Robotics Business Review recently reached out to Justin Ha, Director of Solutions Design at DHL Supply Chain. Justin has over 8 years of experience in supply chain, as well as experience in researching robotics, drones, AGVs, augmented reality, and supply chain networks.
Robotics and automation are continuing to change how supply chains are structured, and how goods flow throughout them. However, Ha believes that even more changes are to come as mobile autonomous robots are improved, and as robotics companies better address the needs of their end users.
What got you interested in robotics and artificial intelligence, and how is it connected to Supply Chain?
It’s hard to pin point to the exact cause, but it was a natural progression of my role with the company, and the direction my company was heading. Few years ago, DHL started investing in global groups that is researched into technologies/solutions that were trending in the industry or new ones that were emerging. My group (Solutions Design) are responsible for developing supply chain and logistic solutions to our customers, and we always knew the importance of considering and incorporating these innovative solutions to propose the best solution possible for the customer.
I jumped on the opportunity to lead this initiative for the North America region to not only excel at what I do, but it’s absolutely “cool” to learn in depth about technological advancement and how we’re taking advantage of it in our industry.
Which emerging technology or application excites you the most?
I’d have to say it’s the mobile autonomous robots. It’s opening up a lot of possibilities and gets right at the heart of inefficiency in our process, which is human travel. We’re seeing a lot of application for simple transport to assisting human operator, and in that there’s so many things we can eventually solve to help us with both quantitative and qualitative aspects in running a supply chain.
What are the biggest barriers to continued growth of the autonomous systems market?
I would have to say, is the adoption of new technologies. Even with a favorable business case, risks of the unknown may scare people from pulling the trigger. There definitely needs to be a sound approach to evaluating a new technology, but the industry is evolving so fast that it can’t just be because I can’t get comfortable with the idea of change.
Where do you expect robotics and AI use to grow the most in the next five years, and why?
Mobile piece picking robots. We have companies that are doing really well with designing the robotic arms, and have companies that are doing really well with the autonomous travel piece. There are few companies I know who have started working on putting them together and I think it’s only matter of time where they become more robust and the price point to come down.
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What do you think your session offers to the robotics developer and end-user community?
I work with a number of robotics companies, and I’m constantly trying to find a fit for many customers we have, who would be the end-users. My job is to evaluate technologies and find fit for actual application – while communicating this to all parties in a common language. I think I can speak to what some of the robotic companies lack in selling their solution, and know what the end-users are holistically looking for.
What are you most looking forward to about being at RoboBusiness?
Opportunity to meet with some of the new companies and network with others to find out their experience in the journey in the robotics space. Whether that’s from the developer perspective or the potential/current users.