InPerson interview: Sean Wallingford of Swisslog Americas

InPerson interview: Sean Wallingford of Swisslog Americas



Sean Wallingford is president and CEO of Swisslog Americas, the place he’s answerable for development alternatives and lengthening the corporate’s market place within the area. Wallingford was beforehand the president of warehouse options at Vanderlande Industries for North America. He additionally spent practically 10 years at Honeywell Intelligrated, serving in numerous roles, together with vp of software program product administration.

Q: How would you describe the present state of the fabric dealing with market?

A: Provide chain disruptions, altering client behaviors, and labor proceed to current challenges, though to not the extent of the final couple of years. As well as, the provision chain is altering, with rising volumes for last-mile supply and sooner order achievement instances creating the necessity to absolutely reshape achievement methods to confront these modifications. That is particularly evident within the e-grocery phase, the place there’s a right away want to satisfy rising client expectations for fast, quick access to groceries and meals objects.

For this reason there’s an elevated demand for space-efficient, easy-to-operate, and scalable automation applied sciences and options. Corporations are exploring automation options and search to harness digital know-how and knowledge to extend provide chain visibility, thereby bettering the shopper expertise and enterprise efficiency. They’re utilizing each historic and real-time (or close to real-time) knowledge to proactively anticipate modifications in demand and utilizing automation to reply.

Q: You had been simply named president and CEO at Swisslog Americas. What do you hope to perform throughout your tenure?

A: First, I wish to guarantee Swisslog continues to assist our clients with the superior automation options and software program they want, whereas additionally setting us on a path of robust and sustainable development. Key to that is bringing renewed focus and recent perception on capturing extra development alternatives within the Americas and additional extending the corporate’s market place within the area.

We see essentially the most potential for this development and buyer worth in three principal areas, which we are going to proceed strengthen. First is our built-in options, together with robot-based purposes like our ACPaQ mixed-case palletizer. Second is standardized AS/RS purposes, together with our CarryPick order selecting answer and AutoStore. Third is clever software program, reminiscent of our SynQ administration software program. Throughout all of our options, SynQ is a key differentiator for Swisslog available in the market.

Q: How has the adoption of autonomous cellular robots and articulated-arm robots modified distribution operations?

A: As firms proceed to cope with labor shortages, automated warehouse options have offered a method for a lot of of them to take care of productiveness and effectivity ranges whereas coping with a diminished labor power. Plenty of firms are additionally utilizing automation know-how as a solution to entice potential staff who’re in search of alternatives to work with know-how and wish to be part of a contemporary, enhanced work expertise.

Automated robotic options assist market development and supply larger management and visibility of the provision chain. As well as, automated options decrease operational prices and improve the velocity and effectivity of distribution networks. Synthetic intelligence (AI) can also be making the warehouse of the longer term extra dynamic, extra agile, and extra responsive. As an illustration, AI permits robotics to self-learn from expertise, which signifies that robotic selecting potential improves over time with enhanced selecting methods for brand new merchandise.

Q: Swisslog unveiled its ACPaQ robotic system on the ProMat present in March. This know-how is new to North America. What benefits does it supply?

A: Creating custom-made blended pallets for particular person shops from single-SKU (stock-keeping unit) pallets is among the most essential and difficult areas of profitable retail warehouse operations. Swisslog’s ACPaQ automated mixed-case palletizer meets the rising calls for of this utility, fulfilling the duty in an environment friendly and economical method.

It’s a scalable, robotic, and data-driven palletizing answer for absolutely automated order selecting of mixed-case pallets that may ship elevated throughput as much as 1,000 items per hour—two to 3 instances greater than conventional options. It’s designed to develop as an organization’s enterprise grows, configurable utilizing modules, and scalable for mid-sized and enormous distribution facilities transport as much as 500,000 circumstances per day.

Q: A lot of your background is in software program technique and product administration. In your view, what software program developments can have the largest impression on the business?

A: One of many developments is the expansion of linked and clever methods. As options turn into extra standardized, it turns into simpler to leverage knowledge (e.g., edge knowledge, sensor knowledge, product knowledge, operational knowledge) to make extra insightful and efficient operational selections. This standardization is particularly essential for AI-enabled options. Maturity in answer design and software program platforms will allow firms to leverage these applied sciences in addition to info that has historically been extra extensively used exterior of our business.

One other development is the productization of software program platforms from integrators like Swisslog. This can deliver a degree of standardization to software program that might be extra helpful than custom-made software program, particularly in the long run. This can embrace elevated flexibility and configurability, in addition to a framework for continued evolution.

Q: Many suppliers and their clients have had issue getting components for his or her automated methods over the previous two years. Are you seeing this constraint starting to ease?

A: Sure, we’re beginning to see some aid. Nonetheless, it’s presently not occurring persistently throughout the business or throughout all suppliers. There are nonetheless commodity disruptions and different macro disruptions which are creating challenges for suppliers and their clients. It’s essential to do not forget that we’re within the midst of a large shift in provide chains that has been partly pushed by the provision chain disruptions of the final couple of years. Plenty of firms are re-evaluating their provide chain networks, with some even taking steps to nearshore and/or reshore sure operations. These kind of actions will additional impression the move of provides and merchandise within the brief time period. 

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