From intern to employee: Robin Guyomard rolled out Safran’s first smart, autonomous robot
How were you hired on at Safran?
Everything started with my end-of-studies project on rolling out a smart, autonomous robot in Safran's factory in Niort. This project ended up leading to me being hired! The site's supply chain management wanted to improve ergonomics and productivity in logistics activities and a project for an autonomous vehicle had been under review since 2015. At that time, cobotics was in its infancy in autonomous movement and the only robots that existed in aeronautics were wire-guided, meaning they moved on rails. In 2017, I got a final year internship to run this project, and after that I was hired on permanently and the robot went into use.
What does this robot actually do?
It moves autonomously to retrieve assembly kits which it delivers to the different production lines. It moves around following programmed flow of traffic rules, but it also knows how to identify obstacles and go around them. It can stop if its path is completely blocked and restarts when the path is cleared. From an ergonomic point of view, the robot makes most operator trips unnecessary and reduces the need to carry loads by 50%. In terms of productivity, there is a 30% optimization in the work of employees dedicated to contactor kit assembly and distribution to production lines. This allows logistics agents to focus on value-added tasks, namely kit preparation, which requires experience and essential product knowledge.
What did you get out of it professionally and personally?
This is the culmination of a long-term project. I am satisfied professionally because the robot meets the needs of the operators who work with it on a daily basis. It is often believed that this type of solution eliminates jobs, but the goal is actually to improve job ergonomics and content by contributing something new. On a personal level, it's an enormous challenge because I was entrusted with a huge amount of responsibility before I was even hired. It has allowed me to develop project management skills. I couldn't have asked for a better final year internship. Today, I assume the role of Business Process Owner and maintain the robot.