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Thought Leaders in Automation

Tyler McCoy

Tyler McCoy

Vice President, Business Development
JR Automation

Tyler McCoy is the Vice President of Business Development for JR Automaton. He leads the strategy and new market development initiatives at JR Automation for warehouse and logistics automation. Prior to this role, he served in several engineering and R&D leadership positions through JR Automation. Tyler received a BSME from Grand Valley State University and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.

QUESTION

There’s been a shift in how robotics are used, and we’d love to hear your take on how robots have moved from primarily a tool for big companies in manufacturing to products that are used by companies of all sizes and virtually every industry.

ANSWER

The origin of robotics belongs to large scale, high volume automotive manufacturing. As the technology evolved, the tools and skillsets moved upstream to the automotive suppliers, and then across to other adjacent industrial segments of the economy. Over the past decade, as economies of scale and technological advancements have driven costs down, we see positive returns on robotics working down to smaller applications, particularly those that can take advantage of the precision and flexibility that modern robotic systems can provide.

 

International Robot Safety Conference

QUESTION

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many vulnerabilities in areas such as supply chain, business operations, manufacturing processes, etc. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned that will help your company be better prepared for future pandemics?

ANSWER

Communication is critical. From the top down our leadership teams have done an excellent job of regularly communicating about how COVID-19 has affected our business, the way we do business, and what that means to each individual. Regular updates and check-ins across our teams have helped maintain a level of normalcy and keep us focused and motivated to keep making our customers successful.

QUESTION

During the last 20 years, manufacturing companies have seen a 25 percent improvement in productivity as a result of automation. This has caused a recalibration in the tasks of the workforce. How does this benefit not only the company, but also the worker? Also, what other changes do you see coming to the workforce?

ANSWER

One benefit to working in automation is the nearly daily reminder of how remarkable the human mind and human body really are (just think of all the efforts over the past few years in the Amazon Picking Challenge -- just to pick an item from a tote). As we look at how automation can enhance the workforce, the trend we see is that automation takes away the repetitive, monotonous, and dangerous parts of a job, and leaves the parts requiring uniquely human skillsets such as creativity and problem-solving. This shift tends to lead to higher-paying, more fulfilling careers for the workers as they move to supervise and work alongside the automation system, while simultaneously creating greater productivity for the company.

One of the major trends in the past three years has been an increased focus on ease of use in automation and robotics. As systems become more intuitive and easier to adjust and maintain, it will only accelerate a company’s ability to promote its workforce into more advanced roles supporting and working alongside robotics and automation.

QUESTION

With economists forecasting larger uses of robotics and automation, especially coming out of the COVID-19 landscape, this potentially means a lot of new customers – where do you see the major opportunities for automation and robotics?

ANSWER

As robotics, AI, and vision have all advanced significantly in the past few years, there are significant opportunities for automation in intelligent logistics and supply chain applications. For already highly automated manufacturers, intelligent material handling is often the biggest lever to pull for additional efficiency gains. When developed together, as a full value chain solution, intelligent manufacturing and logistics systems are able to help control materials better, reduce inventory, and eliminate waste.

QUESTION

With economists forecasting larger uses of robotics and automation, especially coming out of the COVID-19 landscape, this potentially means a lot of new customers – what would you tell business leaders about getting started with automation?

ANSWER

The key is proper prioritization. We’ve observed that companies who are new to automation often rush to solve their hardest “moonshot” problems first, while completely overlooking their more mature, better candidates for automation. As business leaders develop their automation strategies, it is important to work closely with experts in the industry to develop the proper first targets. The customers that receive the most value from JR Automation are those closely partner with us in the early stages of specification development. When we work together to develop the problem statement, we can provide guidance on the appropriate technologies, and learn more about the specific pain points of the business. Through this early engagement, we can jointly develop the correct solution and maximize the benefit to the customer.

QUESTION

While we all know downtime can help relieve stress, several science-backed studies confirm you actually improve productivity when you take time to enjoy life outside of the office. What are some of your favorite things to do in your free time?

ANSWER

For so many of us, COVID-19 has accentuated the need to ensure we take proper care of ourselves. Aside from spending quality time with my wife and kids, I’ve stuck to a more strict exercise routine the past few months, prioritizing outdoor activities like running, road or mountain biking, and kitesurfing.

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