Warehouse Automation FAQ with Josh Duane


Justin welcomes Josh Duane, Senior Account Executive at Hy-Tek Intralogistics, and they discuss the role of systems integrators in warehouse management. Josh explains that systems integrators deal with various aspects of warehouse management, including software, storage, automation, and robotics that can improve efficiency. He highlights the importance of systems integrators for warehouse operations and the need for increased awareness of their role among business owners, operators, and investors.

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  • Bringing in systems integrators traditionally after a space is found and set up – 2:00
  • Who is Hy-Tek Intralogistics – 4:40
  • Ways to integrate warehouse automation – 6:15
  • Business owners seeking to improve efficiency through warehouse automation – 11:20
  • Hy-Tek Intralogistics has a dedicated team that specializes in budgeting to provide quick turnaround assessments to gauge interest – 13:44
  • 3PL and smaller plays need some level of automation – 16:25
  • How they deal with delays – 19:00
  • Ceiling height plays a significant role in warehouse automation – 22:17
  • Hy-Tek has in-house teams and outsourced groups that focus on permitting and dealing with jurisdictions – 25:31
  • Industries that are starting to invest on automation – 28:40
  • The key to success is flexibility and combining different technologies rather than focusing on one specific solution – 29:55

Episode Resources

Connect with Josh Duane

Connect with Justin Smith


Justin Smith: Hi everybody, it’s Justin Smith. Welcome to the Industrial Insights Podcast. I have Josh Duane from Hy-Tek with me today, and he works on all things warehouse automation. There’s some very large projects taking place in the Inland Empire and in food and grocery delivery and in e-commerce and retail facilities all around And so he helps peel back the onion of what it takes to move goods through these buildings and where there’s technology that can help make operations more efficient, and what kind of investments and decision making goes into these types of projects. So I thought this would be great to illuminate for some of the business owners and operators out there and for investors to know better who their tenants are, what they’re doing, what kind of investments they’re making in their properties. Hope you enjoy.

Justin Smith: The topic today is systems integrators. And I know just enough to be dangerous. So as you think a commercial real estate broker, I get involved in helping CEOs set up warehouses, but I am like an operations person. I might be who you work with and, I will be connected in the sense that we all have to go from a vision to a building that’s empty, to a building that’s fully operational, to we’re moving product through the door, shipping, everything is live, and life is good. And so what I have found is my world seems to connect with yours after we’ve leased the building. And once we’re in the middle of doing some construction, whether it’s the landlord doing construction or the tenant doing construction, having to do with the lighting, the racking, the permits, building out any offices, break rooms, employee space, and then upgrading electrical conduits, all the city inspectors. And I feel like there’s a huge place where there’s a lack of knowledge for people like me and for investors that are buying these buildings to know what it takes to set one up and what it takes to turn the music on so to speak.

Josh Duane: Yeah, certainly. and I think what you described is probably the traditional way that it happens, right. Like this space is found and, you’re already doing your thing and getting it set up for the end user, and we get brought in to fit out the inside. Anything within the four walls is pretty much what we do. And that could be anything from storage through the automation and the software. What we are seeing now, especially for some of the higher automation buildings as we get involved earlier on and actually help spec out the size of the space and the ceiling heights and all that are going to fit with what the end user is trying to do as well. So it works both ways. Sometimes we’re brought in early and sometimes it’s, hey, you’ve got this much room to play in, figure out how to make it work for us.

Justin Smith: Yeah, no one will preach start early more than, you and me, probably. So we’ll be singing to the choir. For people listening that don’t know what an integrator is or systems integrator. Can you just get that out there for us please?

Josh Duane: Yeah, so the way that I like to describe it is, when you’re shopping online, it’s from when you hit click and your order is processed to when your order gets on that truck and is out the door. We do everything in between, so it’s all of the software for the warehouse management and the warehouse execution. It’s all of the storage of the goods in the facility. So racking shelving, automated storage systems. It’s the automation in the facility to actually get the product out the door. So the software pairs with automation and it’ll tell the associates, hey, this is the order go and get it, put it here, or do whatever the process is with it, and get it packed out and out the door. I think traditionally it was a lot of pallet racking, conveyance and sortation, and now it’s more of robotics and bringing goods to people versus, people walking around and grabbing goods. But it’s from click to trailer, it’s all those pieces in between that nobody thinks about.

Justin Smith: Yeah, and I would think of it also as like the quarterback of all those systems, if that’s 10 different systems. You need someone that’s aware of them all that’s putting all the people together and that understands how each one of them fits and then fits into the business system itself for business operations.

Josh Duane: Yeah, certainly. I think that’s a really good way to, to look at it. It’s the overarching signal caller for this is the order what is the best way to go about getting it out the door. And it could combine different technologies in the building. It could be as quick as going to get it, but yeah, certainly, I think quarterback’s a great analogy there.

Justin Smith: Yeah, we won’t go football analogies the whole time, but we could run with that. And Hy-Tek, who’s Hy-Tek and why is it Intralogistics?

Josh Duane: Hy-Tek Intralogistics is new, branding as of January 1st of this year. We were Hy-Tek Material Handling for a while, but as we’ve started acquiring more companies and have our scope and reach has grown, Material Handling wasn’t really a great descriptive of what we do. So Intralogistics is more of wanted to give the feel of one stop shop. Whereas, before we would farm out our software services and our installation, and stuff like that. That’s all done in-house now. So a little rebranding. That’s the Intralogistics play on it.

Josh Duane: Yeah. I’m thinking, movement of goods within the building is the intra. Yeah, I like it. I think it’s great.

Josh Duane: Yeah, some clever marketing people got together, but I agree it fits.

Justin Smith: Yeah. Sawyer. Woo. We’ll give that one to you. And then tell me where we’re at in terms of the marketplace of robotics is where you alluded to of the trends or when you think of where are we now and where are we going? So we went from traditional picking and packing and conveyance systems, and now the rise of the robots. And so everybody’s wondering how does automation fit? Like it’s a big promise and is it an underdeliver and overdeliver? How do we get that in? So yeah, maybe you can help us understand how people are starting to like to find their path to begin the warehouse automation journey.

Josh Duane: Yeah, so the automation journey can start very simply. There’s some really low cost, low tech, ways to get into it that help. But I guess the initial question is, where are we going and how did we get here? Automation isn’t going anywhere. The labor challenges are still there. We’re finding ways to not do away with labor. It’s how do we supplement labor? How do we fill in and how do we allow businesses to continue to service their customers when it’s really challenging for them to do that. So, it gets as high end as, we have some lights out type facilities where there’s really next to no labor other than technicians and people kind of watching over the systems, to where we have, smaller AMRs and mobile robots where it’s still a fairly manual system, but you’ve got the robots running around the associates and the facilities don’t have to do as much walking and traveling. And their focus is on the productive pieces that make the business, money, the picking and the packing, and they’re not wasting their time going from point A to point B. Yeah, it is growing. It’s becoming, more affordable for a lot of reasons. The two main ones are the cost of labor is still really high but also the cost of the technology and what the technology can do not coming down, but in relative terms, it’s easier to justify for a lot of people.

Justin Smith: Yeah, the price of TVs have come down and they’re bigger, they’re nicer, and they’re still getting cheaper. Tell me a light out system, I’ve never heard of that. Can you explain what one of those would be like?

Josh Duane: Yeah, you see them a lot in like grocery type applications, but there’s other applications as well where it’s completely automated. An order gets dropped and from that point forward you’ve got different automated systems going to grab it. In a grocery type application, it could be a store order where, hey, we need to pair up all of these products together and get them on a trailer. It would be grabbing pallets, a crane system grabbing pallets, depalletizing goods, those goods getting sorted and put together for that order. And it’s all done without manual intervention. So it’s no people in the facility. It’s pretty neat stuff. There’s not a lot of people doing that. It’s really expensive, but it makes sense when you have enough volume for it to make sense, for sure.

Justin Smith: Yeah, that’s wild to see what like the slickest of the slick look like. I feel like a lot of warehouse automation people talk about European operations and then being light years ahead of the US. I would imagine they have some of those too.

Josh Duane: Yeah, their hand is forced right. They don’t have the space in the building, so they have to get more creative within the space. They do have more automation in a lot of instances and better space utilization than a lot of American companies. But the lights out facilities are certainly not the norm. What we see more of the norm is the smaller stuff and a lot of entry level stuff. These robotic companies have gotten creative in how they go to market to where you’re leasing the product and not buying it. So your capital investment is not as great as buying a fleet of robots when you’re paying either per month, paying per pick in some instances that’s paying as you use.

Justin Smith: Yeah, that was all new to me when I was writing my book. That was two years ago. I’m just trying to figure that out a little bit. I’m not on the cusp of seeing that as often, but in the Inland Empire we have a ton of that. I think, if you have a project or two in mind that are good examples that you’ve worked on out here that you could give us, that’d be helpful to use as a lens for some of this conversation.

Josh Duane: Yeah, certainly. A lot of my West Coast projects Southern California projects in particular are store distribution. They’re not e-commerce distribution where its companies bringing in containers from overseas, they’re breaking that product down and getting it sorted out, typically to go to smaller facilities. So these are goods coming into million plus square foot buildings, larger buildings and they’re getting shipped out to pool facilities in regional pool points for that last mile piece where they’re going to get resorted and onto a store level. Southern California is really big on store distribution centers in lots of big buildings. The million square footer that was last year of the, like, how many can we have and how many deals are there. That’s new to us, but now becoming normal. Not a normal to do a lot of those deals but that they’re available and growing and being built more often.

Josh Duane: You know, it’s wild, we have multiple customers in the Inland Empire that’ll have, 1.2 million here and then two miles down the road, it’s another million plus square foot building and there’s two or three of them within a five mile radius. You’re like, gosh this is definitely different. You don’t get that here where we’re at. You’re starting to see it some in the Savannah area.

Justin Smith: And when customers call you and they’re feeling pain points, what kind of pain points are they talking about? What hurts and what’s the problem that they’re calling you about that you’re equipped to solve?

Josh Duane: Oh, pain points, a lot of it is cost to get goods through the building and out the door. It’s really expensive. In some instances to process product through the facility and to fulfill orders. So it’s, hey, how do we do this more efficiently? How can we take some steps out of this? How can we do it faster and how can we do it more economical?

Justin Smith: Faster, cheaper, better.

Josh Duane: Yeah, and it’s all about getting the data from them and looking at it and a lot of times as you start mapping it out, it’s okay, yeah, there, there’s definitely some areas to be improved here, wherever that here is. But looking at the numbers and seeing the actual cost.

Justin Smith: What would be a ballpark of, cost? I know it’s different like a per unit and what your views are, and everyone will have their own metrics based on their business, but what would be some, metrics that would be common to see in the marketplace?

Josh Duane: It’s not common for people to have what the metrics in front of them. It’s fairly, when we start digging into these things and you start-

Justin Smith: People are unaware sometimes. Yeah, they don’t know what they don’t know.

Josh Duane: What the actual cost of good is especially when you start looking at the returns piece of the business is. It’s a forgotten bit that nobody wants to talk about. I’m not going to say nobody, but a lot of people don’t track what it costs to bring stuff back in and how much does it cost to get it repurposed or to throw it away, or whatever the case is. There’s a ton of different metrics and it really depends on what area that you’re looking at for what you’re trying to track. Gosh, it’s all over the place, the KPIs that we look at.

Justin Smith: It’s like someone asking me what’s the cost of real estate? And you’re like, hold up, I can’t even start here.

Josh Duane: A lot of words for a big, vague, non-answer, but it’s hard to just throw out a number like that. Yeah, you hit the nail on the head there.

Justin Smith: Yeah, but you get the calls for pain points right. That’s when I get them, and that’s when I’m, able to look at what they have and think through what’s a potential solution and to start sizing it up. I imagine that it’s helpful for you to go on site and then meet the people in person and see their operation, and that means everything.

Josh Duane: Yeah, seeing it, seeing an operation means a lot. you can talk about it, but until you actually lay eyes on it, it’s hard to really put together the puzzle of, what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. So yeah, going to the site tells you a lot. And we ask by nature of that, we spend a lot of time going to sites and a lot of time on the road.

Justin Smith: Yeah, and I get stuck into the budget question. A lot of people coming up with budgets and you got to start somewhere. And so seeing a space and knowing where you can start within the building and the operation, and then looking at a budget and where you can start. How do you help people with their budgets and what are ways that people can start to justify or fit it into theirs?

Josh Duane: Yeah, so as far as the budgeting piece of it goes and putting together that budget, people typically know where it hurts, right? So then you start looking at how do we fix where it hurts and how big of a problem is it? You can’t throw a $5 million solution at a $100,000 problem, so is it a justifiable thing to look at? But when it comes time to actually start doing the budgeting piece of it, we’ve got a dedicated team that’s all they do is budgeting. We try to do it as a quick turn piece to see if the interest is there and to see if it’s worth, digging into further. But your ROI piece of this ask, is actually something that. I think a lot of people are struggling with right now as the cost of items goes up. We’re starting to see, hey, this isn’t your traditional two year payback. You’re not going to get that, but you can’t service your customers if you don’t do something different. So we’re having to look at more of the qualitative factors in an ROI and build a case based off of those instead of the quantitative.

Justin Smith: And what would qualitative examples be?

Josh Duane: Sure. So the quantitative piece is the hard numbers, right? That’s the easy piece. But the qualitative piece could be your customer service, your accuracy, just the ability to get product out the door. If you don’t have the labor force and you can’t work them more to get our stuff out the door, so you have to do something different there. It’s stuff that you can’t put that hard number to.

Justin Smith: The way I have looked at it sometimes, the part that it didn’t make sense to me a little bit is people will make, five year commitments, seven, 10, sometimes 15 year commitments on these properties when they lease them. And if you think of making a five year commitment on an e-commerce site, and you’re going to work with Josh and we’re going to get this thing all dialed in and we’re going to spend a couple million bucks doing it. And it’s going to take six months maybe to get all set up. It could take a year sometimes if we have 2020 all over again or 2021. And then, you are one year in, and you got four years left and you got your payback period and your ROI that you’re have in the back of your mind. And imagine if you’re a landlord and Josh is just pouring money into this facility and you’re thinking, okay, these guys are going to be sticking around for a while. Do you think they’ll get high renewal rate number from the landlord or a low renewal rate if you know they’re sticky and stuck in the building. And so that’s one where, I wish it were easier to line those up where you can line the investment in the building up with the term of your agreement for the distribution center that you’re getting. I feel like those don’t always line up. Just there’s so many decisions to make and those aren’t always in lockstep.

Josh Duane: We used to really struggle with 3PL companies and that issue of these are shorter term contracts. Your payback has to be super quick or we’re not even going to look at it. And the past, call it five years maybe it’s a little bit more that is starting to change. And it doesn’t have to be that it was less than two years for those guys traditionally. And now that’s not necessarily the case because they can’t get their work done without bringing in some level of automation. Especially the bigger players that like GXO’s of the world. They have fully embraced and grasped that.

Justin Smith: They’ve got bananas, huh? Yeah, they’ve gotten the other way of not over in investing but making significant capital contributions to make it their like superpower.

Josh Duane: Yeah, and I think what has done is this opened the eyes to some of the smaller players and they’re starting to dabble a little bit more in automation, which is fun to see. It’s nice.

Justin Smith: Yeah. Of your book of business would you say 3PLs is half of that or is less or more?

Josh Duane: It depends on, it’s year to year. We’re so based off of large projects where it’s you’re doing a few pretty big jobs, throughout the year. It could be 50% or greater some years. Some years it may be as low as, I don’t know I don’t think it would ever deploy 25%. But yeah, it’s depending on the scope of the large projects that we’re awarded. With what we do for work is almost like elephant hunting for every project. You don’t pay the bills going after shelving and racking opportunities.

Justin Smith: You and I are elephant hunters together. Yeah, I see you out there on the range doing your thing. That’s great. That is what it is though because it only happens so often. There’s a long sales cycle, there’s a lot of homework, there’s a lot of trust.

Josh Duane: Yeah, you mentioned six months or a year to bring a project in. We’ve got some that, they’re probably two and a half years before. It’s from the time we get started to it’s operational. I mean it just long sales cycle.

Justin Smith: Can you tell me of this ramp up 2020 to 2022, how did that change the game for you? And ability to make a project successful. Whatever you knew to be true. Yeah. How did it change?

Josh Duane: Yeah, I know, I’m sure it’s a lot like you, but we’re some of the few people that benefited from the pandemic and people needing distribution space. So in distributions space comes the automation. With the less workers comes more automation. The second half of 2020 until, gosh, the beginning of this year has just been wide open. Can’t get work done fast enough. Can’t get our hands on a lot of stuff still. We’re still having some supply chain issues like everybody else. It’s getting better but it’s certainly not back to where it was.

Justin Smith: Can you help me understand if you’re a CEO and you are dealing with that and, Josh has promised this system that’s going to be so amazing and then you can’t get certain pieces. How do you get on with your operation or how do you work around some of those? I know in my world it was like, dock levelers and pit levelers were 36 weeks out. Lights, you had to order them earlier. Racking, the narrow forklifts was another one. In your mind you have this vision of this perfect system and then you have to walk the path and the path is a windy road. How do you deal with those and still have a business that’s shipping product and that’s changing as different parts of it come in?

Josh Duane: Yeah, I think it’s a two-part answer, right. With the Greenfield facilities where it’s a new building and you’re bringing it all in there’s some delays that happened and are still happening that just shuts you down. If you can’t get those lifts for a lot of these buildings, you can’t utilize the racking that you put in. You can’t utilize a lot of the stuff that you designed it for. So really, we all started learning together, I think of we have an issue here and you have to be upfront about it and make sure that people are tracking towards, we can get everything done with this piece and this piece is going to be way out. So you’re not going to be fully operational. But with that, we brought in people getting creative and getting flexible and making different ways to get stuff out the door. And that really is where we come in with the Brownfield side of things too, is flexibility and building in workarounds for potential issues that could come up. That’s been the theme of the past, two, three years, is flexibility. Not only how do we put in a system to where, if we’re missing whatever that piece may be, how can we still operate and be flexible in that way but use the pieces we can use. That’s one part of it, but also it brought in flexibility of okay, if we put in this called a hard line system of conveyor and sortation, it’s set up for what we’re doing now. What if we have another, big event that happens and it completely changes the way that we do our business again? This system isn’t flexible, whereas some of these other systems are more scalable and more flexible when people are starting to focus on flexibility and stuff that can adapt with their business as things change.

Justin Smith: Yeah, I learned you don’t set up the whole building all the time, sometimes you’re only setting up half of it and you got to grow into it depending on what your ramp up phase is.

Josh Duane: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It is not uncommon for us to be utilizing part of a facility while the other part is blocked off and construction.

Justin Smith: I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you being a real estate guy, the building itself you’ve seen ones that have been problematic or ones that have laid out well. For us, it’s a box, right. It’s a rectangle. It’s a square. God forbid it’s round somewhere or has its triangle. Have you had any experiences where the shape of the building like really changed things or the orientation of the yard or any like building characteristics that really move the needle and being able to be like a great or be problematic?

Josh Duane: Yeah, you always have people that try to force something that isn’t necessarily there. But I think more with low ceiling building, but you’re trying to have a ton of storage in it. It doesn’t work out, stuff like that we see often. The two problems we see is sometimes people are going in too big of a space, which is not as big of a problem. We can outfit what they need and then they can get creative and lease out part of the space or whatever case may be. But the one that really sticks is when we get brought in later in the process and they’ve picked out a site that they know the area they’re going to, they have the building picked out.

Justin Smith: Justin said it was going to work right for us.

Josh Duane: Right. We were looking at one recently where they picked out a nice big building. It’s roughly a million feet, and you start going through and you, we have a team of consultants that help us. They’re our internal guys and you put together a space pointer and you’re like, it’s just, it’s not there. You need a million and a quarter to do what you want to do with it. And they’re already down the road with that building, so that’s fit as much as you can, but there’s going to be shortcomings with it.

Justin Smith: Yeah. That’s more include us early so we can help you size it up with whatever it is that you’re envisioning. And then ceiling height, right. 32′ was gold standard for a period of time and now it could be 36′ here sometimes you’ll see 40′. And then across the country you start seeing all sorts of crazy things you’d never imagined before. There’s got to be a level of you need different equipment and certain systems like different ROI and different SKUs and volume. How do you think about ceiling height?

Josh Duane: Ceiling height, the building is existing, and we’re not brought in up front. Ceiling height can really play a role in dictate what technology is going to make sense. A lot of the stuff you look at a lot of the cost is in the first handful of feet and then going verticals super cheap. So if you’re doing like a goods storage system, you want that 40 foot ceiling, you want to be able to go up high, and if you go into a site and you’ve got 20 feet, then it’s going to be hard to justify. You’re going to be so spread out and you’re not using that vertical space. So we want as high as you can give us that opens the door for a lot more options in technology and why it can be put in the space. If you’ve got low ceilings, it really limits some of the stuff that you can do. Or if you can figure out how to make a convertible building for us that’d be cool too.

Justin Smith: Yeah. We’ve talked with the roof lifters, but it rarely makes sense because of the other component parts of the building are also outdated. We’re just raising it, doesn’t then get you more docks or more truck space. Yeah, it’s funny a lot of people have looked into it.

Josh Duane: But I think the magic is in, 32ish plus is good, 40 is great. And if you get above that, some of these super tall buildings, those people are brought in early and that’s based around the technology that they’re putting in. They’re usually using some kind of a crane system that’s those 60 and 80 foot buildings, the really tall ones.

Justin Smith: The city being a pain in your side, do you ever deal with that? I got to imagine everybody has some version of, they mean well, but they’re really cramping my style because they’re asking for too much or some version of that. Is that a reality? Do you see that? What’s your experience?

Josh Duane: Yes. It really is. and where you live, and work is particularly tough. It can be particularly painful. We’ve got a team of in-house, people that focus on permitting and dealing with jurisdictions, and we also have groups that we outsource to. That’s all that they do to try and ease some of that burden because it’s super time consuming and it differs so much from place to place, it’s hard for one person. We work anywhere but near where I live so having one person that knows everything is just not possible.

Justin Smith: That’s a local game. Yeah, there’s no uniformity in the city game. And what would be challenges you would face? The one I saw recently was talking about needing fire suppression underneath some conveyance. And that was something that was like, why would we need that? And that seems like that’s overreach perhaps.

Josh Duane: Yeah, fire protection is certainly a big one and depending on where you’re at in jurisdiction, it changes so much from place to place and sometimes underneath just conveyor systems. This changes too, but if you have something that’s wider than 48 inches, almost always we have to put fire suppression under it. But some places it’s narrower than that and it’s very cost prohibitive to put a system in for 40 inch wide piece of conveyor. So that one definitely is one that catches us a lot. Different egress regulations and designing. We’ve put in this thing on 2D on paper and it checks all these boxes, but then you start looking at where associates are at and what’s their path out the door. The egress path, changes. Your limits change from place to place. Sometimes it even varies from level to where if you’re building like a multi-level, like a mezzanine, lower level, you get this many feet. But if you get to that second level, there’s a different set of rules.

Justin Smith: Yeah, I have not worked on any of the mezzanine like you would see in like the Amazon warehouse. I could only imagine how you get people out. What’s the deal with that? What’s the cliff Notes version?

Josh Duane: It changes from place to place. But if you’re going to do something with that upper level, you have to look into what that regulation is for the area that the building’s going to be upfront. You have to design around it. Which is not as easy to do as it sounds cause some of the stuff is kind of a set shape. So how do you put it in a place where you can get people out? And it even gets as strange sometimes as there’s different rules of smoke ventilation based off of the height of the platform itself. And that changes the amount of egress. You’ve got to do your homework.

Justin Smith: Mezzanine, that’s a good one. That being an issue being a component part of that. That’s a lot of things people need to think about, right. That like executives may not be aware of even though they’re driving the ship and then they’re empowering their people that are like a supply chain and operations professionals that need to then work with folks like you and your team to try and create a successful project.

Josh Duane: Yeah, certainly. It’s too much stuff for one group to know. You got to go to the people that do know, which sometimes is us. A lot of times it’s you, so you got to get the right team together.

Justin Smith: And then industries, healthcare it seems like is blowing up and the life science space is blowing up. What other green shoots do you see in, like when you think of people, you’re getting calls from and companies that seem to be investing in this right now, like industry wise?

Josh Duane: Yeah, so we’ve got the three I guess pillars of what we do are going to be e-commerce, retail, and then the 3PL space, and they drop a ton of business. But yeah, healthcare is one that they are investing in technology and have been for a few years now for automation. And that’s only growing and that’s a little different cause you’re handling a different, it’s not a store court all the time. You’re handling different stuff in that space. It’s a little different, set of rules and designs that you go with there. And then food distribution, grocery, and even like the micro distribution in that space for your online store orders. There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on there and it’s only growing.

Justin Smith: How do you pick an apple with a robot?

Josh Duane: Very carefully.

Justin Smith: Yeah, no doubt. That’s awesome. That’s most of the stuff I was thinking about and thinking that would be helpful for people that are out there. Is there anything I missed that you can think of big trends or things that people that are considering this should know or should be thinking? Start early, be flexible.

Josh Duane: Flexibility is key. And then one thing that we see often that you try to educate people on is making sure you’re taking an overall look. You’re not focusing on one possible technology, and you look at the possibility of combining different bits and pieces to fit what you need. Don’t get penciled in by thinking one thing is answer. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s the combining of different components from what we’re seeing is the key to success versus focusing on one.

Justin Smith: That sounds like that was battle tested knowledge. What would an experience be where someone’s like, we got to get those Kiva robots? Amazon’s crushing it. So you make me a system with Kiva, please. What would be like a common thing where someone would hold onto it a tighter than they should?

Josh Duane: Yeah. We see it a lot in the AMR space.

Justin Smith: You just said AMR is autonomous mobile robots?

Josh Duane: Correct. The mobile robot space. And people think, hey, this is going to fix all of our pain points. This is going to move our stuff around and there’s a couple of challenges with that. One is, AMRs are great if they do what they’re set to do, but if they’re only going from point to point and mission to mission, and if you don’t have the software in there to direct them in a way that’s autonomous and you’re having to manually direct them from mission to mission. That’s the pain point in itself. But then just sending them from place to place doesn’t fix most people’s problems. A lot of times you need to add something else to go with those AMRs. It is a big key piece to some solution, but it is not the overall answer. You pair it with whatever it may be, pair it with conveyance, pair it with other types of robotics to come up with the best answer.

Justin Smith: It’s the newest and nicest and shiniest thing on the block but it’s not the complete system. Cool, that’s been really informative, Josh. I appreciate it. This is something that is increasingly in all of our world and something that people can never know enough about when they’re setting up these sites. And so I really appreciate you helping educate us and tell us how people are doing it out there so we can make better assumptions and provide better contacts and better resources to make for happier people, better businesses and to make the world go.

Josh Duane: Certainly. Thank you so much for the time, Justin, and I appreciate it.