configuration. With its headquarters in Odense / Denmark, how is your company positioned in terms of sales and after sales? From the outset, we have worked hard to establish a broad network of sales partners in conjunction with whom we are able to advise and support our end customers on site. In Germany, we now have twelve partners who are familiar with the various industries. This is important because we are offering a comparatively new product and must therefore provide intensive consultations. With their expertise and experience, our partners make an important contribution to ensuring that users understand the versatile applications of the MiR robot. They demonstrate to our customers which improvements are possible in the field of intralogistics and make them aware of the potential offered by this technology. WORLD OF INDUSTRIES – INTRALOGISTICS & DISTRIBUTION 5/2017

In Production and Logistics, processes have to be adapted more and more quickly to match changing requirements. This requires flexible material flow solutions. How can you fulfil this requirement with your systems? Actually, flexibility in particular is one of the core challenges of our time. And that’s precisely where we come in at Mobile Industrial Robots. Due to the simple programming and intuitive operation via any mobile terminal, users can easily adapt our vehicles to new production or material flow layouts at any time. And thanks to a variety of sensors and camera systems, the mobile helpers are able to work and operate autonomously and with absolute safety alongside the human employees in an unknown and dynamic environment. In your view, what are the technological trends in the autonomous vehicles sector? One of the main trends is certainly the close interlinking of the work of man and machine. Here, the recent past has shown that, from one generation to the next, robots gain a better understanding of how their human counterparts work and become more adaptive in this respect. We are also researching and working on this topic at MiR: The more the robot understands and experiences the paths and transport routes of people and vehicles in a factory or logistics centre, the better it can interact with them. What do you think will be the major challenges faced by our intralogistics industry in the future? You have already mentioned it in one of your questions in this conversation and I entirely agree with you: The greatest challenge is the constantly increasing need for flexibility. One of the crucial questions of intralogistics is therefore: How is it possible to further optimize production and delivery structures in a world where customer needs can change almost instantly? We have succeeded in providing the system operators with an absolutely vital component for ensuring the all-encompassing flexibility of their structures. The market response speaks for itself. Photo: MiR The questions were asked by Winfried Bauer, Editor-in-chief of World of Industries – Intralogistics & Distribution About MiR Mobile Industrial Robots has its headquarters in Odense, Denmark, where the company was founded in 2013 by experienced representatives of the Danish robotics industry. MiR develops and sells mobile robots for the internal transport of goods in industry and the healthcare sector. Within just a short time, this pioneer in mobile robotics has established a global sales network with dealers in more than 35 countries. Since the company’s foundation, it has recorded steep growth, increasing by 500 percent from 2015 to 2016 alone. The company has recently established branch offices in Shanghai and New York. Here you see our fastest stacker crane in action We call it “dynamic warehousing“. DAMBACH Lagersysteme GmbH & Co. KG, Hardrain 1, D-76476 Bischweier, Germany Phone +49 (0) 72 22 9660-0, Dambach-Englisch.indd 160927_RBG_CH_185x130.indd 1 1 27.09.2016 26.09.16 15:35:41 20:43 WORLD OF INDUSTRIES – INTRALOGISTICS & DISTRIBUTION 5/2017


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