Path Robotics: Digital pathfinders to future growth
Path Robotics is an AI robotics company with a difference. It is pioneering the future of smart robots that take automation and digital transformation in the manufacturing sector to the next level, providing a frictionless path to growth built upon innovation and collaboration.
“We specifically focus on making robots learn how to do human-based tasks,” says Andrew Lonsberry, the co-founder and CEO. “Making robots smart enough to be able to understand how to perform their operation autonomously so that humans can focus on harder contextual problems.”
The company partners with leading manufacturers to power their digital transformation journey and remove the common obstacles to future growth. “Currently, lots of small to medium sized manufacturers are gridlocked because they cannot find labor to be able to allow their companies to grow, while other manufacturers that are focused on a solution deploying robots and techniques that are part of an end-to-end digital thread have the opportunity to grow faster and grow larger,” Lonsberry says.
Uniquely, Path empowers manufacturers to increase both their capacity and their flexibility. “Those two things, capacity and flexibility, are often complete opposites in the manufacturing world,” Lonsberry says. “If you want to increase scalability, you usually decrease flexibility. And if you want to increase flexibility, you usually decrease scalability.”
Schenck Process, a key partner of Path Robotics, has ambitions to expand on both these axes. As a partner of Schenck Process, Path plays a vital role in alleviating bottlenecks and underpinning those growth ambitions, providing an end-to-end “digital thread” that runs throughout the manufacturing process. Schenck possesses an extraordinary capacity to manufacture thousands of different components. It is an agile business - and that flexibility and scalability is underpinned by Path’s technology.
“What Path does specifically to help Schenck Process create a solution that allows the flexibility to be able to run thousands of different parts autonomously through a robotics system completely on its own,” Lonsberry explains. “It doesn't matter what part the Path Robotic system is looking at, as long as it fits within our weld cell, we see the it, we understand it and we weld it.”
As a partner, Path collaborates closely with Schenck to assist its growth plans, expanding and developing its own capabilities in parallel as a true strategic partner. Long-term, Lonsberry foresees a closer relationship and greater innovation.
“We see this partnership growing over the next five to 10 years,” he says. “We see Schenck continuously growing internally and continuously taking on more. That level of dedication to growth is something that we want to mirror, and we want to match. The commitment we're making to this partnership is that today is the just the first phase of a journey together, Path and Schenck Process, to implement an end-to-end digital thread throughout the manufacturing process and the business. We are excited to be a part of this groundbreaking effort.”
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.