Slip Robotics: Revolutionizing the Freight Industry with Automation
The story of Slip Robotics begins with 3 coworkers with different backgrounds and great chemistry. Christopher Smith, Dennis Siedlak and John Jakomin enjoyed working together and had complementary skill sets, so when they found themselves available at the same time they simply needed to come up with the right opportunity for the right market. In Jakomin’s words “Chris, one of my fellow co-founders, had a background in factory design and was previously part of the Gigafactory design team at Tesla. His experience with automation led him to realize that there was little automation for loading docks, which presented an opportunity.” There was the opportunity, and the start of Slip Robotics.
FAILING FAST & LEARNING TO OVERCOME CHALLENGES
With the robotic space becoming cheaper, faster, and more accessible, the founders saw the chance to start automating the loading dock. Slip Robotics launched about one month after the pandemic began, a jarring time to start a business of any kind, but especially one that was working with 3PL companies during a very publicized “supply chain crisis”.
“Starting a company during a global pandemic presented numerous challenges for us. We faced difficulties with material and component availability, lead times, and prototyping. Supply chain disruptions had massive design and engineering implications, such as deciding whether to use cheaper aluminum or stronger steel. Sometimes, components were delayed for months, making it difficult to run a hardware company that relies on timely deliveries,” Jakomin told us, “For instance, we had a component that was stuck on a container ship for several months, and we had to rely on our backups to keep the business going. We also had to deal with sudden changes in material prices, which had significant design and engineering implications.”
Despite the macro level challenges, on top of the ones that occur naturally with any startup, Jakomin, Smith, and Siedlak focused on finding solutions to make their products cheaper, lighter, and stronger. “Our primary goal was to get products into the hands of customers so they could provide feedback. This was crucial to improving the product quickly and reducing costs associated with design and manufacturing,” says Jakomin. This is the “fail fast” mentality, a common theme in the startup space. They fail fast, learn fast, and get better fast through actionable data that accelerates decision making. “Overall, our ability to be agile, data-driven, and make decisions quickly helped us navigate the challenges brought on by the pandemic,” he says.
One of the ways Slip Robotics changed fast was by leveraging technology to facilitate communication and collaboration within their team. They used online tools to prototype and get feedback on different designs and materials, allowing them to make data-driven decisions and prototype faster.
Another key factor was their strong team and diverse skill sets. With engineers, designers, and business experts working together, Slip Robotics could approach problems from multiple angles and find creative solutions. They also fostered a culture of open communication and transparency, where everyone felt comfortable speaking up and sharing their ideas. Slip Robotics encouraged an atmosphere of collaboration and empowerment for their workforce from the start.
“Overall, the pandemic presented us with a unique set of challenges, but it also forced us to be more innovative and adaptable. By staying focused on our goals and working together as a team, we were able to overcome these challenges and continue to grow our business,” says Jakomin.
MARKET GROWTH AND SHEET METAL FABRICATION TO SCALE
Today, Slip Robotics prides itself on its ability to deliver high-quality products quickly and efficiently. The company uses a lean manufacturing process that minimizes waste and maximizes efficiency, allowing them to produce products at a low cost without sacrificing quality. A key component of this is modularity, which is where OSH Cut comes in. The sheet metal fabrication we were able to provide helped enable customization and speed in prototyping and then full scale production as Slip Robotics standardized its configuration. “The ability for us to design parts, get instant quotes, and test fast with OSH Cut has made us much more efficient. We can design something up and test quickly, and then scale with each part, while knowing the cost to scale,” says Jakomin. The company's products are designed to be easily assembled and disassembled with the incorporation of sheet metal fabrication, making it easy for customers to add or remove modules as needed. This approach also makes it easy for customers of Slip Robotics to customize their products for specific needs. “We believe that we can play well with other automation solutions, such as automated forklifts and pick-and-place machines, and make them better. Our robots can be integrated into existing infrastructure, trucks, and loading docks with no modifications to help truck drivers and forklift operators save time and increase productivity, which is especially important given the shortage of truck drivers”, states Jakomin.
VISION AND PATH FORWARD
Looking to the future, Slip Robotics is aiming to increase the value they provide to their customers in the freight industry to massive proportions. Whether companies are hyper lean using today’s state of the art forklifts, or running outdated software and processes, there are opportunities for Slip’s automation to provide improvements. When asked about the company’s vision, Jakomin says “By doing more with less, we can help companies in the industry improve their margins, save time, and create safer work environments. We aim to disrupt the fulfillment and logistics space and bring value not only to the economy but especially to our partners and their respective customers.”
Contact Slip Robotics today to learn more about their products and how they can help you take your business to the next level, and to learn more about their safety improvements, which we barely even touched on this spotlight. 25% of industrial accidents involve a loading dock, which Slip Robotics removes the need for operators to enter trailers to load or unload. Their range of robotic solutions can improve your loading and unloading processes, reduce your costs, and ensure the safety of your workers.
About Slip Robotics: The global economy depends on the freight industry for the movement of goods and products worldwide. However, the industry is facing challenges like inefficiencies and safety concerns. To address these challenges, Slip Robotics, a California-based startup specializing in robotic systems for the logistics industry, is leading the way. Slip Robotics was founded by three individuals - John Jakomin, Chris Smith, and Dennis Siedlak - with diverse backgrounds who shared a vision of revolutionizing the loading dock industry with automation solutions that would increase efficiency and productivity while reducing costs and improving safety.