Q&A: Michel Spruijt, Vice President and General Manager, Brain Corp Europe
Michel Spruijt joined Brain Corp as the Vice President and General Manager of Brain Corp Europe in 2019. Michel is responsible for partner support, team expansion, and the oversight of general operations throughout the region.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
My name is Michel Spruijt and I currently serve as Vice President and General Manager of Brain Corp Europe.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
Brain Corp is an AI and robotics company with headquarters in San Diego, California and a European office in Amsterdam. Our BrainOS® technology platform and its cloud-connected autonomy service are used by global manufacturing partners to successfully build, deploy, and support commercial robots at scale across industries and applications.
Instead of building robots from the ground up, Brain Corp seeks to operate as the “Microsoft of robotics” and provide equipment builders with the AI and autonomy systems necessary to successfully produce their own robotic solutions. BrainOS is now the world’s leading technology provider for the autonomous floor care market, with over 14,000 BrainOS-powered cleaning machines enabled or operating around the world.
What’s special about the platform and your approach?
BrainOS-powered machines are designed with the end-user in mind. Our autonomous cleaning solutions, for example, still require a human in the loop to “teach” the machine initial routes and help it if it happens to get stuck. The training and set-up process is very easy, with anyone able to set-up and deploy quickly with no additional infrastructure requirements.
What’s more, Brain Corp provides tremendous value from the data and learnings generated by our fleet. With thousands of robots in the field, all BrainOS-powered robots are constantly learning from one another and improving. This scale ensures continuous advanced performance, making our solutions the most trusted available.
What advantage does it add?
Autonomous floor care powered by BrainOS ensures a constant and consistent state of clean. These robots perform the same tasks at the same time each day and can be easily adapted to changing environments (such as those oftentimes seen in retail). What’s more, these robots do not get sick or quit their jobs. With cleaning and sanitation at the top of everyone’s mind, this technology serves as an important support tool in providing customers with cleaner, safer stores.
How does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
We work closely with our manufacturing partners to ensure that BrainOS-powered cleaning machines are deployed safely and successfully. Users of the machines are taught how to train routes, place the machine in autonomous mode, and read and interpret subsequent reporting. All of this can be done very quickly, without the support of a specialized engineering team, and with no changes to pre-existing infrastructure.
We look at usage rates and time spent in autonomous mode in order to determine success on an initial level. Of course, every retailer will measure and consider ROI differently depending on what they’re looking to gain from the technology.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?
Retailers such as Walmart and Kroger are currently deploying BrainOS-powered robots alongside dozens of other names in the industry. With over 14,000 machines enabled around the world, retailers are looking to save time, support their workforce, improve efficiencies, lead with technology and, in the case of the pandemic, expand their cleaning programs to a 24/7 operation.
BrainOS-powered machines are also utilized in other public places such as schools, hospitals, shopping malls and airports. An airport case study, written by Flagship Services, a leading building service contractor, can be found here.
Are there other companies you partner with?
We partner with a number of leading manufacturers across the floor care space, including Kärcher, Minuteman, Nilfisk, and Tennant Company. We’ve also recently expanded the BrainOS applications portfolio to include delivery robots and have announced partnerships with UniCarriers and Dane Technologies as part of those efforts.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2021 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2020?
2020 is undoubtedly a tough year for retailers, particularly in the area of brick and mortar. Winning back consumer trust while doing everything possible to keep employees and shoppers safe should be at the top of every retail exec’s priority list.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
I believe that those retailers that adapt and embrace some of these automation technologies will be the ones left standing when we come out of this pandemic. By using robotics to offer a more consistent and safer store experience, customer confidence and employee satisfaction is likely to improve. Companies can streamline operations, maximize efficiencies, and truly start to harness the power of data analytics and reporting…a field that will only grow in importance over the next few years.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
Brain Corp strives to provide manufacturers with best-in-class robotics technology. We aim to make BrainOS the “Microsoft of robotics” and serve as a unified platform to autonomous mobile robots across form factors and applications. While we started in the cleaning industry, our goal is to move into other use cases and help catalyze and scale a new era of automation implementation and adoption.
To find out more about how robots help retailers meet today’s cleaning challenges, click here.
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