How Robots As A Service Will Change Manufacturing

by Sachin

Service-based business models have taken the world by  storm in recent years, offering everything from tax-filing software to IT infrastructure, and cloud-hosting services. As robot technology continues to expand in tandem with cloud technology, one of the next major service models to keep an avid eye on is RaaS, or Robots as a Service.

While industrial automation has been well underway for many years, those who sought to adopt robotic systems into their manufacturing operations have had to undertake expensive and extensive planning in order to successfully execute such a technologically daunting upgrade. Thanks to RaaS, it will be much easier and quicker for businesses to test the impact of implementing robot technology into their operations at a lower cost. Furthermore, those who decide to implement RaaS will find it much easier to scale their robotic operations according to operational demands.

Here’s a brief overview of how RaaS works and the impending impact on the manufacturing sector.

How Do RaaS Work?

The RaaS model, like other models, such as SaaS (Software as a Service) or IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) takes advantage of cloud-based technology to offer clients the opportunity to make use of robot technology without having to deal with the plights of in-house research and development, maintenance, upgrades and troubleshooting. Its flexible nature ensures that there’s a business solution for any prospective client. For instance, customers can choose to rent or lease-purchase robots and related products and services rather than commit to purchasing them upfront.

The Benefits

SMEs, small and medium-sized enterprises (which represent 99 per cent of EU businesses), have the most to gain from RaaS. Robot technology might be advancing at a rapid pace, but it takes an incredible amount of funding and brainpower to make this evolution possible. Without RaaS, SMEs simply do not have the resources or the funding to adopt robot technology in a competitive manner.

RaaS removes major financial entry barriers, so that businesses aren’t on the hook for a large, up-front investment for something they may not use very often. In terms of scalability, pay-as-you-go automation provides customers with the ability to quickly implement (or move away from) robots as needed. Finally, RaaS provides SMEs a way to test robot adoption to determine if it’s a suitable option, without putting them through a costly purchasing plan. Given all of these benefits, it’s hardly surprising that just under half of all mobile robotic deployments will likely be taken care of by RaaS by 2021.

Application and Success Stories

As futuristic as it may seem, any well-informed robotics technician, engineer or manager will tell you, RaaS is actually already here. Though it may not yet be fully mature as a model, it has been a major service to industries, such as Big Agriculture. In fact, industry experts predict an impending agricultural revolution as a result of precision farming. This new era of farming will be resultant of big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and robots that will provide improved yields and reduced growing costs over the next few years. Companies, such as Driscoll’s, are already experimenting with the robot scene by working with RaaS start-ups, such as Harvest CROO Robotics.

In other industries, such as logistics, RaaS is also proving to be an alluring model for companies such as DHL Supply Chain. This prominent logistics giant has paired with Locus Robotics in recent years, which has pioneered providing warehouse robotics as a service. While many people have espoused fears of robots completely replacing their jobs, Locus Robotics actually provides what are known as “collaborative robots” to their customers, which pair with human workers to take on what are often menial, back-breaking tasks. Thus, increasing overall worker productivity.

By simultaneously lowering the financial barrier for entry and making it easier for businesses to scale up and down as needed, RaaS will transform the manufacturing landscape in the years to come. It will also make technologically-sophisticated operations more readily available and adaptable to changing demands, increasing profits across sectors and encouraging manufacturers with ambitious plans to scale and grow.

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