Best Practices for Launching a Robotics Program
March 24, 2022
As the addition of robots in commercial settings — retail chains, school districts, warehousing businesses, etc. — becomes the new industry standard, savvy organizations are jumping on board. But the decision to invest in automation technology is only the first step.
In order to ensure that your robotics program is implemented successfully, you have to start from the top-down, assigning leadership and setting guidelines with the end goal of creating a more productive workforce by giving your existing employees the most intelligent robotics tools that drive greater operational efficiencies. While robotic applications, like BrainOS®-powered floor cleaning and Inventory Scan robots, are quick and easy to get going, training and support are critical to leveraging robotic systems as a long-term, sustainable solution to your current operational challenges. Below, we outline three best practices for making the most of your robotics investment.
1. Define Program Leadership
A successful robotics program does not start at the site level but at the leadership level, including corporate executives, school administrations, etc. Leadership must be committed to the program and understand what it takes to make robotic automation technology work — from implementation and skill training to ongoing technical support. Ultimately, a team or individual within the centralized operation should be responsible for leading the overall program in order to ensure consistent deployment and robot usage across all locations. If you leave site personnel to their own devices when it comes to autonomous mobile robot training, busy managers and supervisors may fall short of successful implementation, causing the robots’ intelligent systems to be underutilized and reduce ROI.
While Brain Corp and our manufacturers assist with skill deployment and training and provide informative materials about the technology’s intelligent systems, it’s crucial for internal support to set up the program based on its organization’s specific needs. Program leaders take on the responsibilities of educating site management, training employees and making sure that locations are set up for optimal robotic performance. This opens the door for professional development opportunities, as existing associates and custodial teams can easily become robot operators and reallocate their hours to higher-value tasks.
Within sites, you should set a similar structure in terms of leadership. Whether you designate a robot expert, custodial supervisor or store manager to take on this role, it is critical that this leader is educated on the ins and outs of their robots’ operating systems and functions. This person can also serve as the go-to support for immediate questions from employees, as well as the liaison between the site and the organization’s stakeholders.
2. Set Expectations and Hold People Accountable
Once you establish these program leadership roles, those responsible must then set expectations for employees who will be operating the autonomous robots. By creating a program description and set-up guide with a checklist, locations can confidently follow every step in maximizing robotic performance. In addition, it’s important to clarify who should be operating the robots and how often they should be run. While employees are expected to do their jobs, at the end of the day, it’s up to management to ensure that goals are clear, tasks are identified and that employees have a clear path to success.
Accountability is also key. Because robot operating systems like BrainOS® provide real-time usage metrics and data, it’s easy to see whether or not employees are operating autonomous mobile robots as frequently as they should be. When employees aren’t keeping up with their robotic tasks, the assigned program leader within a site must find out why this is the case. Oftentimes, issues are as simple to troubleshoot as a quick refresher on training, but if no one is held accountable, this can impact your facilities cleanliness and/or the management of inventory.
3. Leverage Existing Robot Data and Reporting to Optimize Operations
The third best practice to keep in mind when implementing a successful robotics program is to regularly review the data and reporting BrainOS®-powered robots deliver in order to identify opportunities to drive greater operational efficiencies. Through the BrainOS® artificial intelligence (AI) software platform, robot operators and their supervisors can access detailed data and performance metrics via our cloud-based portal, the BrainOS® Mobile app and regular email reporting.
For BrainOS®-powered floor cleaning robots, these metrics include cleaning coverage, routes run, percentage of autonomous v. manual usage, visual heat maps and more. With this data, everything is explicitly documented, enabling managers and supervisors to easily identify operational flaws and opportunities to improve cleaning efficiencies. For example, monitoring usage helps verify robotic cleaning tasks are completed and which hours of the day allow for optimal robot operation — helping managers and supervisors maximize cleaning output. Access to route labels and cleaning plans help ensure the full floor space is getting covered and at the desired frequency.
BrainOS®-powered Inventory Scan robots, a go-to solution for modern retailers, report key detail on in-store inventory, including verification of product availability, pricing accuracy, planogram compliance, stock levels and product localization. Consistently reviewing and resolving critical actions flagged during scanning help drive more effective and efficient inventory decisions that have a direct impact on your sales and customer experience.
By tracking data and performance metrics, organizations will see their robotics program generate a faster ROI and increase the productivity of existing employees by freeing up their time for other critical tasks. Additionally, you can use performance data from sites that have already implemented robotic systems to assist with setting up in new locations, such as checking which layouts allow for the easiest navigation. This streamlines the deployment process and saves even more money down the road.
These three best practices are key for launching a successful robotics program that streamlines operations through automated systems. By starting at the corporate level and ensuring that leadership is prepared to set expectations and maintain accountability, you can ensure you get the most out of your investment in BrainOS®-powered autonomous robots.
Looking for additional support as you launch your robotics program? Contact us to speak with a solutions expert or robotics technician.