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Vecna Robotics partners with forklift maker Big Joe to launch robotic pallet jack

Vecna Robotics, a provider of flexible material handling automation solutions, has partnered with forklift maker Big Joe to launch a robotic pallet jack.

The two companies jointly announced the development at MODEX 2022.

Vecna’s latest autonomous offering for labor-intensive material-handling workflows is called the Vecna CPJ.

This “revolutionary” co-bot pallet jack is uniquely designed to bring human-assisted robotics to warehouses and manufacturing facilities with labor-intensive workflows that have been long ignored by robotics automation, including shorter distances, lower throughput, and tighter spaces.

Internal simulations and field tests reveal up to 45 percent improvement in throughput versus human work only.

There are over 5 billion pallets in circulation and nearly 5 million manual pallet jacks at work moving them every day.

With 70 percent of the total cost of moving those pallets being labor – and severe labor shortages crippling supply chains – Big Joe and Vecna Robotics identified a clear need for an autonomous material handling solution to handle “in-between” loads.

The new offering combines Vecna Robotics’ proven expertise in autonomous mobile robots and orchestration with Big Joe’s trusted material handling hardware.

Together, the two companies provide an easy-to-use, on-demand labor automation service that frees up human workers to focus on higher-value tasks.

Craig Malloy, CEO at Vecna Robotics, says: “The last 18 months had driven huge demand for AMRs like autonomous forklifts, but current offerings are typically only accessible to very large facilities.

“Our CPJ is a game-changer as it allows facilities of varied sizes to address their immediate labor shortages with intelligent material handling robots.

“The new solution works seamlessly alongside human workers and automates a broader range of payloads, workflows, and environments that the market is not currently addressing.”

To maximize the accessibility of the product and help with immediate labor shortages, Vecna CPJ will be available through a Robot-as-a-Service (RaaS) pricing model that is designed to support easy onboarding of robotics solutions and deliver rapid savings without the need for large CapEx budgets.

Bill Pedriana, CMO of Big Joe, says: “Bringing solutions to market that empower workers to better manage in-between material handling tasks is a core to who we are.

“We are thrilled to be working with an industry leader like Vecna Robotics to bring our first robotics offering to the masses together. Their intelligent and easy to deploy system will help our joint customers make moving workloads far more efficient day one.”

Vecna Robotics’ customers, including GEODIS and Shape Corp, trust the company’s material handling automation solutions to simplify workflows and increase throughput.

Andy Johnston, senior director of innovation at GEODIS in Americas, says: “Vecna Robotics’ new co-bot platform is an innovative, accessible solution for improving productivity in labor-intensive, underserved workflows across the warehouse.

“We look forward to future tests of the platform and continued innovation from Vecna Robotics on automating material handling workflows.”

Mahesh Nikam, Shape excellence systems manager, Shape Corp, says: “Vecna Robotics’ CPJ is a versatile platform that complements our future deployments, while the flexibility and simplicity of operation allows us to tackle new use cases.

“We look forward to expanding our work with Vecna and incorporating this into our other workflows to automate our material handling processes.”

Vecna Robotics also collaborated with industry leader Quanergy Systems (NYSE: QNGY) on the lidar technology used by the CPJ to enable mass-market adoption and democratize access to automation.

Enzo Signore, CMO at Quanergy, says: “The time to democratize automation in material handling is now. This technology has long been exclusive to early adopters or those in select industries with large budgets for innovation.

“In collaboration with Vecna Robotics, we have a unique opportunity to deliver a true co-bot solution to help companies overcome dire labor shortage issues with technology that can be immediately deployed, virtually out-of-the-box.”

Available for purchase by the end of 2022, Vecna CPJ will offer the following:

  • Flexible configurations for moving a variety of pallets, carts, racks, bins, and other payloads up to 3,300 lbs. / 1,500 kg
  • Full AMR functionality, including intelligent route planning, obstacle circumvention, and transport at an accessible entry point
  • Seamless switching between autonomous and manual control, easy onboarding, user-friendly UI/UX for intuitive programming and collaborative workflows
  • Enterprise-class automation to historically underserved workflows, including pallet and tote consolidation, pick-to-packout, QA/QC/rework, and dunnage retrieval
  • Productivity boosts with collaborative human-robot workflows at large, multi-shift enterprise sites with tight spaces
  • Intelligent human-robot orchestration, autonomy, interoperability, remote monitoring, and analytics powered by Vecna’s Pivotal software

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