“The way we approach the skills-gap is, rather than trying to bring those workers into someplace new, we want to meet them where they are, and give them the tools they need to be a more efficient, more valuable part of the company that they’re already a part of, and increase their value to their company. It’s really about empowering them.
…I want to take that person and say, ‘Yesterday you were a shipping and receiving clerk, and today you’re a roboticist.’ ”
Jason Walker of Waypoint Robotics joined us on the floor at MODEX 2018 in Atlanta to discuss the year-old company’s development of the WayPoint Vector: an omni-directional, autonomous robot that can find its way without wires, floor tape, or other environmental alterations.
The robot’s secret to omni-directional movement is in the four mecanum wheels that can each move independently of one another. They navigate using 2D or even 3D laser systems, and they also can charge wirelessly at EndZone stations whenever they’re idle. The stations are particularly effective because they not only charge the Vector’s batteries, but also any pay loads (like robotic arms) mounted on top of them.
”I always say, if you have a need for an autonomous robot, you have a need for autonomous charging.”
Additionally, Waypoint has dared to take the risk of making their robots and charging systems customizable on an individual basis, and compatible with other devices besides their own products. This gives clients the option of potentially going elsewhere to build their automated ecosystem. But customer convenience and that great value proposition is very important to Jason and his team.
Sacrificial values like that are what drive Waypoint along on their mission. While automation is rumored to be a “job-stealing” industry, Jason explained that many jobs like loading and unloading go through a very high turnover rate, whereas maintenance for automated carriers will increase the skills and value of the workers who monitor them. Products like Vector are meant to close the skills gap and put the workforce first.
So how is Waypoint taking these revolutionary devices and philosophies to market? Trade shows, and an absolute ton of inbound marketing: from blogging and eBooks for prospect education, to local outreach in their hometown of Boston.
“We use our inbound marketing techniques to create awareness of the brand, create awareness of the products, and generate interest; and then when people come to the show then we can reinforce it with seeing it for themselves.”
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