How Formant Powers Enterprise Robotics

At the forefront of commercial robotics lies the challenge of supporting enterprise fleets. Dispersed across various industries and environments, each fleet has unique needs and parameters that can be difficult to track at scale. 

Recently, we announced our $21M funding round that followed a year of explosive enterprise growth at Formant and our partnership with SoftBank Robotics America. As we’ve increased the number of devices on our platform by an order of magnitude over the last twelve months, we’ve learned many valuable lessons in supporting enterprise fleets best and ensuring smooth deployments. Over the past year, we released numerous features to address challenges faced in fleet management, security and compliance, and customization. 

Let’s take a deeper look at these features and how they answer obstacles enterprise robotics faces every day. 

 

Accounts, Users, and Fleet management

At the enterprise level, larger fleets mean more people interacting with the fleet–and increased support needs. 

As fleets expand, so does the complexity of managing various users and access requirements and the need for swift support. In this environment, enterprises are challenged by issues such as accommodating numerous users, scaling support alongside fleet growth, and ensuring rapid response to critical needs. 

To help enterprises simplify fleet access, we offer Single Sign-On (SSO), and the ability to configure an unlimited number of SSO domains, ensuring seamless access control across different departments and accommodating diverse domains.

Another challenge often faced in large companies is organizing and providing access at different levels within team structures. To remedy this, Formant provides a Fleet & Account Hierarchy feature that serves as the architectural backbone for granular access control, enabling access provisioning at each level and providing the ability to grant specific users control based on their role. Similarly, we enable users to create fleet-level views, aggregate and monitor the health and status of various devices comprehensively, and leverage configuration templates to streamline large-scale operations.

Even with the right amount of users and comprehensive fleet views, robots still make mistakes and experience errors. Our team understands the dire need for robust support in enterprise settings. A dedicated Technical Account Manager (TAM) ensures personalized attention, offering strategic guidance tailored to your enterprise's unique needs. Paired with round-the-clock support and impressive uptime, Formant's commitment to service excellence is further underscored by a response time Service Level Agreement (SLA) of just 4 hours, minimizing downtime and optimizing operational continuity.

 

Security and Compliance

Among the issues enterprise fleets face are their pressing security and compliance concerns. As organizations increasingly integrate robotic systems into their operations, the complexity of managing these technologies grows in tandem. 

From safeguarding sensitive data and PII to adhering to strict regulations, data security and compliance are some of the most critical tasks within organizations. Supporting an enterprise fleet and its user data is a top priority, especially in environments such as healthcare that need to adhere strictly to HIPAA laws, among others. 

To securely deploy a fleet anywhere, Formant offers the ability to deploy in a private cloud or on-premises environment, which is deployed on the enterprises’ servers, accommodating higher security needs. Our platform also runs scheduled penetration (PEN) tests to ensure security for our customers. Given that enterprise fleets operate in various environments, they’re also likely to be spread across multiple locations, with many staff having access. To help simplify the management of users at scale, we provide multi-region user management and the ability to store user PII in their region so data is protected everywhere and meets the standards of regulations of the country where the user resides. 

With tens to hundreds of robots operating every day, plenty of data is streaming off the devices, and you may want to dig into specific data points later for investigation or pipe them to your analytics tool. Formant has a default data retention period of twelve months to support this need, which can be extended for an additional cost. 

To assist in tracking changes in your Formant organization and compliance with data security regulations, our platform also provides an audit log of activities within Formant made for your organization, along with associated timestamps. 

 

Customization

Not every visualization and template will fit each enterprise customer’s needs, as many organizations have fleets that operate worldwide across differing countries, languages, and applications. 

To bring internal teams and customers the right data, first, you need a reliable way to pipe and store all data from the fleet. Formant’s Cloud Warehouse Integration helps customers gain insights in a few ways. Users can elect to use Formant to build their analytics dashboards, or use a preferred BI tool to integrate with the Formant data warehouse and create visualizations. Another option supported by Formant is the ability to extract, transform, and load (ETL) data to a preferred external data warehouse, as well. We also offer the ability to export & integrate with a data warehouse or a preferred BI tool for deeper analysis, which can be connected via Formant, using SQL queries to develop visualizations.

Customers want to see data just as much as internal teams. However, their data preferences aren’t universal. To help customers see only the data they want, users can create Customer Portals that provide enterprise end-users with visibility into overall performance and efficiency trends and alerts them if any critical items or performance degradations occur. With these portals, enterprise teams ensure customers are provided with enhanced transparency and valuable fleet data from anywhere in the world. 

Keeping consistent communication is integral to ensuring customer satisfaction, so we’ve introduced multiple email features to enable an easier first touchpoint when a new user is created. This email is customizable to suit any branding and supports a variety of languages. 

Enterprise automation is still in its early days, and there are undoubtedly many challenges commercial fleets will face at scale. Although we cannot anticipate all the obstacles fleets will face, our platform will continue to work to address robotics needs at scale, especially as we learn from supporting our current enterprise customers. If you’d like to learn more about how Formant supports enterprise fleets, request a demo of the platform.

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