VersaBox is a Smart Robotics company. The company brings together talents of new generation of innovators, software designers and engineers to develop world class, advanced technology solutions for the transforming global manufacturing and logistics.
Interview with Weronika Zelazna, Export Manager & Jakub Michalski, Chief of Business Development, Board Member at VersaBox.
Easy Engineering: A brief description of the company and its activities.
Weronika Zelazna & Jakub Michalski: VersaBox is the vendor of smart intralogistics platform based on AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots).
Our mission is to help customers, modern manufacturing, and logistic organizations, realize the promises of autonomous intralogistics operations. Initially focused on designing and building advanced robotic solutions for large manufacturing clients, the company embraced the opportunity of early AMR market, and with support from seed funds, and angel investors started the development of autonomous intralogistics platform – AUTONOMY@WORK.
After successful implementation with customers such as Faurecia, Autoliv or Mercedes, and completing fundraising with VC investors the company started to grow its customer base in Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Romania, and continued sharpening its competitive edge in product development. With a market proven product portfolio and a team of 50 specialists in areas such as software development, hardware design, electronics, deployment, customer support, and business development, VersaBox has built a strong foundation for international success.
E.E: What are the main areas of activity of the company?
W.Z & J.M: VersaBox implements its autonomous intralogistics platform in modern manufacturing organizations who are at the forefront of adopting Industry 4.0/5.0 innovations and concepts. The key market served by VersaBox is automotive T2 (component and system manufacturers). Automotive companies take advantage of flexible, open design of VersaBox software and hardware, to adapt to different payload types (pallets, racks, dollies, specific large items such as tyres etc). Flexibility makes VERSABOTs suitable for many discreet manufacturing or warehouse intralogistics operations, as diverse as food & beverage, furniture, and decorations, cast metal products, packaging etc. VersaBox is supported by a growing network of partners who distribute, implement, and integrate VersaBox software and devices with customer IT/OT environment, using our documented software API and modular hardware architecture.
E.E: What’s the news about new products?
W.Z & J.M: VersaBox delivers robust AMR devices, equipped with best-in-class autonomous navigation and smart material handling tools. VersaBox fleet of hardware platforms has been recently extended with autonomous forklift (FS 16) and a small footprint AMR – VB250.
The vision driving VersaBox product development extends much farther. Our aim is to provide customers with the completed toolset to implement scalable, high performance autonomous intralogistics operations. The AUTONOMY@WORK features rapid design, simulation, implementation, and monitoring of operations, executed by AMR devices. VersaBox is the only vendor providing predictable fleet performance thanks to its unique autonomous operation simulator (Virtual Factory). By the end of 2023 customers will be able to use process optimizers in real-time and in design-time, and new version of analytical dashboard. The dashboard will offer Process Intelligence features, and KPIs supporting Lean 4.0-style process improvement.
E.E: What are the ranges of products?
W.Z & J.M: AUTONOMY@WORK is an open, integrated system covering the full autonomous intralogistics process lifecycle: design, execution, monitoring, and control. The platform turns a fleet of VERSABOTs into smart digital workforce. Thanks to open API it can execute work orders directly from WMS/MES system.
Standard hardware portfolio includes:
VB500 – AMR platform robot that can handle a load of 500 kg (700 kg with a trolley),
VB1500 – AMR platform robot that can handle up to 1500 kg,
VB250 – AMR small platform robot that handles 250 kg (new, available EoY 2023),
FS16 – autonomous forklift (new, available EoY 2023),
Smart tools for payload handling and accessories (e.g., automatic charging stations).
E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?
W.Z & J.M: The market growth is estimated at more than 40%. The buyers represent early adopters and innovators as well as early majority – more conservative organizations, which indicates that the AMR market is already beyond the proof-of-concept stage.
E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?
W.Z & J.M: AMR is still evolving as a technology and so is the concept of its application. Typical use cases such for manufacturing include line replenishment from component supermarket, just in time transport between manufacturing process steps, or finished goods storage. Warehouse operations use cases are often related to the inbound or outbound flows to/from central automated storage and retrieval system. All these use cases have been successfully proven in current implementations and proof of concept projects.
New trends include advanced use cases, scaling the intralogistics operations, increasing the level of autonomy, lean 4.0.
Advanced use cases require sophisticated navigation and process capabilities. Good examples are dock operations in distribution centers, such as autonomous loading and unloading of trucks, and managing block storage areas. These new use cases are currently being developed and tested by many vendors – including VersaBox.
Scaling is related to the rollouts of early (successful) implementations of AMRs. In large facilities these can lead to dozens or even hundreds of autonomous devices, sometimes delivered by different vendors, executing interrelated intralogistics operations, and collaborating with other shop floor automation systems (e.g., security, automatic shelves, automatic doors etc.).
The proliferation of autonomous devices means that their actual level of autonomy (e.g., percentage of tasks which do not require intervention of human operator to complete) has be as close to 100% as possible. Also, it means that the interoperability of devices in operations is becoming an issue, hence the automotive industry endorsement of VDA5050 standard. VersaBox has been showcasing its VDA5050 integration on an event organized by MHP.
Lean 4.0 is the general trend of using advanced automation, big data, and advanced analytics (including simulations – digital twins) as tools supporting continuous process improvement and lean manufacturing. Autonomous operations require far less human involvement in process execution but open new opportunities for human insights and creativity in process management. These opportunities are opened by tools providing data for evidence based management and enabling experimental (what-if) approach to process improvement.
E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?
W.Z & J.M: AUTONOMY@WORK – digital platform for scalable, autonomous intralogistics based on AMR devices.
VIRTUAL FACTORY – a unique intralogistics process simulator, component of the AUTONOMY@WORK platform enabling rapid experimentation and predictable process performance of the implemented AMR based processes.
Automatic Truck loading: AMRs can be utilized in the automatic loading of trucks, streamlining the process, and reducing manual labor. In this scenario, AMRs deliver goods to a designated loading area where a specialized batch loading system is installed. The conveyor system automatically transfers the goods from the AMRs to the truck bed, optimizing loading efficiency and eliminating the need for manual handling. This automated truck loading process improves overall throughput and reduces loading time, resulting in increased operational efficiency.
E.E: What estimations do you have for 2023?
W.Z & J.M: Overall, our estimations for 2023 focus on expanding our business through partner collaborations, developing new capabilities of our software and hardware, and adapting to market needs. We are committed to providing cutting-edge technology and excellent service to our customers as we strive to be a leader in the field of autonomous intralogistics.
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