On niche industry

On niche industry

I sometimes visit a company that is so ‘niche’ that it is hard for outsiders to determine what they actually do, what sets the company apart. They are that far away from common knowledge. The companies themselves know what they’re doing, of course, but they lack the words and images that make it clear to the outsider. Therefore, they need good visuals for marketing their innovations.

One example: robots in warehouses

Locating a robot on a shop floor can be done in many ways, each with its particular advantages and disadvantages. Accerion’s sensor does something deceptively simple: it compares what it sees below it with an image of the floor from its memory. The exact position of that image is known. I can clarify something like that with a drawing.

Why fictional situations are the best conversation starter

“We don’t build robots, but our customers buy them,” I heard. “And we’d like our customers to require the robot builders to put our sensor in.” What turns out: once customers have seen the benefits of the sensor for their own situation, they make that demand. That’s why we are going to draw those situations. For every kind of customer.

“That could be my warehouse.”

But the robots may not be of any recognizable brand. Of the settings with production lines and warehouses, every customer has to be able to say, “that could be my place”*. Fine if he goes on to say, “but with us it’s wider/more/different,” the conversation’s started anyway. That’s all your after. From that point onwards, the conversation will deepen, and will get to specifics soon enough.
And so it came about that I had to invent robots.
Beautiful right?

More on this type of illustration here

Visuals for marketing innovations

A fictitious situation at a client’s warehouse. You can use this drawing to explain to the customer everything about navigation, flexibility, etc, but the drawing is also suitable for reassurance (“oh, you also work for the automotive sector”) and to raise the right questions. With good visuals for marketing your innovations, you have a conversation.


Visuals to promote innovations

During a sketching session at the client’s place, and a round of sketching afterwards, we first figured out what situations needed to be depicted. And for me the question is ‘how to draw all that?’.

For example, should the drawings be in color? Or does the emphasis on navigation require little color?


Eventually, all robots became light blue, with a purple glow underneath to show a miracle happening. All “props,” roller tracks, shelves, people, barriers, are all light warm gray (for technical explanations) or gray on a dark blue gray (for customer situations)


Visuals to promote innovations

On top of the illustrations is a text layer, with titles and labels to point things out in the drawings. This is where text fills in the details and lowers the comlexity of the drawing. The purple “swoosh” behind the robots reveals the freedom of route choice on the fixed navigation grid.


Drawing for the sales people to explain how the sensor compares pieces of floor to images in memory (and makes new updates if the floor has gotten dirty!)

Visuals to promote innovations

Explaining how the factory hall is scanned, so that the robot always recognizes the floor, and knows where it is, even if you don’t completely set up the hall until later, or use only part of it. (Am I advertising now?)


Visuals to promote innovations

It doesn’t matter which pallet arrives when, you can place it in the right slot on the unloading sequence. Wow. That’s me entering the unknown. That’s a very attractive aspect of my job 😉