Introducing the Symbotic Platform – a New Breed in Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS)

When you think of Steve Jobs and Apple Computer, they are not necessarily innovators of new technology – they leverage existing technology like the cell phone and tablet and make it more powerful, easier to use and more accessible to the masses. Just like Apple, Symbotic has taken a similar approach with conventional AS/RS (Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems) and developed a more ‘user-friendly’ solution that is smarter, faster and simpler using mobile autonomous robots – or ‘rovers’ as we like to call them.

Similar to Kiva Systems, our rovers can roam freely in a quick and coordinated fashion but that is where the similarities end. The Matrix Rover is contained within a configurable and dense storage structure that allows more product to be processed feeding many different types of fulfillment. Compared to conventional automation that is mechanically complex, fixed in size and shape, and limited to just storage and retrieval of product, both Kiva and MatrixSelect can be categorized into a new breed of AS/RS.

Robotics as a Positive Transformational Force

We’re fortunate to be part of a geographically concentrated cluster of robotics innovation here in the greater Boston area. In a recent edition of the Boston Globe, Scott Kirsner previewed the automation of another local robotic company called Rethink Robotics  using “co-robots,” or collaborative robots which works alongside a human.

Robotics is in the early stages of transforming and improving productivity in many different industries and there is significance in this trend as it relates to education, jobs and safety. At Symbotic, we are committed to investing in robotics technology to foster innovation which will help to maintain the U.S. as an economic force.

Just recently, the International Federation of Robotics recently commissioned a report on how robots create jobs.  The findings report that, “One million industrial robots currently in operation have been directly responsible for the creation of close to three million jobs… A growth in robot use over the next five years will result in the creation of one million high quality jobs around the world.”

The report’s author, Peter Gorle, highlighted three critical areas of growth in robotic deployment where:

  • Robots carry out work in areas that would be unsafe for humans.
  • Robots carry out work that would not be economically viable in a high wage economy.
  • Robots carry out work that would be impossible for humans.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, robotics are the future, and it will comprise 60% of all science, mathematics, and engineering jobs. During May 2012, Corporate Recruiters and Staffing Firms posted over 6,000 online job ads for robotics skills, according to WANTED Analytics™, the leading source of real-time business intelligence for the talent marketplace. “Hiring demand for this skill set has grown steadily over the past three years. This represents a 29% year-over-year growth compared to May 2011 and twice the volume of job ads seen online in May 2010.”

This week we’ve taken the next step in the evolution of the company and launched an updated website to announce our new product and establish Symbotic as a solutions provider. As you consider Symbotic’s impact with robotics in the supply chain, consider how we and other local robotics companies will provide utility and impact – whether its improving our STEM educational reach, creating high value jobs, or improving working conditions.

We’re excited – excited about the rise of robotics in an industry that is ripe for automation that impacts our lives for the better.

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