In this week's Industrial Talk Podcast we're talking to John Hayes, Director of Sales at Balyo about “Stabilizing Operations as well as Costs by Utilizing Automated Transport of Materials”. Get the answers to your “Autonomous Transport” questions along with Ricky's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!
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Company Website: https://www.balyo.com/
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Scott MacKenzie, John Hayes
Scott MacKenzie 00:04
Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go Alright, welcome to the industrial talk podcast. Once again, we take a journey into why industry is so doggone cool. I'm telling you right now you're bold, you're brave, you dare greatly you solve problems. you innovate like nobody's business. You're changing lives and you're changing the world. That's why we on this podcast, celebrate you, the industrial hero, that's who you are. Thank you very much for what you do. And that's why we love you here on this platform. In a hot seat in the industrial talk hotseat, we got a gentleman by the name of john Hayes. He is the director of sales at a company called Balyo. And we're going to be talking about autonomous vehicles. So let's get going. Yeah, so there's some challenges that we are experiencing. And and of course, you know that the industrial talk platform is all about innovation and being able to apply that innovation, creativity to apply those solutions to industry to be able to be better, stronger, faster, the Steve Austin approach, and Balyo is no different. We're talking about autonomous vehicles. Now, before we get into that particular conversation, let's just have a just a recap of industrial talk to Dotto again, if I keep on preaching the necessity for education, it's out there, if I keep on preaching the necessity to collaborate, that the people are out on industrial talk, and they do want to collaborate, they do want to solve problems. And thirdly, if we're talking about innovation all the time, and how that innovation is applied to each industry and how they're using that in innovation to well make you better, provide greater customer service, everything in between. It makes sense. So Industrial Talk 2.0 is a focus on being able to make that process the education, the collaboration and the innovation process simpler, because we need to bring people together, we need to be able to have that conversation in a big way. And john Hayden and the wonderful team out of Balyo, they're just like right in the thick of it. And they've got solutions that are very, very important. Now, let's get on with the interview. So we're going to be talking a little bit about the over the period of times we're finding that that labor is a very tight commodity. And yet companies need to keep going. And companies need to keep their doors open. And company needs to continue to deliver good customer service and survive in this particular unique market that we find ourselves in. And of course, the conversation has to revolve around autonomous vehicles, what do we do within the warehouse? And how do we create a safer environment of course. So john and and team Balyo have a great solution. But we definitely talk about a lot of stuff that's associated with the market today. So with that said, Here's john. JOHN, welcome to the industrial talk, podcast absolute honor that you have joined and start to share your wisdom and insights with the listeners of industrial talk. How you doing?
John Hayes 03:35
Very well, thanks for having me on today. Thank you very, very cool,
Scott MacKenzie 03:38
man. I'm gonna enjoy this particular, you know, conversation, because it's really wrapped around and listeners, we're going to be talking a little bit about sort of that lack of labor that exists within today's market and sort of this push for autonomous or automatic vehicles. And then Fortunately for us, john with Balyo sort of understands that particular topic. But before we get going, give us a little background on who you are.
John Hayes 04:05
Well, thank you very much. I hope I have some knowledge and background I started in 1993. In the industry, yeah, I'm old. That's right. I'm getting gray.
Scott MacKenzie 04:19
Hair I don't.
John Hayes 04:22
I started way back then started building vehicles and then went on site to install. And then from there, I was lucky enough to be kind of adopted by this industry. It was a very, very small industry in 93. And most of those folks that I work with moved on to other companies and as did I and jumped back in finishing after I got back from a project in Japan, and sent a resume to a company that happened to have probably four or five people that I was in Japan with that was another AGV company. And it just grew from there moved into sales. Then from sales and applications, engineering into More of a strategic role. Vice President of Sales and Marketing, I think that marketing is a strong component of what we do as well. And then Director of Sales here at Balyo. So I've been, unfortunately, I've been around if you say they've been around for quite some time through the HGTV concept, and now into the EMR world, and you know, some differences, the concepts are still the same, there is still moving product from point A to point B, there's a lot of technology that we talk about, you know, this is different how this works, and those sorts of things. But in the end, I think that customers or users really only care, and can really only afford to care that things get from point A to point B efficiently. And they don't have to worry about it, why put a system in, that's going to be more problems than it's worth.
Scott MacKenzie 05:46
Yeah, for, for the listeners to define AGV.
John Hayes 05:50
And Mr. absolutely happy to do that. So he is he is kind of the catch all term that's been around for ages. And it stands for automatic guided vehicle. And you know, that goes back to the 50s. Really, a very early system, I believe Barrett was the first company that put one of those in on wires. And the fundamental principle of AGV is that path follows. So if you think about the earliest vehicle, it just ran, it had a sensor under the vehicle that looked for the wire in the floor, so the frequency frequency generator and for that frequency, but conceptually, they all do exactly that same thing today, even though most of them are virtual, using something called laser guidance using laser triangulation, they still do virtually the same thing. Now Amr is a new concept, which stands for automated or autonomous mobile robot. Really, it's a technology difference. And then it's highlighted by the way that it gets from point A to point B autonomous mobile robots path plan versus path follow. So that whole concept going back to the 50s with the wiring the floor, has been turned on this year. So use a similar technology, sensor base, much more sensor, which has a lot more sensors on the vehicle, but the vehicle itself maps its environment and then understands where it's at, and doesn't follow a defined path. It creates its own path now many companies constrain them but really that's the difference. One path plans a Mars path plan and agvs path follow. Now there are shades of grey and companies are starting to overlap AGV companies are being more Amr like but they in principle, that's really the what makes them different.
Scott MacKenzie 07:34
So why is this important? What why the why is this tech important with the industry?
Scott MacKenzie 07:39
John Hayes 07:42
agvs have historically been very custom. So most vendors would build a custom vehicle every single time for every single customer. And the integration was difficult installation and integration because it required that line in the floor, keeping in mind that it doesn't really exist that much anymore. But it meant a lot more time in the field. So they were expensive. At the root of it, they were expensive, is the shifting to a Amar began a few years back probably 10 or more years ago with respect to ACD vendors putting controls on that we haven't vehicles ever again, being vehicles being high street Ale, which is one of the companies we use lambda in Europe, those types of vehicles platforms and putting controls on them. And then the structure of going to a controls platform that didn't require infrastructure. So that wire in the floor or the targets or those sorts of things, that concept called slam and stands for simultaneous location and mapping, and almost masters of infrastructure for use that concept. What highlight said is the fact that it's inexpensive, because we don't need anything to Matt, I mean, we use the vehicle to map the facility, we don't need any infrastructure. And the systems become smarter and smarter. So as time went on, the systems become smarter and smarter, the tech gets better. But there's a trade off, as with anything, right? That new tech is still It has great promise. But it's not as stable. It's not as accurate, generally speaking, and it's not as fast as AGV technology. So it's almost like going to you take the car concept. You've got gas powered cars, right. And you could have a drag race gas powered car, you know, like the john Porsche concept of drag car. You can have an electric car. Obviously electric car is more technologically advanced. But right now there's no drag race, electric car, maybe in the future, right? So to draw an analogy, that's kind of where we're at You can, you can have a Cadillac of a system that, you know, you can trust with an AGP concept. We'll just do the job all day long, it's a little more expensive, maybe in some ways a little, you know, maybe has a little bit more maintenance because of the awkward equipment. But you know, it works. And then there's the other side. And then there's the far side is the tech of the situation, the the tech, the Amr, Amr tech in and of itself, with respect to some of the applications suitability is great, because it doesn't require high accuracy, and it doesn't require high speed. And when I say that application will make it more clear, picking applications where people walking along, or being what we call, picking those say, in an area in the vehicles will come to them. And they will place something in the bins, that doesn't require an awful lot of speed. It doesn't require an awful lot of accuracy. A lot of integration work. But you know, that's expected across the spectrum. But when you start to get into the middle ground, and then moving over to speed and efficiency, that's where the Tech has promised. But it's not totally there yet. So you know, you're just not quite yet. Okay, this
Scott MacKenzie 11:17
is all great. Well, what problems are we solving? What What is the problem that's demanding this?
John Hayes 11:24
Well, taking tech out of it, and let's just look at it as an industry. Historically, going back many years, the problem we were solving was one of our ally, it was one where you erred on the side of the company every single time, which was, I would theoretically talk to someone about, well, we could take a person off of a forklift, and that would save you X number of dollars a year. And in order to do this project, you will need to remove this many people. And you will get what you call her rate. Typical hurdle rates in the US are 18 months or two years. So it's always been at that point about ROI. And it's completely changed. So what are we solving today, I'm driving down the highway and you'll see manufacturing plants and distribution plants with banners hanging outside now hiring. And what we're solving is an inability for businesses to find people to move product. And it is a it's a real problem. And it's one that exists this move the needle for this type of equipment, it's it's wildly popular now used to be new people were looking at moving around autonomously and would back away like what in the world am I seeing here is becoming more adopted. The ability just to get Labor has eclipsed nearly any other reasons, purchases, equipment, safety is still a reasoning, certainly. But it's the ability just to find someone. And then when you do so we did a project a couple of years back for a large shipper. And everybody knows who the big two are, it was one of those. And they said that, you know, we're looking at this project because our turnover is over 100%
Scott MacKenzie 13:11
hold a turnover a people,
John Hayes 13:14
turnover of people over 100%. So what what they say, what they said they were seeing is that one of the larger companies put a put a warehouse distribution center and down the road, and people were getting paid a little bit more problem and went down the street. And you can't blame a forklift operator, he's making X number of dollars an hour, if he's going to get a nickel dime, quarter dollar an hour more, he's going to go down the street, that's what's going to happen. But you know, one of the things that I found funny is they would say, Well, you know, eventually they come back because we pay them to come back here, but didn't have you know, you have resources bouncing back and forth and those things. And when you think about trying to run a business, when your primary concern is moving product from either a manufacturing line or through a distribution center, your primary resource is the movement is that person or that equipment. So it's gotten to the point where when you have that risk, you have to find a way to mitigate it. And that's really what we're what it's coming down to. So that I think that's the problem that we're solving today. It's interesting.
Scott MacKenzie 14:24
Yeah, it's interesting, because I would imagine a lot of these distribution centers are not located where there's a big pool of skilled individuals. So that's also a problem, correct?
John Hayes 14:40
It's not, you know, it's funny. If you think about a forklift driver, we don't need a Harvard graduate to drive a forklift and god knows what the savvy ones are the ones that do look at the guy who just moved across the street, and take that Our our network over there. And and the ones that stay. And frankly, any forklift driver, when you look at the safety aspect, the number of injuries for forklift drivers is quite high. Simply because driving a forklift is not the most gentle thing on your body, you know, you're driving, in some cases, a 10,000 pound vehicle around, that's bouncing off of, you know, expansion joints and holes in the floor, or maybe running into things. So you have a lot of injury, you have a lot of those things, which obviously drives your costs up for, you know, insurance as well as workers comp and those things. So, you know, it's even though they may not be, you know, the Harvard grads of the world, they're getting hurt. And if you can find a way to not get hurt, then that's obviously a beneficial thing. And I think that my message has always been, you know, we don't want to put people out of work, what we want is a benefit, mutually beneficial position for these folks, I think, at least I think I would, I don't know that I wouldn't want a mindless job, or I was driving back and forth. Some of these distribution centers are 200 or 2 million square feet. Yeah, they're driving, you know, a half a mile. And by the end of this their day, they're, they're thinking about anything, but what's going on in the plant. So I think that having the ability to move folks into a position where they can do stuff with their mind versus just driving a vehicle over and over and over again, the same path, can you imagine, you know, eight hours a day, you drive the same path over and over and over again, we mean, people run into things because they just get tired mentally, they get tired, worn out at the end of the day, mentally more than physically.
Scott MacKenzie 16:50
And I would imagine the same thing exists, there's a greater demand concept.
Scott MacKenzie 16:55
It's there's an increased demand to I I see it out there, that there's just more movement of products. And this, this, this logistics backbone is becoming more and more important, and creating more and more demand on that. That professional that is just driving that, that forklift around. And I like the point that you talk about safety, you're absolutely spot on. I think that there's business continuity.
John Hayes 17:25
Scott MacKenzie 17:27
And and, and you're sure you're hitting on some great, great points. With With that said,
John Hayes 17:33
Scott MacKenzie 17:35
what's the biggest pushback here? I mean, it makes sense.
John Hayes 17:40
Well, it's still a bit of black magic, and it is still a bit expensive, um, the pushback has been reduced greatly, mostly because of what's been termed the, you know, the Amazon effect. And I am part of it, and I bet you're a part of it as well. We had a conversation the other day, and you say, go get these headphones, because they're, you know, they're gonna work very well. But guess where I'm from? I'm from Amazon. There's an Amazon distribution center, I'm outside with Virginia, it's more than 50 miles from here. And with the truck stuff that we talked about a few minutes ago, the over the road, trucking that they can only do eight hours a day. Well, they pop distribution centers up around larger cities. So you're right, that the regular desire and need for automation means more people, more people harder to get. So by proxy, the automated equipment becomes more and more in demand and favorable. I think that it's it's not black magic any longer. The costs have come down. But even so, if you look at the paradigm, us versus Europe, the hurdle rate, or the internal rate of return for Europe, in many cases is five years or more. In the US early on, in conversations about this equipment, we're looking at 18 months to two years, which means that really we're looking at two or three shift operations and sometimes for it's a no brainer for three or four shift operations just makes because we're providing the vehicles that operate on all four shifts with no people if you thought about that very same operation, you have four times the number of people so the numbers start to make make a lot of sense. I think that we're personally I think this will start to make a lot of more beneficial use. We talked about this internally Balyo the other day, you know how do we kind of work towards being a more we're all responsible company I guess is the best way to say it. My view is when we can take this equipment and mom and pop companies can have Third, to take a piece of automated equipment and grow their business, then they can compete with and I don't want to, say, the Amazons of the world, but I think you kind of see where I'm going with it, they can grow their business without having to add the expense of, you know, multi shift operations they can grow and, you know, moving people again into this more mutually beneficial roles, you know, running a machine or working on things, or there's things that use your mind when when we can take this concept and it becomes less the purview of Fortune 100 companies, and becomes more available to mom and pop. I think that everybody's going to be a lot happier with what with what we can do in this world. But you know, it's still expensive equipment, expensive, the sensor basis, something else,
Scott MacKenzie 20:48
but you're getting there. I mean, yeah, continue.
John Hayes 20:55
Yeah, the tech, when we talked about Amr, originally, you talked about the Gulf of differences, you know, the cost for EMRs are less expensive than average. And almost all cases, and the costs are coming down. Now, one of the things that we're seeing is, the average used to be kind of built jack of all trades. And that was the expectation that I could buy an ATV and it would do just anything, you know, where it could pick from the floor and put something in a rack 30 feet tall. But if you reset your expectations of what automation can do, and you're smart, start small. This stuff can be inexpensive. So you know, you pick something very simple to automate, you don't have to start. And frankly, I recommend that you don't start with a 3030 vehicle system that's super complex, the rapid pace of change within your organization would be head snap, and you would you you entire organization would be turned upside down quickly. The thing that the new tech is allowing us to do is do things like proof of concepts and those things where we can come in and put a single vehicle system in and show you in your organization, how that works, what the process changes might need to be and how to get used to them before rolling out more and more vehicles. So most all of our aging VA Mr. Brother, brother in reports to the MH I used to be called MH I think it's called MH II now material handling industry of America. And so the numbers used to be represent we would all report our numbers. In on average, the average AGV system was about five to seven vehicles. And the reason for that was just the three line items outside of the hardware, which was engineering, installation and integration. That was the time on site really. And you had to amortize that over the vehicle cost and five to seven just happened to be the sweet spot where it started to make return on investment sense, right? The new tech allows us to put vehicles in for a much lower number so people can now afford to put a single vehicle system in and learn from it. So the tech is pushing all of us forward. It really is.
Scott MacKenzie 23:04
I like it and the what stands out would be that incremental approach, even proof of concept it I think that's great. It doesn't have to be big bang, you don't have to dig a trench of some sort. It's it doesn't have to be that complex. Now we're gonna have to wrap this conversation up. JOHN, how does somebody get a hold of you?
Scott MacKenzie 23:26
I think the best case scenario would be to reach out via the internet. That's Balyo comm www.meliar.com. And you'll be able to reach out to us as a company there. My personal email address is certainly available. That's john dot Hayes ha ye s Balyo COMM And I'd be more than happy to help. I tend to take a more consultative approach to everything that I do so pretty little to salesy with me. So I'm more than happy to just chat with people if it's something they'd like to talk about.
Scott MacKenzie 23:53
And if you type in john Hayes, if this just blows me away on on LinkedIn, you've got john Hayes. I was looking at him going, and I saw john Hayes 7953 blah, blah. No, that's impressive.
John Hayes 24:17
Scott MacKenzie 24:18
All right, a couple of things that I want to put before you listeners, once again, I love the concept, and we've got the problem of up labor, we've got to be able to look at it from that. From the technology perspective, I think Valley has got an interesting value proposition. I like the fact that we're talking a little bit about the incremental approach. I think the future's bright when it comes to this and and I think if you're driving down the costs, and and trying to have that mom and pop mindset, I think you've got a great value proposition. I like it.
John Hayes 24:54
Thank you very much. All right, we're gonna wrap it up. I really appreciate you. Yeah, we're
Scott MacKenzie 24:58
gonna wrap it up on the other side. You're not go away. We will be right back. You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network. All right, that is john Hayes i t y e s and you definitely can go out to john hay. His Lincoln stack card is all out there and you know what? It is truly john Hayes h A y e. s. Balyo is the company go to be a lyo.com find out more about how those that solution and what they're doing. Balyo can definitely help you and your manufacturing process as well as your warehousing stuff. It's everything that's john right there, man. I'm looking at it as that card right there. JOHN, good looking guy with the beard can't miss. Alright, once again, we are talking about industrial talk to Dotto. This is where you're going to go this is where you're going to go. You're going to go to educate, you're going to go to collaborate and you're going to glue to innovate. We are all bound together without a doubt. We have ties, every industry whatever it is, let me Valley Oh man, that's important stuff and they have ties to the warehousing and and the manufacturing world. important stuff. Reach out to him. All right. Thank you very much. Be bold, be brave, dare greatly you change the world. Thank you very much for joining the industrial talk podcast. We will be right back