Koch Industries to deploy cobots from MIR

by Inside Logistics Online Staff
MIR robot at MiR
An MiR robot being put through its paces at MiR HQ.

Mobile Industrial Robots, the global market leader in autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), has entered into a worldwide  agreement to supply robots to one of the world’s largest private companies, Koch Industries.

Cooperation started between MiR and Guardian Industries, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, in 2020. Guardian Industries tested different solutions for automating in-house transportation, including deploying MiR robots in two U.S. sites as pilot projects. The success of these pilot projects resulted in the agreement between Koch Industries and MiR to evaluate the technology globally.

“We have entered into this strategic agreement with MiR because it has the capacity and extensive knowledge to support us in streamlining and optimizing our logistics operations,” said Antonio Blanco, global category manager, Guardian Industries.

“MiR offers flexible automation solutions that can be tailored to address our current and future operational needs. We are implementing this technology at multiple facilities because we consider MiR as a long-term partner that has the experience and capabilities to support us in achieving our productivity goals.”

With five autonomous mobile robots, MiR has a wide range of AMRs in the market to take over various transportation tasks, from moving smaller parts to heavy duty loads up to 2200 pounds (1000 kg). The largest robots can automatically pick up, transport and deliver pallets.

The versatility of MiR’s robots, which can be customized with different top modules to meet customer needs, is a key reason why Guardian Industries chose to collaborate with MiR, and why other Koch companies are also evaluating possible implementations.

“We will implement the robots in multiple plants with different layouts and products, so it is important for us to have a logistics solution that can fit into all types of environments and easily adapt to new tasks,” said Peter Westrick, material handling engineer, Guardian.

AMRs on the rise

As demonstrated by MiR’s 55% increase in sales in the first quarter of 2021, Guardian Industries and Koch Industries are not the only companies that want to optimize internal transportation flows.

“In general, we see a great potential across industries for optimizing internal logistic workflows, from inbound and outbound logistics to material handling in manufacturing plants, and our industry-graded robots can be deployed directly into these different workflows,” said Christian Clausen, sales director, MiR.

“The plant setups of today are agile and highly dynamic, and people, equipment, pallets and other obstacles can appear in what used to be open passageways. Our mobile robots fit these ever-changing environments very well. With their collaborative, autonomous navigation, automated material transportation becomes flexible and easily adaptable without additional cost or disruption to processes.”

Successful pilot projects

Almost every MiR pilot project has resulted in the client subsequently ordering multiple MiR AMRs. According to robotics analyst Frank Tobe: “There are many reasons, but two stand out: First, with the addition of low-cost shelving and handling accessories, clients keep finding new applications for these versatile mobile robots, and second, MiR’s navigation, fleet and handling software is simple to install and activate and provides continuing ROI. MiR focuses on flat-surface apps, which are ideal for almost all manufacturing and logistics operations around the world. I can see why Koch and other inventive multi-business conglomerates are interested in MiR. It’s an ideal fit of need and product.”

MiR has a global distribution network in more than 60 countries and local offices in New York, San Diego, Singapore, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Tokyo and Shanghai.

Guardian Industries is based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and operates facilities throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It employs 15,000 people manufacturing high-performance float glass; coated and fabricated glass products for architectural, residential, interior, transportation and technical glass applications; and high-quality chrome-plated and painted plastic components for the automotive and commercial truck industries.