Mike Kotzian with Kivnon

On this week's Industrial Talk we're talking to Mike Kotzian, Managing Director – USA for Kivnon about “Simple Automated Guided Solutions”.  Get the answers to your “AGV” questions along with Mike's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

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Company LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/kivnon/

Company Website: https://kivnon.com/

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PODCAST TRANSCRIPT:

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

company, solution, people, industrial, conversation, vehicles, units, mike, simple, hardhat, automated, technology, safety, easy, big, important, software, event, amr, industry

00:00

On this episode of industrial talk, we're talking about simple, automated guided vehicle solutions. Now, I'm all about simple as you can imagine, and we're talking to Mike Kotzian. And he is with Kivnon. We're gonna just don't have to lay the lumber of why this is so important. Let's get going.

00:24

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 hardhat, grab your work boots, and let's go Oh, looky,

00:42

looky, we're back. We're back celebrating new industrial heroes all around the world. Because you are bold, you are brave, you're daring greatly. You're solving problems. Yeah, you're collaborating? Absolutely. And you're making my lives and the lives of many around the world better. Wow. That's why we celebrate you on this particular podcast, as mentioned, my cop scenes in the hot seat, give nine is the company. And you know, we're just talking about automated vehicles. But for me, personally, simple is better. So let's get cracking. I'm all about simple. I think if you make things difficult for people to understand, they're not gonna they're not gonna listen to you. I think if you make it difficult to try to deploy something, you're not going to have great success. Because I think that, especially now and I think where innovation is heading, I think innovation is has been heading to the point where the end user is just paramount. Simple is better, getting it in the hands of the the frontline people or wherever it's supposed to get in the hands of. And if you make that solution, easy, powerful and usable. You've got a success model right there, baby. And I think there are many companies out there that are really working hard and diligently on doing that. All right. On the calendar, I want to be able to sort of pump an event that I think that you need to go to. It is the IoT solutions World Congress event it is in Barcelona, it is May 10 through the 12th. And you're saying Scott, why do I want to do that? You want to do it, because it's important for us to get back to whatever that next normal is. And that means face to face conversation, a little bit of human interaction, get more done when you're, you know, you're right there face to face, looking right at the individual. That is a great event, because of COVID hadn't been there for a couple years. Of course, like many haven't. But it's in Barcelona and my recommendation, my TED hardhat recommendation, IoT solutions World Congress is where it's at another point, one conference to Dotto, you're saying to yourself, Scott, what is that I'm tired of, you know, all of the number dot O type of solutions, but this one's different. And the reason is, is that if we are to get together, get back together, get get sort of the, you know, the blending of both the virtual important, we're all working from our home, and just it's just the way the world is going right now. But I think real successful companies are going to be focused on that real human interaction, whatever that takes that face to face human interaction. And I think events such as IoT solutions, world, Congress and others, are just absolutely great at that. Now, what do I mean by No, I think God are the days of, you know, prepaid debit, we'd go to these events just because it was in our budget, and we'd go there, drink some good cocktails and eat some great food and Yuk it up with people at the event. But really did things really get progressed, I think that we need to start thinking of these events as real strategic engagement engagements. And to be able to do that we have to really plan. There's like a pre plan our meetings, plan, our connections, plan on the, for lack of a better term, the prospects we want to get in front of, and then there's the the during, right, you're going to sit there and you got your stuff all laid out. You're going to be talking about it, you've got that conversation happening. And then of course, one of the most important components of course, is the post and that is the follow up. That's the nurturing and that's what you need to do. But it requires a lot of effort to get to those those three steps. Now. I call it conference to Dotto because what I do here at industrial talk is this ecosystem that is being created with Great companies great leaders, is that

05:04

we create that whole strategy in the beginning, get people on the podcast, get people sponsoring, get people having that conversation and highlighting, right, highlighting what they are doing, highlighting that subject matter, get it going, have that conversation, create that relationship, that friendship, and be able to have that asset that, that interview that that conversation asset. And during the conference, we're there on site, man, this is on site, boom, we're working. And we're interviewing the best, the best that these companies have to offer. But the most important component is after and you know, we'll create a video and we'll create all the great content, the interviewing content, the media content, everything there from the event, fun stuff. It's all fun, it better be fun. It better be entertaining, right? Oh, you're not gonna listen to it. You're not even gonna watch it. Why would you watch it? So that's our model. But the best part about it is after the fact, this is where you begin to nurture. This is where you begin to collaborate. This is where you begin to begin to develop those real meaningful relationships, the friendships that come out as a result of these events. Important, but you got to keep at it. You can't let it go. And but I'm going to just sort of throw a little wrinkle in there. Yeah, you've got a great solution. Don't get me wrong, great solution, thumbs up everything all fine and dandy with that. But how about it, if you take this approach, if you're truly destined, you're truly passionate, if you're truly committed to the, your, your existing customer, or your prospects success? That to me is a collaborative conversation. Sure, I could say, Hey, I do this. But I think that we don't have all the answers. And if I'm looking for solutions, and I have an idea that, you know, company, a over here has the right solutions for you. I better I better have the integrity and the the the moral fortitude to say, hey, company, I, you need to go over here. I think they have the the solutions. I think each conference needs to go by that model. To to get the most out of all the engagements, we just have to be able to get that this this. This ecosystem, the industrial talk ecosystem is focused on getting the most out of and fill in the blank, and doing it the best possible way and adjusting to get the most out of conferences, to get the most out of connections to get the most out of whatever it might be. I think that that is key to your marketing, and sales, focus and strategy. How about that for a rant? Do it pre during post, get engaged, face to face solutions? collaboration, innovation? It's all there and make it doggone fun. And entertaining. There. That's it. Kip not. I'm interested in the automated solution, right? And these vehicles that are autumn autonomous and automated and doing work. I always had the thinking that oh, what is that gonna do to dig up my floor, you got to do certain things. Give not has a great solution. Simple. You can you can tip your little toesies in the cold water and say hey, alright, here we go. We're gonna just start out small. And then that scale from there. I'm always about that incremental approach right now, especially when it comes to innovation technology. And and finding people you can trust. That's a big one. Mike, give not you can trust them. They've got the TED hardhat approval from me or industrial talk. So enjoy the conversation. Mike, welcome to industrial talk. Thank you very much for tight, finding time in your busy schedule to talk to the best listeners around the world. And that is industrial talk. How're you doing

09:16

today? Really good. Scott. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

09:20

I'm telling you, I'm excited about this conversation. I'm always I'm always excited about all the conversations I believe industry is is is what's going to help us get through all of this stuff, whatever this stuff is, whatever pain you're feeling, industry, whatever challenge you're dealing with people industry. There you go. That's a plug to you. Okay. All right. For the listeners out there. Give us a little background little 411 on who Mike is. Yeah, sure. So

09:47

I'm Mike Kotze. And I'm the Managing Director for kivinen canines and AGV company automated guided Vehicle Company. I've been doing automated guided vehicles for 24 years now. I'm an ATV guy. That's that's what I that's what I know. That's what I do. So yeah, so

10:04

can you I know I have to interrupt real quick, just so you've seen a change quite a bit. 24 years, I didn't know it was around that long.

10:13

So that's what's funny is actually it's been around a lot longer than that. The EGP was invented in 1954 by Arthur, Mac Barrett and Illinois. It was called the guide ematic. And he started a company called electronics. And actually, you can still see some of those units run rolling around today from the early 80s Barrett electronics. Wow, that

10:33

is pretty doggone cool. Love the history. And you're a history buff. I like that. Now, let's get into the interview. Let's get into the conversation. Okay, what's the problem? What, why is AGV? What is the problem we're trying to deal with? And what are we trying to solve?

10:50

Yeah, I mean, I just I just looked actually, before we talked, because I think there's roughly 11 million job openings in the United States right now. I think there's somewhere around 6 million people in unemployment. So I mean, you do the math, right? We're trying to get, you know, there's all these supply chain issues, right? There's, you know, workforce issues. I mean, everybody's facing it, right. So AGVs is an option right now, to automate processes, whether it's simple or complex, we're, you know, traditionally, maybe you would have had a tiger driver or a person doing it. And maybe, actually, if you're running 24/7, you would have had three or four people doing it, you know, over a week, a week span, and you can do it with AGVs, automatically. No, right. So, I mean, I think, years past, we were fighting the issue of maybe, let's say, replacing jobs, but I think right now, you know, that conversation is long gone.

11:45

And you know, what's interesting, I'm not, I'm not gonna sit there and get all political, I don't understand why. Why there's such a disconnect between unemployment and, and, and these job openings, maybe, I don't know, but people who complain about their job being automated or something going away. I mean, this is the real, this is the reality of, of what's taking place out in the market. I've got to keep my doors open. I've got to figure out a solution. I can't find people to do the job. Whatever that problem is, I've got to do something. And I like that, because that the the AGV it's not just warehouse, right. It's in manufacturing. It's one of the applications of these automated guided vehicles.

12:32

Yeah, so I mean, it's, it's, it's pretty broad. I mean, the the roots of ATVs is really strong in manufacturing, and really strong in automotive, to be honest. And I mean, that's kind of our bread and butter. I mean, we're moving, we're moving material, whether it's, you know, parts parts of a car, basically, to assemble a car, right, we're delivering, you know, headliners or years, different parts, right, you know, for you to deliver. But you know, that there is a lot in warehousing and things like that as well. Right? It really depends. I mean, there's a lot of AGV companies out there. I like I said, I've been doing ATVs a long time. You know, there's a lot of food and beverage is huge, you know, but they're specific vehicles that fit for that, right. And then warehousing, right, so you see little AMRs autonomous mobile robots, you see AGVs, automated guided vehicles, AGCs carts, there's a lot of different names for them. And they, they all kind of fit differently, right? Whether you're an E commerce with an Amr, or whether you're in a big, you know, like a, you know, a beverage company we're using, like a big forklift style AGV or, you know, kind of more what we do is, is really strong in a lot of manufacturing where we're, we're delivering the parts to line to assemble a vehicle.

13:46

Amr clarify that real quick,

13:48

yep, that's an autonomous mobile robot. And, and I've said this before, there's, there is no governor of the AGV, a Yamaha or AGC space, right. So there is overlap, but I mean, there's AMR companies typically are smaller units. There's, there's quite a few out there. That's a newer, you know, newer kind of companies technology, Kiva was one of the bigger ones in 2014. I think Amazon bought bought Kiva. And that was sort of revolutionary in terms of, you know, the technology what they were doing goods to person for E commerce and, you know, Amazon bought the company rather than continue to source from them

14:29

that night. Why not?

14:33

It also made it so that their competitors, you know, couldn't have it right. But so, you know, that's the AMR space autonomous mobile robots, and those are smaller units. And those are more goods to person, you'll see that a lot more in E commerce.

14:45

So if I'm a manufacturer, and I'm struggling, just to reality, I'm struggling to find resources. My line is being hampered. And I'm overworking the existing resources that I do have just because I have to What is the typical financial return on investment for your solution or any solutions that's associated with AGV?

15:12

Yeah, I mean, so that's, and I've seen that sir, sort of changed a little bit over the years to in terms of, you know, there used to be really strict ROI, maybe if some of the automotive companies might have like a one year payback, and that was really always difficult to to achieve. So, I mean, with the simpler solutions with the AGCs, which is more like kind of our style, like I said, automated guided carts, kind of like they're smaller units. And in manufacturing, it's, it's easier now to get a one to two year, you know, return on your investment, you know, a lot of the bigger units and things like that it's a little more difficult. And it depends, too, if you're running like 24/7, that's, we kind of always have this sort of red light, yellow light, green light. So like, if you're running one shift, and you're like a low wage rate, that's really difficult to get a payback. But if you're running, you know, three to four shifts, let's say full time 24/7, especially in high wage rate areas, it's really easy to get, you know, one to two year pay.

16:09

It's interesting. Yeah, I never thought of it that way. You're right. If you're just if you're a nine to five type of business. Yeah, no, that's it. That's a tough one. But if you're around the clock, hi, wait, that's interesting. Now, we've got carts, we've got robots, and we've got vehicles. That's what I've heard so far. Yep. Yeah. The, the question I would have, if I was evaluating whether I need to go around, down the road of automation is, do I? Do I look at my business in such a way that I can say, Okay, here's, here's my entry level I want to deal with here. But then, you know, maybe three or four years from now, I want to be up here? Is it scalable, easily scalable?

16:57

Yeah, for sure. For sure. AGVs. For me, I've always said, because I've worked at some bigger companies, where we did large $40 million integrated systems, right, and AGVs it's an entry level into automation. I mean, you can do $100,000, you know, to vehicle system and, and get into automation, that'll, you know, a low price point. And then yeah, I mean, you you can scale in terms of adding vehicles and, and expanding, and then on the software side, too, you can a lot of times, it depends on the company, you know, but you can start at sort of an A to B push button, let's say, you know, two vehicles back and forth from A to B, you can eventually, you know, maybe have a 1015 vehicle system that you're actually doing a lot more on the software side, like maybe managing the inventory, your the locations are doing some more decision making and things like that.

17:46

So just keep an eye on provide the software component.

17:50

Yeah, so our AGVs all have PLCs. Onboard, typically, which is a little unique in the industry gives a lot more flexibility. A lot of a lot of companies have industrial PCs on board. But then in terms of, you know, from the software side, like I said, you can start from just a simple push button back and forth type unit in our system, let's say and then you can kind of have maybe mid level where you're maybe managing a location or to like, you know, especially with manufacturing, like you, typically you're delivering a full, right, and then you grab the empty, right, that's, that's real typical in the industry. So, you know, the AGV system can kind of make that decision of okay, here, I dropped and so then I pick from here, next time I drop here and pick from basic right now we're starting to grow up the software a little bit. And then that can actually get all the way to where you're, you know, either interfacing or actually working like a WMS or, you know, a WBS or something like that.

18:47

Bu am as b s warehouse management, software management software, and then WBS

18:58

WBS. When execution software, I'm not a software guy, I say this all the time engineer, but yeah, that's the software side, you can really start to grow. And most companies have their own WMS already, right? Yeah. Something but so you can interface with that. That's pretty common to interface with it. And then sometimes you can kind of function as one gray as well, if it's, you know, maybe a smaller area, you know, not that many locations.

19:28

So I'm, I'm, I'm interested in the the to cart solution. And I like your price point. I'm interested in that that'll on tip in my dipping my toes into the water of automation. I say yes. Give me the time. That and I I understand it's there's a swag here but generally speaking, time to actually implementation and execution.

19:58

Yeah, so right now for our standard units for Something like that it would be around six months, which, I mean, there's a lot of supply chain issues, we're not immune to that. But, you know, our operations director did a really good job. Kind of planning ahead. And with our, with our standard units, you know, as little as six months, you know, depending on the system, I mean, you know, some units might be up to nine months for a system, some still within a year.

20:24

But do I have to? How do these units are guided on the floor?

20:34

Yes, our units are typical, our magnetic tape, which is, you know, it's it's a I don't see down and dirty technology has been around for quite a while. It's easy, it's a, it's a, it's a less expensive navigation technology, there's RFID tags on the side that kind of give it you know, sort of the decision making them slow down, go charge speed of change scanner things. But, you know, you lay the tape on the floor, we also have infrastructure free, they call it mapping. It's basically a slam technology that uses the environment as well. We have some of those units as well. But I mean, our, like I said, our bread and butter is sort of the, you know, more industrial mouse style AGVs that are running on a magnetic tape,

21:17

saying I like that I like the magnetic tape just because I, let's say, Today, my four looks like this, whatever this is, and I'm running some tape down here. And then tomorrow, I get a great contract that requires me to modify my floor, plan my layout, then I can feel comfortable knowing that it's just tape. It's not something that goes right into the concrete. And it's there forever. So it has some flexibility that I like, I'm always about flexibility, but that and I would imagine, you could say, Yeah, okay, I see your shift in your floor. So what we'll do is we'll lay this out, we'll just we'll do it this way. And so your, your implementation is quicker, too, as well.

22:03

Yeah, the tape is easy. You mean it's it's cheap. You know? Yeah, there's, there's other companies I worked at that use it as well. I mean, it's, you can put protective cover on it, you can epoxy, it becomes a little more permanent that point. But yes, I mean, you can in, you know, on demand, you can sort of lay tape and like, make a why and make it turn this way. I mean, it's, uh, you know, I've seen it many, many times, you know, it's really easy to modify. It's Hot Wheels. Yeah, sure, you can change the tracks change the track, I see my six year old daughter do it, Claire, she's on track.

22:37

I wanted to go around this now. Exactly. Which is not bad. It's not a bad idea. I like that. And it allows me to get my my foot in the door of automation, and see the value the benefits. And and see from an I'm a firm believer that if you're not in the game, and you're not thinking about it, you don't know the questions to ask you don't know what you're trying to use the technology for. So get in the game, I see that that is, is a vital component. Now, there's always roadblocks I get it. I can automate. That's great. I'm dealing with some resource challenges. Yes, that's reality of it. But what are the roadblocks? What are we talking about? What What prevents people from going that way?

23:20

Yeah, so we always try to identify those early too, right. So it, it can be an issue. So I always recommend people to get their IT group involved early because that can be a roadblock if they don't want you to VPN in or be on the network, different things like that. So if you're a company that's, you know, trying to implement AGVs definitely get your IT people on board early, let them know what you're doing. That always helps safety is another big one, right? So if you've got a big safety department group, they need to know, you know, if they don't know about AGVs, if you have an enemy for them, you know, that's a lot of times a stumbling block. If, if you've got a big safety crew, and they've already, you know, you've got multiple sites with ATVs, it's a lot easier. So you definitely want to get safety involved as well. I mean, those are the other issues.

24:04

What are the safety concerns? I have to pull on that string? What is that?

24:08

Yeah, safety is huge. I mean, safety for ATVs is huge. And I mean, and there has been a ton of developments over the years to make them safer and safer and safer. The safety spec that basically governs AGVs and CB 56.5 That's that's the main safety spec. It I don't want to say it's sort of a minimal safety spec. I mean, it kind of it still makes vehicle safe and solution safe. But there's responsibility on both parts. It's not just the AGV company has responsibility that the company implementing the AGVs has their own responsibility as well. Whether to train the operators how to be around and put put signs up things like that. They have some they have a lot of responsibilities. Yeah, come on.

24:55

I mean, I get it and you're in the business. The AGV companies are in a bit have definitely delivering a solution to a problem. And if if safety is a challenge, you're gonna, you're gonna build it in there, you're gonna have to, you're gonna have to figure that out, or nobody's gonna use your product. And people are getting run over by your, your, your product, nobody will like that. No better. Sure. So I do like that. So we've got it issues. How many times I have that conversation? roadblocks, it just happens all the time. Okay. Yeah, you're not immune to it either. It sounds to me that it's important to get the sort of leadership involved to say, this is where we need to go, this is the strategic direction we are heading. And this is why it's important. And then as probably deals with a lot of the other internal resistance to be able to, you know, deploy the solution.

25:59

Yeah, yeah, you got, I mean, it depends to a bigger company, when corporate let's say, has a plan to put AGVs in, it goes down to the plant level, you still got to get plant level buy in right, either, you know, from the operations managers and the plant manager, people, it's, I've seen it, I've seen struggles a little bit where there's sort of a corporate mandate, right? Nobody likes, you know, at the plant level to hear that if they're not worried. So, no, but it is it does definitely help to have executive sponsorship, especially executives and corporate people that have had experience with them, let's say from another company, right? And they're rolling into a different company bringing their expertise and say, Hey, this is what we did. You know? So

26:36

I'll tell you one, one word, Amazon, Amazon's all in. If Amazon's all in and I know that I use Amazon, you need to consider doing the same thing. You need to figure this out. If they're in. They've got a competitive advantage. It's, it's obvious. Yeah. So you know, make it happen. All right. So what we have is we've got sort of a six month for a simple type of solution. We're looking at cards. Is it scalable? Yes. And I just, I love the I love the approach. Now. Just remember, we've got a couple of issues that have to be addressed. That's it, as well as safety. But I think that that those are two issues that can be overcome. And just remember, once again, Amazon, all right, my academy people get a hold of you insane. This is cool conversation. I want to get a hold of Mike.

27:27

Yeah, for sure. For sure. So you can find me on LinkedIn for sure. Kip nine, you can find us Kip nine.com. And you can follow Kevin on USA on Twitter.

27:36

All right, that's Mike Kotzen. That's coyote Zian. KYV, non ki V and O. N is the company. Once again, LinkedIn. God bless me. Because you can always find their stat card out somebody stat card out there, get a little flavor, find the website can do all of that. All right. That was an excellent conversation there. Mike. Appreciate your time.

28:04

Awesome, Scott. I can always talk AGVs

28:09

See, I think it's so cool. I don't know, man. It's a it's a it's an odd time. I mean, I I can geek out. I'm a fan of Discovery Channel and, and Smithsonian channel, and they do all of that garbage.

28:22

I love that. And I always like being able to talk to somebody about it besides my wife cuz she's tired of hearing about it. So yeah, I hear Yeah. Hey, did you know that we could do it here?

28:34

I'm going Oh, cool. All right. Thank you, Mike. All right, listeners. We're not we're gonna have all the links and contact information for from Mike out on industrial talk.com. So stay tuned. We will be right back.

28:49

You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.

28:59

All right. Ah, harder harder. Thank you to Mike for joining me. On the industrial talk podcast, Kivnon company. Simple is the best way that I can possibly sum up the conversation. automated vehicles simple. Yeah. Reach out. Great stat card out on LinkedIn. You will not be disappointed. Again. 10 hardhat, approval, trusted, trusted individual. You won't be disappointed. All right. May 10 to 12 IoT solutions World Congress, Barcelona. Barcelona is great. No, no doubt about that. Let's get back to normal. Let's get back to that next normal. Let's get get engaged. Let's look at those face to face conversations and make it meaningful. Make it get the most out of your conferences. Get the most out of your engagements. That's what we're all about here at industrial talk. Go to that event. Great. Great. All right, people be brave dare greatly hang out with Mike Bold brave and Daring Greatly you're going to change the world thank you very much for joining we're gonna have another conversation Great One.

Transcript

00:00

On this episode of industrial talk, we're talking about simple, automated guided vehicle solutions. Now, I'm all about simple as you can imagine, and we're talking to Mike Kotzian. And he is with Kivnon. We're gonna just don't have to lay the lumber of why this is so important. Let's get going.

00:24

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 hardhat, grab your work boots, and let's go Oh, looky,

00:42

looky, we're back. We're back celebrating new industrial heroes all around the world. Because you are bold, you are brave, you're daring greatly. You're solving problems. Yeah, you're collaborating? Absolutely. And you're making my lives and the lives of many around the world better. Wow. That's why we celebrate you on this particular podcast, as mentioned, my cop scenes in the hot seat, give nine is the company. And you know, we're just talking about automated vehicles. But for me, personally, simple is better. So let's get cracking. I'm all about simple. I think if you make things difficult for people to understand, they're not gonna they're not gonna listen to you. I think if you make it difficult to try to deploy something, you're not going to have great success. Because I think that, especially now and I think where innovation is heading, I think innovation is has been heading to the point where the end user is just paramount. Simple is better, getting it in the hands of the the frontline people or wherever it's supposed to get in the hands of. And if you make that solution, easy, powerful and usable. You've got a success model right there, baby. And I think there are many companies out there that are really working hard and diligently on doing that. All right. On the calendar, I want to be able to sort of pump an event that I think that you need to go to. It is the IoT solutions World Congress event it is in Barcelona, it is May 10 through the 12th. And you're saying Scott, why do I want to do that? You want to do it, because it's important for us to get back to whatever that next normal is. And that means face to face conversation, a little bit of human interaction, get more done when you're, you know, you're right there face to face, looking right at the individual. That is a great event, because of COVID hadn't been there for a couple years. Of course, like many haven't. But it's in Barcelona and my recommendation, my TED hardhat recommendation, IoT solutions World Congress is where it's at another point, one conference to Dotto, you're saying to yourself, Scott, what is that I'm tired of, you know, all of the number dot O type of solutions, but this one's different. And the reason is, is that if we are to get together, get back together, get get sort of the, you know, the blending of both the virtual important, we're all working from our home, and just it's just the way the world is going right now. But I think real successful companies are going to be focused on that real human interaction, whatever that takes that face to face human interaction. And I think events such as IoT solutions, world, Congress and others, are just absolutely great at that. Now, what do I mean by No, I think God are the days of, you know, prepaid debit, we'd go to these events just because it was in our budget, and we'd go there, drink some good cocktails and eat some great food and Yuk it up with people at the event. But really did things really get progressed, I think that we need to start thinking of these events as real strategic engagement engagements. And to be able to do that we have to really plan. There's like a pre plan our meetings, plan, our connections, plan on the, for lack of a better term, the prospects we want to get in front of, and then there's the the during, right, you're going to sit there and you got your stuff all laid out. You're going to be talking about it, you've got that conversation happening. And then of course, one of the most important components of course, is the post and that is the follow up. That's the nurturing and that's what you need to do. But it requires a lot of effort to get to those those three steps. Now. I call it conference to Dotto because what I do here at industrial talk is this ecosystem that is being created with Great companies great leaders, is that

05:04

we create that whole strategy in the beginning, get people on the podcast, get people sponsoring, get people having that conversation and highlighting, right, highlighting what they are doing, highlighting that subject matter, get it going, have that conversation, create that relationship, that friendship, and be able to have that asset that, that interview that that conversation asset. And during the conference, we're there on site, man, this is on site, boom, we're working. And we're interviewing the best, the best that these companies have to offer. But the most important component is after and you know, we'll create a video and we'll create all the great content, the interviewing content, the media content, everything there from the event, fun stuff. It's all fun, it better be fun. It better be entertaining, right? Oh, you're not gonna listen to it. You're not even gonna watch it. Why would you watch it? So that's our model. But the best part about it is after the fact, this is where you begin to nurture. This is where you begin to collaborate. This is where you begin to begin to develop those real meaningful relationships, the friendships that come out as a result of these events. Important, but you got to keep at it. You can't let it go. And but I'm going to just sort of throw a little wrinkle in there. Yeah, you've got a great solution. Don't get me wrong, great solution, thumbs up everything all fine and dandy with that. But how about it, if you take this approach, if you're truly destined, you're truly passionate, if you're truly committed to the, your, your existing customer, or your prospects success? That to me is a collaborative conversation. Sure, I could say, Hey, I do this. But I think that we don't have all the answers. And if I'm looking for solutions, and I have an idea that, you know, company, a over here has the right solutions for you. I better I better have the integrity and the the the moral fortitude to say, hey, company, I, you need to go over here. I think they have the the solutions. I think each conference needs to go by that model. To to get the most out of all the engagements, we just have to be able to get that this this. This ecosystem, the industrial talk ecosystem is focused on getting the most out of and fill in the blank, and doing it the best possible way and adjusting to get the most out of conferences, to get the most out of connections to get the most out of whatever it might be. I think that that is key to your marketing, and sales, focus and strategy. How about that for a rant? Do it pre during post, get engaged, face to face solutions? collaboration, innovation? It's all there and make it doggone fun. And entertaining. There. That's it. Kip not. I'm interested in the automated solution, right? And these vehicles that are autumn autonomous and automated and doing work. I always had the thinking that oh, what is that gonna do to dig up my floor, you got to do certain things. Give not has a great solution. Simple. You can you can tip your little toesies in the cold water and say hey, alright, here we go. We're gonna just start out small. And then that scale from there. I'm always about that incremental approach right now, especially when it comes to innovation technology. And and finding people you can trust. That's a big one. Mike, give not you can trust them. They've got the TED hardhat approval from me or industrial talk. So enjoy the conversation. Mike, welcome to industrial talk. Thank you very much for tight, finding time in your busy schedule to talk to the best listeners around the world. And that is industrial talk. How're you doing

09:16

today? Really good. Scott. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

09:20

I'm telling you, I'm excited about this conversation. I'm always I'm always excited about all the conversations I believe industry is is is what's going to help us get through all of this stuff, whatever this stuff is, whatever pain you're feeling, industry, whatever challenge you're dealing with people industry. There you go. That's a plug to you. Okay. All right. For the listeners out there. Give us a little background little 411 on who Mike is. Yeah, sure. So

09:47

I'm Mike Kotze. And I'm the Managing Director for kivinen canines and AGV company automated guided Vehicle Company. I've been doing automated guided vehicles for 24 years now. I'm an ATV guy. That's that's what I that's what I know. That's what I do. So yeah, so

10:04

can you I know I have to interrupt real quick, just so you've seen a change quite a bit. 24 years, I didn't know it was around that long.

10:13

that. The EGP was invented in:

10:33

is pretty doggone cool. Love the history. And you're a history buff. I like that. Now, let's get into the interview. Let's get into the conversation. Okay, what's the problem? What, why is AGV? What is the problem we're trying to deal with? And what are we trying to solve?

10:50

Yeah, I mean, I just I just looked actually, before we talked, because I think there's roughly 11 million job openings in the United States right now. I think there's somewhere around 6 million people in unemployment. So I mean, you do the math, right? We're trying to get, you know, there's all these supply chain issues, right? There's, you know, workforce issues. I mean, everybody's facing it, right. So AGVs is an option right now, to automate processes, whether it's simple or complex, we're, you know, traditionally, maybe you would have had a tiger driver or a person doing it. And maybe, actually, if you're running 24/7, you would have had three or four people doing it, you know, over a week, a week span, and you can do it with AGVs, automatically. No, right. So, I mean, I think, years past, we were fighting the issue of maybe, let's say, replacing jobs, but I think right now, you know, that conversation is long gone.

11:45

And you know, what's interesting, I'm not, I'm not gonna sit there and get all political, I don't understand why. Why there's such a disconnect between unemployment and, and, and these job openings, maybe, I don't know, but people who complain about their job being automated or something going away. I mean, this is the real, this is the reality of, of what's taking place out in the market. I've got to keep my doors open. I've got to figure out a solution. I can't find people to do the job. Whatever that problem is, I've got to do something. And I like that, because that the the AGV it's not just warehouse, right. It's in manufacturing. It's one of the applications of these automated guided vehicles.

12:32

Yeah, so I mean, it's, it's, it's pretty broad. I mean, the the roots of ATVs is really strong in manufacturing, and really strong in automotive, to be honest. And I mean, that's kind of our bread and butter. I mean, we're moving, we're moving material, whether it's, you know, parts parts of a car, basically, to assemble a car, right, we're delivering, you know, headliners or years, different parts, right, you know, for you to deliver. But you know, that there is a lot in warehousing and things like that as well. Right? It really depends. I mean, there's a lot of AGV companies out there. I like I said, I've been doing ATVs a long time. You know, there's a lot of food and beverage is huge, you know, but they're specific vehicles that fit for that, right. And then warehousing, right, so you see little AMRs autonomous mobile robots, you see AGVs, automated guided vehicles, AGCs carts, there's a lot of different names for them. And they, they all kind of fit differently, right? Whether you're an E commerce with an Amr, or whether you're in a big, you know, like a, you know, a beverage company we're using, like a big forklift style AGV or, you know, kind of more what we do is, is really strong in a lot of manufacturing where we're, we're delivering the parts to line to assemble a vehicle.

13:46

Amr clarify that real quick,

13:48

was one of the bigger ones in:

14:29

that night. Why not?

14:33

It also made it so that their competitors, you know, couldn't have it right. But so, you know, that's the AMR space autonomous mobile robots, and those are smaller units. And those are more goods to person, you'll see that a lot more in E commerce.

14:45

So if I'm a manufacturer, and I'm struggling, just to reality, I'm struggling to find resources. My line is being hampered. And I'm overworking the existing resources that I do have just because I have to What is the typical financial return on investment for your solution or any solutions that's associated with AGV?

15:12

Yeah, I mean, so that's, and I've seen that sir, sort of changed a little bit over the years to in terms of, you know, there used to be really strict ROI, maybe if some of the automotive companies might have like a one year payback, and that was really always difficult to to achieve. So, I mean, with the simpler solutions with the AGCs, which is more like kind of our style, like I said, automated guided carts, kind of like they're smaller units. And in manufacturing, it's, it's easier now to get a one to two year, you know, return on your investment, you know, a lot of the bigger units and things like that it's a little more difficult. And it depends, too, if you're running like 24/7, that's, we kind of always have this sort of red light, yellow light, green light. So like, if you're running one shift, and you're like a low wage rate, that's really difficult to get a payback. But if you're running, you know, three to four shifts, let's say full time 24/7, especially in high wage rate areas, it's really easy to get, you know, one to two year pay.

16:09

It's interesting. Yeah, I never thought of it that way. You're right. If you're just if you're a nine to five type of business. Yeah, no, that's it. That's a tough one. But if you're around the clock, hi, wait, that's interesting. Now, we've got carts, we've got robots, and we've got vehicles. That's what I've heard so far. Yep. Yeah. The, the question I would have, if I was evaluating whether I need to go around, down the road of automation is, do I? Do I look at my business in such a way that I can say, Okay, here's, here's my entry level I want to deal with here. But then, you know, maybe three or four years from now, I want to be up here? Is it scalable, easily scalable?

16:57

ually, you know, maybe have a:

17:46

So just keep an eye on provide the software component.

17:50

Yeah, so our AGVs all have PLCs. Onboard, typically, which is a little unique in the industry gives a lot more flexibility. A lot of a lot of companies have industrial PCs on board. But then in terms of, you know, from the software side, like I said, you can start from just a simple push button back and forth type unit in our system, let's say and then you can kind of have maybe mid level where you're maybe managing a location or to like, you know, especially with manufacturing, like you, typically you're delivering a full, right, and then you grab the empty, right, that's, that's real typical in the industry. So, you know, the AGV system can kind of make that decision of okay, here, I dropped and so then I pick from here, next time I drop here and pick from basic right now we're starting to grow up the software a little bit. And then that can actually get all the way to where you're, you know, either interfacing or actually working like a WMS or, you know, a WBS or something like that.

18:47

Bu am as b s warehouse management, software management software, and then WBS

18:58

WBS. When execution software, I'm not a software guy, I say this all the time engineer, but yeah, that's the software side, you can really start to grow. And most companies have their own WMS already, right? Yeah. Something but so you can interface with that. That's pretty common to interface with it. And then sometimes you can kind of function as one gray as well, if it's, you know, maybe a smaller area, you know, not that many locations.

19:28

So I'm, I'm, I'm interested in the the to cart solution. And I like your price point. I'm interested in that that'll on tip in my dipping my toes into the water of automation. I say yes. Give me the time. That and I I understand it's there's a swag here but generally speaking, time to actually implementation and execution.

19:58

Yeah, so right now for our standard units for Something like that it would be around six months, which, I mean, there's a lot of supply chain issues, we're not immune to that. But, you know, our operations director did a really good job. Kind of planning ahead. And with our, with our standard units, you know, as little as six months, you know, depending on the system, I mean, you know, some units might be up to nine months for a system, some still within a year.

20:24

But do I have to? How do these units are guided on the floor?

20:34

Yes, our units are typical, our magnetic tape, which is, you know, it's it's a I don't see down and dirty technology has been around for quite a while. It's easy, it's a, it's a, it's a less expensive navigation technology, there's RFID tags on the side that kind of give it you know, sort of the decision making them slow down, go charge speed of change scanner things. But, you know, you lay the tape on the floor, we also have infrastructure free, they call it mapping. It's basically a slam technology that uses the environment as well. We have some of those units as well. But I mean, our, like I said, our bread and butter is sort of the, you know, more industrial mouse style AGVs that are running on a magnetic tape,

21:17

saying I like that I like the magnetic tape just because I, let's say, Today, my four looks like this, whatever this is, and I'm running some tape down here. And then tomorrow, I get a great contract that requires me to modify my floor, plan my layout, then I can feel comfortable knowing that it's just tape. It's not something that goes right into the concrete. And it's there forever. So it has some flexibility that I like, I'm always about flexibility, but that and I would imagine, you could say, Yeah, okay, I see your shift in your floor. So what we'll do is we'll lay this out, we'll just we'll do it this way. And so your, your implementation is quicker, too, as well.

22:03

Yeah, the tape is easy. You mean it's it's cheap. You know? Yeah, there's, there's other companies I worked at that use it as well. I mean, it's, you can put protective cover on it, you can epoxy, it becomes a little more permanent that point. But yes, I mean, you can in, you know, on demand, you can sort of lay tape and like, make a why and make it turn this way. I mean, it's, uh, you know, I've seen it many, many times, you know, it's really easy to modify. It's Hot Wheels. Yeah, sure, you can change the tracks change the track, I see my six year old daughter do it, Claire, she's on track.

22:37

I wanted to go around this now. Exactly. Which is not bad. It's not a bad idea. I like that. And it allows me to get my my foot in the door of automation, and see the value the benefits. And and see from an I'm a firm believer that if you're not in the game, and you're not thinking about it, you don't know the questions to ask you don't know what you're trying to use the technology for. So get in the game, I see that that is, is a vital component. Now, there's always roadblocks I get it. I can automate. That's great. I'm dealing with some resource challenges. Yes, that's reality of it. But what are the roadblocks? What are we talking about? What What prevents people from going that way?

23:20

Yeah, so we always try to identify those early too, right. So it, it can be an issue. So I always recommend people to get their IT group involved early because that can be a roadblock if they don't want you to VPN in or be on the network, different things like that. So if you're a company that's, you know, trying to implement AGVs definitely get your IT people on board early, let them know what you're doing. That always helps safety is another big one, right? So if you've got a big safety department group, they need to know, you know, if they don't know about AGVs, if you have an enemy for them, you know, that's a lot of times a stumbling block. If, if you've got a big safety crew, and they've already, you know, you've got multiple sites with ATVs, it's a lot easier. So you definitely want to get safety involved as well. I mean, those are the other issues.

24:04

What are the safety concerns? I have to pull on that string? What is that?

24:08

Yeah, safety is huge. I mean, safety for ATVs is huge. And I mean, and there has been a ton of developments over the years to make them safer and safer and safer. The safety spec that basically governs AGVs and CB 56.5 That's that's the main safety spec. It I don't want to say it's sort of a minimal safety spec. I mean, it kind of it still makes vehicle safe and solution safe. But there's responsibility on both parts. It's not just the AGV company has responsibility that the company implementing the AGVs has their own responsibility as well. Whether to train the operators how to be around and put put signs up things like that. They have some they have a lot of responsibilities. Yeah, come on.

24:55

I mean, I get it and you're in the business. The AGV companies are in a bit have definitely delivering a solution to a problem. And if if safety is a challenge, you're gonna, you're gonna build it in there, you're gonna have to, you're gonna have to figure that out, or nobody's gonna use your product. And people are getting run over by your, your, your product, nobody will like that. No better. Sure. So I do like that. So we've got it issues. How many times I have that conversation? roadblocks, it just happens all the time. Okay. Yeah, you're not immune to it either. It sounds to me that it's important to get the sort of leadership involved to say, this is where we need to go, this is the strategic direction we are heading. And this is why it's important. And then as probably deals with a lot of the other internal resistance to be able to, you know, deploy the solution.

25:59

Yeah, yeah, you got, I mean, it depends to a bigger company, when corporate let's say, has a plan to put AGVs in, it goes down to the plant level, you still got to get plant level buy in right, either, you know, from the operations managers and the plant manager, people, it's, I've seen it, I've seen struggles a little bit where there's sort of a corporate mandate, right? Nobody likes, you know, at the plant level to hear that if they're not worried. So, no, but it is it does definitely help to have executive sponsorship, especially executives and corporate people that have had experience with them, let's say from another company, right? And they're rolling into a different company bringing their expertise and say, Hey, this is what we did. You know? So

26:36

I'll tell you one, one word, Amazon, Amazon's all in. If Amazon's all in and I know that I use Amazon, you need to consider doing the same thing. You need to figure this out. If they're in. They've got a competitive advantage. It's, it's obvious. Yeah. So you know, make it happen. All right. So what we have is we've got sort of a six month for a simple type of solution. We're looking at cards. Is it scalable? Yes. And I just, I love the I love the approach. Now. Just remember, we've got a couple of issues that have to be addressed. That's it, as well as safety. But I think that that those are two issues that can be overcome. And just remember, once again, Amazon, all right, my academy people get a hold of you insane. This is cool conversation. I want to get a hold of Mike.

27:27

Yeah, for sure. For sure. So you can find me on LinkedIn for sure. Kip nine, you can find us Kip nine.com. And you can follow Kevin on USA on Twitter.

27:36

All right, that's Mike Kotzen. That's coyote Zian. KYV, non ki V and O. N is the company. Once again, LinkedIn. God bless me. Because you can always find their stat card out somebody stat card out there, get a little flavor, find the website can do all of that. All right. That was an excellent conversation there. Mike. Appreciate your time.

28:04

Awesome, Scott. I can always talk AGVs

28:09

See, I think it's so cool. I don't know, man. It's a it's a it's an odd time. I mean, I I can geek out. I'm a fan of Discovery Channel and, and Smithsonian channel, and they do all of that garbage.

28:22

I love that. And I always like being able to talk to somebody about it besides my wife cuz she's tired of hearing about it. So yeah, I hear Yeah. Hey, did you know that we could do it here?

28:34

I'm going Oh, cool. All right. Thank you, Mike. All right, listeners. We're not we're gonna have all the links and contact information for from Mike out on industrial talk.com. So stay tuned. We will be right back.

28:49

You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.

28:59

All right. Ah, harder harder. Thank you to Mike for joining me. On the industrial talk podcast, Kivnon company. Simple is the best way that I can possibly sum up the conversation. automated vehicles simple. Yeah. Reach out. Great stat card out on LinkedIn. You will not be disappointed. Again. 10 hardhat, approval, trusted, trusted individual. You won't be disappointed. All right. May 10 to 12 IoT solutions World Congress, Barcelona. Barcelona is great. No, no doubt about that. Let's get back to normal. Let's get back to that next normal. Let's get get engaged. Let's look at those face to face conversations and make it meaningful. Make it get the most out of your conferences. Get the most out of your engagements. That's what we're all about here at industrial talk. Go to that event. Great. Great. All right, people be brave dare greatly hang out with Mike Bold brave and Daring Greatly you're going to change the world thank you very much for joining we're gonna have another conversation Great One.

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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