A Developer’s Take on the SOFTBOT Platform
In this conversation, Chloë Lind interviews Amanda Seiken, Director of Engineering at SVT Robotics, to discuss how the SOFTBOT Platform affects the day-to-day operations from an engineering and operations perspective.
Chloë: Hi Amanda, welcome to Automation Unpacked, Tales from the Warehouse. Thank you for being here.
Amanda: Hey, Chloë. Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.
Chloë: We’ve been wanting to get you on the podcast. We’re excited to dive into the Platform, taking a behind-the-scenes look at SOFTBOT and its impact on customers. But first, can you share a bit about your background and journey to SVT?
Amanda: Absolutely. I stumbled into software development during college, studying math and found myself loving software engineering. I joined SVT almost three years ago as a software engineer, working on our early SOFTBOT Platform. My role expanded over time to engineering management and eventually directorship.
Chloë: SVT is your first dive into supply chain technology, right?
Amanda: Indeed. My background was more e-commerce oriented before this, but exploring the material handling industry has been fascinating. The journey from warehouse to a consumer’s home has so many facets that often go unnoticed.
Chloë: True. The pandemic accelerated our understanding of supply chain delays. How do you explain our focus on automation to people who might have fears or misconceptions?
Amanda: There’s often a lot of misunderstanding. People often get caught up in visions of robots taking over or stealing jobs, but automation can come in various forms. I emphasize the practical sides, like the functionality of a small bot or an LED screen assisting with inventory.
Chloë: Speaking of automation, for clients considering it, what are the main challenges they face?
Amanda: Big decisions in automation can be daunting due to the cost, time, and uncertainty of integration with existing systems. The time frames quoted for integration can cause anxiety, and the fear of being stuck with a choice adds to the concern.
Chloë: That’s where SVT steps in. How do we ease these challenges?
Amanda: Our Platform is designed to ease integration, offering tech-agnostic solutions that act as translators between different systems. Flexibility and the capability to expand seamlessly with our Platform is crucial for our customers.
Chloë: Can you give an overview of the SOFTBOT Platform and how it’s pivotal in integration?
Amanda: The SOFTBOTs function as connectors or orchestrators. The connectors act as API plugins for edge technology, while orchestrators manage the business logic. The flexibility and the adaptability of these SOFTBOTs make them effective in various settings.
Chloë: Troubleshooting and monitoring, that’s always important. How does our technology handle that aspect?
Amanda: Our Platform logs every SOFTBOT transaction and presents this information visually. It’s user-friendly, enabling a straightforward approach to trace and identify errors.
Chloë: Being on-site, you’ve witnessed our technology in action. Any particular moments where the clients understood the real impact?
Amanda: Yes. So typically the “aha” moment often comes when we finish orders way earlier than expected, demonstrating the immense efficiency gained. This often brings a collective surprise and realization of how the technology is revolutionizing their workflow.
Chloë: How do our solutions handle peak seasons or sudden changes in operations?
Amanda: The Platform’s flexibility allows us to manage changes in volume or patterns. You efficiently make adjustments based on requirements, making it ideal for seasonality.
Chloë: Finally, you mentioned misunderstandings around automation. Is there anything else that people often overlook?
Amanda: The role of humans in the process is underestimated. Processes and the attitude of employees around automation are pivotal for success. Involving and aligning everyone is as important as the tech itself.
Chloë: Who are the key players in ensuring a successful deployment, based on your experiences?
Amanda: Collaboration among SVT, CIOs, IT teams, and operations is crucial for a smooth integration. Understanding and addressing each group’s concerns and needs makes a significant difference.
Chloë: You’ve highlighted an essential point about automation not replacing people but enhancing their work experience. Anything else you’d like to emphasize?
Amanda: My focus is on the impact of automation in making jobs easier rather than eliminating them. It’s crucial to understand the improvement in quality of life for those working in these spaces.
Chloë: Thank you so much for this enlightening conversation, Amanda. It’s been a pleasure!
Amanda: Likewise, Chloë. Thank you. Cheers.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Please listen or watch the episode to catch the entire conversation.