Automated Warehouse System Solutions with XSQUARE
Jens Bohnwagner is the CEO of XSQUARE Technologies, a growing intelligent warehousing solutions company headquartered in Singapore. Since assuming its helm in 2022, he has been responsible for leading the strategic growth and direction of the business, managing its fundraising efforts, and has overseen its rapid expansion into the APAC region.
Jens is a seasoned entrepreneur and IT veteran with over 20 years of engineering and product development experience across various domains. He served as CTO and co-founder in several international start-ups. Jens studied Computer Science and holds an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering.
He has an eye for innovation and simplicity and is passionate about technology and its possibilities, always looking for ways to combine business and customer needs with technical solutions to make a business thrive. He has under his belt a broad spectrum of knowledge including application development, cloud technologies, distributed team management, start-up ventures, quality methodologies, development and deployment, and problem-solving.
1. How did XSQUARE Technologies form under Goldbell Group, which has 40 years of experience in the MHE and warehouse industry?
An astute intrapreneur from Goldbell identified the prevailing gaps within the warehousing industry, specifically a growing labor shortage and the need to automate in a brownfield environment, which are significant concerns for established warehouses that are transitioning toward automation. It became evident that the conventional Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) were inadequate in addressing the industry’s evolving needs.
Leveraging Goldbell’s four decades of rich expertise in material handling equipment and deep understanding of the warehousing industry, XSQUARE Technologies was founded. Our driving force stems from a passionate commitment to addressing the challenges faced by the industry, with a mission to transform intelligent warehousing in the Asia Pacific with proprietary intelligent
warehouse automation solutions.
2. Share with us the real-life challenges that warehouse operators face when undergoing warehouse automation. How XSQUARE overcomes that?
Our general observations from these on the ground studies in the region are that the majority of the warehouse operators have concerns over three potential problems namely high investment costs, integration and compatibility issues, and the ability to co-exist with their manned operations.
XSQUARE believes that complete end to end interoperability is the key to success in automation. As such, XSQUARE’s complete range of Autonomous Forklifts and Intelligent Warehouse Orchestrator software system is engineered to interwork seamlessly and safely in manned and existing environments without the need for reconfiguration, optimizing warehouse operations and workflow for maximum operational efficiency.
Also, XSQUARE firmly believes in acting as success agents, accompanying our customers on their automation journey. We dedicate ourselves to thoroughly understanding their needs, challenges, and pain points. By taking the time to listen and comprehend their unique requirements, we forge a strong partnership built on trust and collaboration.
Firstly, our team of engineers will first consult our clients on their automation needs and goals to gather information and knowledge about their operations before discussing in detail the solutions that will be made available to them. This discussion will revolve around their budgeted investment versus the throughputs and benefits that they can derive from XSQUARE’s solutions.
Secondly, we will assess if there is a need to integrate our hardware and software with existing solutions that the warehouse already has in place. The beauty of our solutions is that our research scientists have designed our hardware and software to be interoperable with other brands of solutions, ensuring that they are compatible so that warehouse operators do need not to overhaul existing warehouse infrastructure and subsystems.
This is especially important for warehouse operators that have previously failed in their automation journey or are seeking an upgrade. Our ability to interoperate the existing systems will also eliminate operational downtime.
Lastly, we will also provide training services to workers at the warehouse once the journey of automation is completed. This would ensure that the workers who are well-versed with the systems will now take on the role of a conductor and oversee the new orchestration of warehouse operations. Our tailored approach ensures that we develop solutions that address the unique needs of each customer. We work closely with them every step of the way.
Through this collaborative partnership, we strive to create a seamless integration of our intelligent warehouse solutions into their existing operations from end to end for true interoperability. We are committed to not only providing cutting edge technologies but also offering the expertise and guidance needed to navigate the complexities of warehouse automation successfully and achieve their automation objectives efficiently and effectively.
3. What is the role intelligent warehouse solutions providers play that will determine if the transition to warehouse automation will be a success?
While the concept of warehouse automation has been simplified over the years, with just the implementation of AGVs and WCS, what determines success is whether or not the solutions will meet the needs and goals of warehouse operators. Every warehouse faces different challenges and will need different solutions. In other words, a one-size-fits all solution is inadequate. Here are some key aspects that will help with success:
Expertise and Consultation: Diagnose the problem while assessing warehouse needs before recommending solutions.
Easy Transition: Simplify the transition process by ensuring that the proposed solutions can easily integrate and work harmoniously with manned and existing warehouse configurations.
Interoperability: All components whether hard- and software solutions must interwork seamlessly with one another, enabling interoperability between diverse warehouse operations for effortless intralogistics.
Significant Productivity Improvements: Optimise processes and implement automation solutions to solve challenges and drive significant productivity improvements.
Ongoing Support and Maintenance: Offer continuous support even after implementation, monitoring automation system performance, providing troubleshooting assistance, and making necessary adjustments to ensure customers are meeting their automation goals.
Operational and Safety Training: To ensure that operators understand how to efficiently use the solutions to optimize workflows and maximize productivity, as well as how to safely interact with the autonomous forklift to avoid potential hazards, and respond to emergencies.
4. What are the driving factors behind XSQUARE’s adoption of warehouse automation?
Our success at XSQUARE is driven by our commitment to achieving interoperability for our clients, allowing them to experience the true benefits of automation. We pride ourselves on delivering tangible results and effectiveness, even in brownfield or hybrid operating environments. Our track record of repeated orders from satisfied customers serves as a testament to our accomplishments.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the adoption of automation solutions in the APAC region. Businesses are investing in robotics, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), and warehouse control systems (WCS) to ensure social distancing, reduce human contact, and improve operational efficiency.
Our solutions have proven its worth for warehouse operators to implement a ‘third shift’ as well as resume operations even when workers are unfit for work, yet without replacing workers completely as our technology still works hand in hand with human operations, fostering a
5. Can you share with us the key factors to consider when adopting warehouse automation?
The implementation phase of warehouse automation will become complex or even troublesome if the conceptualization phase is not well thought out. When adopting warehouse automation, operators should bear in mind the following factors:
Needs Assessment: Conduct a comprehensive assessment of your current warehouse operations and identify areas that can benefit from automation. Operators should first understand your specific requirements, pain points, and goals to determine the most suitable automation solutions for your business.
Integration with Existing Systems (if any): Assess how the proposed automation solutions can integrate with your existing warehouse management systems (WMS), inventory management systems, and other software. Seamless integration is crucial to ensure smooth data flow, real-time visibility, and efficient coordination between different systems.
Demonstrate Tested and Proven Results: Assess vendors based on their track record of successful projects with other customers. Look for evidence that their solutions have been tested and executed effectively to ensure credibility.
Employee Training and Adaptation: Plan for proper training to upskill your workforce to ensure a smooth transition to automated operations. Involve your employees in the adoption process, communicate the benefits of automation, and provide training to ensure they can effectively work alongside the automated systems.
Safety and Risk Mitigation: Assess the safety measures and risk mitigation strategies provided by the automation solutions. Ensure that the systems comply with relevant safety standards and regulations. Implement proper safety protocols, including training employees on working safely with the automated equipment.
Long-term Support and Maintenance: Consider the availability of ongoing support, maintenance, and software updates from the vendor. Ensure that you have access to technical assistance and that the vendor can address any issues promptly to minimize downtime.
By carefully considering these key factors, you can make informed decisions and successfully adopt warehouse automation that aligns with your business needs and maximizes the benefits of automation technologies.
6. There have been a few controversial takes on warehouse automation, specifically the narrative and constant debate on how it will replace human jobs. What’s your view on this?
While automation has the potential to automate repetitive and routine tasks traditionally performed by humans, it does not necessarily mean widespread job replacement. Instead, it leads to a transformation of job roles and the creation of new opportunities for workers. Implementing warehouse automation can break traditional barriers that warehouses face, such as labor shortages, operational inefficiencies, poor inventory management, and suboptimal order fulfillment.
By automating repetitive tasks, workers can be freed up to focus on more complex and value added activities that require human skills such as problemsolving, critical thinking, and customer interaction. Additionally, automation can enhance the productivity of the workforce through multi-skilling. Workers can be trained to operate and manage automated systems, thereby expanding their skill sets and making them more versatile in the evolving workplace. This multi-skilling approach not only enhances individual productivity but also strengthens the overall workforce
and creates opportunities for growth and career advancement.
It is important for businesses and stakeholders to proactively address concerns related to job displacement. This can be achieved by implementing appropriate measures such as reskilling and upskilling programs, providing training opportunities, and fostering a culture of continuous learning. By embracing automation as a tool to augment human capabilities rather than replace them, businesses can create a harmonious balance between technology and the workforce.