Global Businesses leaders and innovation teams are becoming intrigued by the productivity and efficiency prospects of autonomous robotic systems.
The unbounded reach and strategic importance of robotics has made every business open to both global opportunity and global threat.
“So, How are businesses going to prepare for this?”
The insatiable media drumbeat and the evangelising of moon-shot robotic projects combined with the harsh reality of a rapidly aging workforce, employment costs rising uncontrollably and our national productivity levels languishing just above pre-crisis level, is sending shockwaves through industry. These factors are intensifying the pressures on global businesses to harness robotic technology as a potential reprieve to today’s un-stable economic climate.
Those brave enough to get their feet wet, normally always succumb to the promises of off-the-shelf robotic platforms at the expense of bottom line operational budgets. These off-the-shelf machines promise to do just about everything businesses want them too, but they come with unattractive ROI’s, and the bitter truth is; humans are still more cost-effective actuators than even the most sophisticated robotic technologies.
In a recent interview for Wired, Ian Crawford from Birkbeck College in London, suggested that NASA’s next mission to Mars would be cheaper and far more successful if humans went opposed to robots, “Humans hold a number of advantages over robots. They make quick decisions in response to changing conditions or new discoveries. They are more mobile than current robot explorers. They can cover more ground. And they can drill for samples deep underground and deploy instruments, something a robot has never achieved on another body”.
Whilst this shows (albeit through a fairly extreme example) that human mobility and manipulation capability surpasses that of a machine counterpart. Robots certainly have an edge when it comes to executing tasks competently, repeatably, reliably, under constant operation, and whilst in unsavoury conditions. This bares a great opportunity to leverage robotic technology in order to enhance human productivity and efficiency.
The reality is; ‘One size fits all’ off-the-shelf robotic platforms are either over or under-spec’d for what your business truly needs. That means you’re paying for capability you don’t need and making inevitable compromises from the outset.
As a result, these platforms often don’t generate the competitive advantage you were striving for. Heavy infrastructure modifications, existing process and system disconnect and costly 3rd party service plans start to stack up against these once “destined to deliver unprecedented returns” robot enablers. The cost-performance payback just isn’t there… today.
So, what can you do?
Well, the technologies born from the 4th industrial revolution bring with them a new world; one where businesses don’t have to be content with the status quo and have the ability to carve their own journeys through the technology landscape. Tharsus have helped ambitious businesses like yours navigate this path. We’ve been here before.
With an end goal of Autonomous robotics in mind (like starting a business, I suppose) it’s imperative to recognise and understand the small steps that are going to get you to where you want to go; sustainably; in a way that pays back now; and in the shortest possible time frame with the least amount of commercial risk. It’s also important to understand the nature of the beast that you’re chasing; efficiency and productivity optimums are like wily sprites – that in many cases exceed our grasp – the trick is recognising that this is a journey.
Tharsus helps businesses distil their lofty visions into a series of machines that provide platforms to learn from, evolve with and master along that path to finding your commercial optimum, whatever that may be. “One man’s autonomous robot is another’s complex electro-mechanical machine”.
We believe the journey is as important as the destination.
Taking a progressive approach can actually be more cost-effective than buying pre-packaged off-the-shelf systems and allow businesses to be agile, pivoting along the journey if necessary.
Is it not infinitely more defining in the competitive landscape, to shareholders, customers and employees having a custom machine that you’ve progressively added capability to in-line with your evolving processes and systems, skilled employee head count, and (market/use-case) learning? – juxtaposed to an over or under-specified generic machine you may have once shoe-horned into place.
We believe It’s about creating adaptable products to suit your business, not adapting your business to suit off-the shelf products.
Author: John Hannah – Robotics and Autonomous Systems Market Lead. You can contact John at: John.Hannah@Tharsus.co.uk
If you’d like to talk to us about how robots can transform your business, get in touch with our CCO Tim at Tim.Ensor@tharsus.co.uk