Unify Analytics is an example of AutoStore values at work. The bold and innovative new software reduces wasted time, eliminates error, and optimizes performance by making system data more visible and transparent to our customers. It was developed by engineers from the AutoStore Monitor & Maintenance team using a lean, user-focused process to solve everyday logistics challenges.
“Unify Analytics is a cloud-based service and data platform enabling users to easily gain access to actionable insights about their AutoStore cube. It can be utilized either as a collection of ready-to-use data visualization in a web application or as an Application Programming Interface (API). The latter typically enables partners and customers to build their own solutions. The web application uses the API to retrieve the data being presented,” said AutoStore Product Manager Andreas Munch.
It’s hard to imagine AutoStore outdoing its already incredible track record of reliability — the system has a global average uptime of 99.7%. But Unify Analytics will do just that, according to Munch.
By always having a live view of what is going on in an AutoStore system, users can proactively plan for maintenance on modules that are registering unhealthy behavior. This will, in turn, reduce downtime and make the system even faster and more efficient.
“We believe that moving forward, Unify Analytics will be the main driver for enabling condition-based maintenance on AutoStore systems. Using data from the platform makes it possible to inspect and monitor each component in your AutoStore system to a great extent,” he said.
“Unify can further reduce time spent on monitoring and identifying performance bottlenecks, and by utilizing Unify’s live data, it can optimize throughput and resources.”
The AutoStore Monitor & Maintenance team led by Asle Olsen Gaasøn conceived of the idea while troubleshooting systems with ASLog files, which are proprietary data files that contain the commands made by the AutoStore Cube Control System software to Robots and Ports. Each and every movement from the Controller to the modules is recorded and available for analysis.
“Live collection of the log files allows us to analyze and diagnose the AutoStore system. Further, it enables value-added services on top of the current default software offering, including the ability to diagnose and present recommended actions,” said Munch.
Realizing that the ASLog files are like “data gold” for anyone who owns, operates, or maintains an AutoStore system, the team decided to build a platform and commercialize it for the benefit of AutoStore users and consultants around the world.
“The initial reason for starting the development was to serve an internal need. By analyzing the data from all our installations the team was able to identify which issues were most frequent on our modules. By focusing on these we could drastically improve our quality and uptime of our modules,” Munch said.
“We quickly realized that also our partners could benefit a lot from this data in terms of improved quality of service and customer support.”
The Unify team worked closely with partners and end users during development. Engineers relied heavily on user feedback to create the best possible product.
“When we discovered that Unify Analytics could bring value to more than just AutoStore, we went into a phase called market insight. During this process, we interviewed partners and end customers to ensure a good product-market fit,” Munch said.
“We got extremely valuable input during this process, so when we launch Unify Analytics, we are confident that this will bring value to the users.”
When asked “why Unify Analytics?,” AutoStore employees and external stakeholders identified a laundry list of how the big data platform can help maximize the value and performance of AutoStore systems. Here’s just a sample:
“AutoStore doesn’t develop software based on assumptions. We always validate and involve the future users of a product. We collected a lot of insight that we turned into user stories and later features,” Munch said.
Based on stakeholder input, the team piloted a workable software solution and invited a select group of users to beta test it.
“We were far from done, but we wanted people to start using it to get more concrete feedback,” Munch said.
“AutoStore doesn’t develop software based on assumptions. We always validate and involve the future users of a product. We collected a lot of insight that we turned into user stories and later features.”
Andreas is a descendant of the famous Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, who was his grandfather’s great-uncle. Although he’s not an artist, Andreas shares some common traits with his world-famous relative that lend themselves to innovation.
“I like to be creative, but more in finding creative solutions to challenges, not in art,” he said.
But what really drove the platform’s development, according to Munch, was following the AutoStore core values of Lean, Bold, and Transparent from start to finish.
“The Unify platform was developed in a lean manner, adapting quickly to customers’ needs and expectations. Since the platform is completely cloud-based we are able deploy new features and improvements in a very lean manner. Further, by providing these insights to our partners and end customers we provide a great transparency into the workings of our modules,” he said.
“All of this is quite bold in our opinion.”
Not asking the right questions up-front puts your automation project at risk. Learn the questions you, your vendors, and consultants need to ask.
Learn how to optimize operations with a robust Warehouse Management System (WMS). Streamline processes, boost efficiency, and enhance productivity.