How small manufacturers can overcome uncertainties
Small manufacturers are turning to robotics to overcome the challenges of uncertain supply chains and spiraling costs while still delivering orders on time. For many small manufacturers, the cost of robotics remains a barrier however.
Even with the cost of entry-level industrial robotics systems dropping nearly 50% in the last decade, small manufacturers are cautious about taking on more debt. The idea of taking on a capital expense when interest rates to finance purchases are unpredictable stops them from buying new equipment.
Instead of purchasing robotics machinery upfront, small manufacturers rely on Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) providers specializing in defining the optimal mix of robotics systems, software, and services in exchange for a monthly fee. Small manufacturers get the robotics expertise they need on an as-needed basis. The subscription is a monthly expense that stays the same throughout a contract. Small manufacturers say it’s a small price to pay for automation; best of all, it doesn’t fluctuate over time.
What is Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS)?
Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) enables small manufacturers to access and use advanced robotics technology without large upfront investments through flexible, subscription-based contracts. This helps small manufacturers boost productivity, quality, and efficiency while cutting labor costs. RaaS automates dangerous, repetitive tasks to help small manufacturers overcome labor shortages.
Because the compelling idea of paying for robotics support as a subscription is catching on so fast, the RaaS market is expected to soar in value to $78.4 billion by 2030.
The main providers of RaaS solutions to small manufacturers include ABB and Rapid Robotics. RaaS providers who also offer cloud-based warehouse automation include Geek+ and Locus Robotics. InVia Robotics is considered one of the most affordable entry-level subscription-based RaaS services. Another is industrial robot and factory automation specialist KUKA AG. Small manufacturers partner with these companies to improve efficiency, productivity, and quality while lowering costs.
Top 10 ways RaaS helps small manufacturers compete
Small manufacturers struggle to compete with larger companies due to resource constraints. However, RaaS can level the playing field. Here are 10 ways RaaS helps small manufacturers compete:
1. Reduces costs and makes them more controllable. By eliminating the need for large upfront investments, RaaS helps small manufacturers save capital that can be reinvested in other business areas. RaaS providers also typically handle maintenance and repairs, reducing operational costs.
2. Measurable productivity increases. When robotics systems are integrated with real-time production and process monitoring, small manufacturers can gain as many insights into operations as larger manufacturers. Knowing why and how to improve productivity is key to winning more sales. RaaS gives manufacturers the tools to excel and scale production to optimal levels.
3. Improved product and process quality. When robotics are fine-tuned to a given manufacturer’s workflow, the entire plant can perform tasks with consistent accuracy and precision, leading to fewer defects and higher quality products This also contributes to higher levels of customer satisfaction and boosts brand reputation.
4. Enhanced production flexibility. RaaS allows manufacturers to scale their robotic workforce up or down quickly and easily based on demand fluctuations. This flexibility helps them adapt to changing market conditions and respond to new opportunities.
5. Access to advanced technology. By relying on RaaS solution providers, manufacturers are implementing and experimenting with new robotic solutions that could significantly optimize their manufacturing processes. This access helps keep pace with industry trends and potentially discover new methods or practices that could give them a competitive edge.
6. Improved worker and plant safety. By automating dangerous or repetitive tasks, RaaS can help reduce workplace injuries and improve employee safety. This can lead to lower worker compensation costs and a more positive work environment.
7. Enhanced employee satisfaction and retention. By freeing employees from mundane tasks, RaaS allows them to focus on higher-value activities that utilize their skills and knowledge. Providing workers with more opportunities to use their skills increases job satisfaction and employee retention.
8. Reducing environmental impact and increasing sustainability. Robots can be programmed to be more energy-efficient than traditional manufacturing processes. Small manufacturers rely on RaaS provider partners to help them achieve sustainability standards specific to their industries. Staying in compliance with sustainability standards is a differentiator for small, fast-growing manufacturers competing with larger competitors who may lag in this critical area to customers.
9. Improved supply chain efficiency. RaaS can automate warehouse and logistics operations, leading to improved inventory management, reduced shipping costs, and faster delivery times.
10. Open up new business opportunities. RaaS can enable small manufacturers to take on new projects and contracts that were previously out of reach due to limitations in production capacity.
By leveraging the power of RaaS, small manufacturers can overcome their size limitations and compete effectively in the global marketplace. This innovative approach is paving the way for a future where small businesses can thrive and contribute meaningfully to the world economy.
Download the DELMIA eBook, Enabling Digital Continuity with the Robotic Virtual Twin, to learn more about how DELMIA Robotics solutions can help companies achieve intelligent, optimized, and autonomous manufacturing with artificial intelligence and robotics.
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