Michael Goepfarth, CEO, SCIO AutomationMichael Goepfarth, CEO
It’s almost a year since the first COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, and as we try to compare the world before and after the pandemic, we definitely see many stark changes!

One of the major upheavals has been in terms of technology adoption. In the pre-COVID-19 world, many businesses were slow or even skeptical when it came to augmenting their operational processes with the latest technologies. But the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that the future belongs to technologically-adept companies. And it is now influencing many businesses to shore up their technical capabilities.

In this quest, automation and robotic solutions are the two latest innovations that many businesses are focusing on. Businesses are realizing that automating their factory floors will not only help them address the shortage of skilled labor but would also facilitate a way around any crisis similar to COVID-19 in the future. Even if people are barred from working in closed spaces, automated, and remotely-operated factory floors can run on their own without any manual intervention.

This widespread adoption of automation and robotics solutions, however, is also bringing forth new sets of challenges for businesses and manufacturers alike. For instance, many of the current robotic solutions are built as standalone systems and don’t necessarily offer a seamless ‘plug and play’ experience for the end-users. Businesses, therefore, have to define interfaces, develop custom programs, and then test them. They also have to make failure measurements of their robotic solutions. “This creates a situation similar to how a multilingual team can get stuck in the linguistic barrier. We all know how hard it is to coordinate with a team when everyone on the team doesn’t speak a common language,” quips Michael Goepfarth—an automation industry thought leader and CEO of SCIO Automation. According to Goepfarth, when such a metaphorical ‘communication gap’ takes place between an IT system and robotic solutions, it lowers the overall productivity of the automation tools. Interestingly, this is where SCIO helps its clients bridge the gap between an existing operational flow and new automation tools. “We act as a translator between our client’s IT infrastructure and the robotic solutions they are integrating, and ensure the entire system runs properly right off the bat,” states the CEO.

Notably, SCIO is a Group of eight automation and robotics industry mavens, namely VESCON Group, Schiller Group, Industrial Automation, PrintoLUX, AUTKOM, tmp, Mojin Robotics, and MFI. SCIO leverages the collective domain knowledge of these partner companies in automotive, electronics, life science, food & beverage, and utility industries to assist clients from various business verticals meet their automation goals.

Elaborating further, Goepfarth highlights that SCIO assists its clients in three key areas in all main worldwide regions—advanced intralogistics, intelligent automation, and innovative services. For clients seeking help in the advanced intralogistics, SCIO leverages the combined logistics know-how within its partner companies and offers turnkey solutions for various industries.
The company’s offerings range from material handling via complex warehouse solutions to intralogistics vehicles. Similarly, SCIO holds an unparalleled good-will in the intelligent automation arena. SCIO is a renowned specialist for complex, high-volume integration services and acts as a trusted partner for customized assembly lines and workstations for niche applications. The company also provides solutions for almost all PLC centric problems. “Lastly, we offer special services pertaining to process technology, digital factory, and industrial labelling,” underscores Goepfarth. This service portfolio comprises all software development competencies of SCIO as well as its activities for the energy and process industry. “It is a collection of all services within SCIO that either directly complements our automation solutions or offer a valuable diversification of our activities,” Goepfarth adds further. This distinct solution portfolio, along with 24/7 support and safety services, allows SCIO to help the clients not only in terms of project planning and realization but also enabling services.

We act as a translator between our client’s IT infrastructure and the robotic solutions they are integrating, and ensure the entire system runs properly right off the bat

At this juncture, how these illustrated capabilities of SCIO helps its clients can be best explained through case studies. In one particular instance, a longstanding SCIO client approached them to replace their manual tugger trains with autonomous ones. SCIO collaborated with the client and developed a customized version of completely autonomous tugger trains and forklifts that would perfectly integrate with the client’s existing IT system. The success of this partnership helped SCIO earn a long-term framework contract, where the company has been tasked to deliver hundreds of these vehicles to the client’s facilities around the globe. In another instance, SCIO assisted a car OEM inbuilding an automated high-bay warehouse. SCIO handled everything from designing, intralogistics planning, and installation of automation solutions. The company also went the extra mile and taught client’s employees the operational know-how of the implemented solutions. Today, the client requires only seven employees to run the entire facility with over 70,000 racking positions.

These are two of the many success stories that SCIO has helped craft over the years. Interestingly, these engagements are not localized in any particular region for SCIO. Being a conglomerate of multiple companies, SCIO has its service offerings extended in almost every part of the world. In the U.S. and Europe, particularly, SCIO has got a strong foothold. The company is now eager to expand its reach in other areas such as Asian and Latin American countries. “We are also looking to add more companies in our existing portfolio to enhance our capabilities even further,” adds Goepfarth. “Through these efforts, we are poised to become a significant player in every part of the world.”