Robotics Industry: The Commerce Aspect

In 2013, the Entrepreneur paper quoted Steve DiAntonio, a director in a unit within Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. DiAntonio said that commercializing robots was hard because one had to come up with a valuable application that would return investment.

It is incredible how far the industry has come in just five years because at the moment commercial robots abound in the market. Universal Robots, for instance, has supplied commercial robots to clients representing more than eight distinct industries.

Observers, experts, and critics say that the industry is actually at a tipping point poised to see exponential growth in the coming 10-15 years. Statista narrows this down further by predicting that in just four years, by 2022, the robotics market will be worth $240 billion from the current $40 billion.

With this kind of expected growth, the commerce advantage is also poised to increase. The commerce aspect can be analyzed from two distinct perspectives.

  • The developers’ perspective.
  • The clients’ perspective.

Robot Developers’ Perspective

For robot developers the commerce aspect means profitability. The past couple of years saw most developers focus more on research and less on profit. The idea was to come up with robots that would provide value to the client.

The research paid off because collaborative robots were born. Robots that were safer and as a result could work hand in hand with human workers. This has led to a massive demand across many industries, and robot developers can take advantage.

Recently, Universal Robots, having recognized the rapid global market growth, hired Chris Wilson as president of commercial operations.

Chris Wilson will oversee amongst other duties, sales operations, ensuring that Universal Robots’ commercial robots reach a broader market.

The Clients’ Perspective

For the clients, the commerce aspect means a return on investment. In essence, how soon the client will see a return on a robotic investment. In the current market, the ROI time for a robotic system keeps getting shorter and shorter. There are three key reasons for this observation.

1. Low Purchase and Installation Costs

One of the most popular collaborative robot in the market today the Universal Robots’ UR5, costs $35,000. The price is incomparable to the amount earlier robots commanded. Research shows that the cost of robots has dropped by 40% during the last ten years.

An even better piece of news for the client is that by 2025, research by AKR shows that the price will have dropped by 65%. The low purchase and installation costs ensure it only takes a short amount of time for a company to see a return. In addition, the robot provides more productivity.

2. A Short Learning Curve

A short learning curve is one of the critical improvements that has aided the massive acceptance of collaborative robots. Initially, companies were reluctant to invest more to train their workers, especially in programming.

Collaborative robots have simple programming that anyone, even someone with no technical background can learn. Rameshwari, an assembly line operator at Bajaj Auto made an interesting remark; that operating the advanced technology (co-bots) was interesting an easy.

The little to no learning curve allows the company to avoid extra investment on training and this improves the return on investment.

3. No Need for More Space

Earlier industrial robots had one disadvantage; because they were unsafe for humans, they required that a company builds specialized cages where they could work. Building these cages was expensive.

Collaborative robots, on the other hand, require no such measures. Also, if the company purchasing the robot lacks space, collaborative robots can be mounted on walls and the ceiling.

The lack of extra investment on space also aids in a faster ROI.

Final Thoughts

The expected growth in the robotics industry promises to benefit all those involved when it comes to profitability. Understanding the commerce aspect is an excellent place to start for anyone considering joining the industry either as a professional or a prospective client.

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