Seegrid Corp., an autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) development company, introduced Tuesday its Palion Tow Tractor Series 8, an upgraded version of its automated tow tractor to help customers increase productivity and safety within manufacturing, warehousing and distribution.
The company, which closed a $52 million growth equity investment in September, has been focused on expanding its suite of AMRs this past year, including the premiere of its first autonomous lift truck, Palion Lift AMR, and the recent upgrade of its Palion Pallet Truck.
In an interview with FreightWaves, Jeff Christensen, the vice president of product at Seegrid, explained the importance of AMR technology to the modern-day business and how its Palion series of AMRs is empowering customers.
“I fundamentally believe in the societal benefits of technology and when technology is thoughtfully applied, [it] makes society better,” Christensen said. “I see those same benefits from automation within material handling. [Automation] certainly makes the workplace safer but it also makes companies more economically viable, which I think is good at a societal level.
“We want companies to be economically strong and in order to do that, they have to have operations that run well so they can be efficient and profitable and all of those good things. Part of that process is to put resources like AMRs in the places where we can get the most leverage from them,” he said.
Seegrid’s newest Tow Tractor helps in a specific niche of manufacturing and warehousing, with its ability to carry up to 10,000 pounds while being able to understand an extended frame of view to better comprehend its surroundings.
Christensen explained how these capabilities, particularly the automation of moving heavier goods, is a product that customers rely on for safety standards.
“Safety is our No. 1 issue, no question about it. Fortunately robots do in fact drive more safely and more predictably than humans do so we can achieve and fulfill that promise,” he said. “We have two metrics that we care about — the number of miles driven autonomously at production sites and the number of personnel safety incidents that have been associated with that. Right now we’re a little over 5 million miles with zero personnel safety incidents and we take both of those metrics very, very seriously.”
Christensen also noted an interesting trend within deploying automation among Seegrid’s customers. Historically automation has been seen as a way to achieve operational reliability and predictability and now businesses want automation within their facilities to achieve rapid change in case of product changes or changes in demand.
“Businesses now require a high level of flexibility and adaptability,” he explained. “The golden convergence of AMRs is that the navigation is reliable enough for production environments to get that high level of predictability. AMRs are sensing the environment in real time and can adapt at a moment’s notice.”
Seegrid wants to achieve that same flexibility and adaptability within its own four walls and has recently invested in its own research and development group, Blue Labs, to continue to accelerate innovation and identify new technologies with the AMR space.
“Technology is changing so rapidly and as a technologist, that’s really exciting,” he said. “The reason that we are forming and emphasizing Blue Labs is to lean into that. We want to have a place where we can do experiments that might not work all the time because if all we’re doing is developing things that we know will work, then we’re not striving to be great in the future.”