One of the latest sectors to see the benefit of the robot-as-a-service model is logistics. Believe it or not, the idea of RaaS ( or Robots as a Service) is not that new. Locus Robotics first introduced the idea back in 2014. [i] However, the COVID pandemic kicked the popularity of the concept for warehouse operations into high gear. While demand for parcel delivery service was at an all-time high, the availability of manual labor was limited, leaving operators unable to handle the volume. They needed automation solutions at a price they could afford.
In the past, installing a logistics warehouse robotics system would require either a huge up-front capital outlay or an expensive multiyear lease. This type of business model is poorly equipped to help customers scale up as needed or adjust to fluctuating levels of demand. Therefore, the resistance to adopting new technology was high because purchasers assumed a great deal of risk at the outset. A customer would need to be certain the high expenditure would ultimately show a worthwhile return on investment and be sufficient to their projected needs before committing to a purchase.
In contrast, RaaS allows organizations to scale their operations without a significant initial outlay. Ongoing software enhancements to equipment are included, done in the cloud so that upgrades can be made remotely. While typical RaaS contracts run from 9 months to 3 to 4 years, there’s a great deal of flexibility within those contracts to meet a customer’s needs. For example, fees might be charged on a fixed basis for each robot sent to a facility. Or costs can be structured on a per-transaction basis depending on the user’s volume.
The amount of time it takes a RaaS customer to achieve a full return on their investment depends, of course, on the exact terms of their deal with the vendor. The timeframe is measured in terms of months, however, instead of the years it might take to recoup the value of purchased equipment. The potential benefit is clear to any industry impacted by throughput increases and labor shortages: third-party logistics, omnichannel, electronics, pharmaceutical, and more.
By pairing robots with artificial intelligence, RaaS providers can automate repetitive tasks that once had to be handled by human beings. That lets customers magnify what can be done with a smaller staff—in the case of logistics, instead of hiring workers who process packages directly, they hire workers to oversee the operation of the robots, which in turn handle a far greater volume of shipments.
The catch is that to effectively integrate new technology and keep the robotic systems running smoothly, you need skilled talent to operate, monitor, and control operations. While a RaaS company might provide repair service on demand, how long can you afford to be out of commission until a technician can be dispatched? Having in-house experts is critical to ensuring that a company can use automation equipment effectively and efficiently. This can include robotics engineers, process engineers, and automation engineers.
Of course, these types of technical roles are among the most difficult positions to fill in any industry. The competition for engineers with the training and experience necessary to support a robotics solution in warehousing, logistics, or manufacturing operations is fierce. When your company is considering introducing or upgrading automation with RaaS equipment, Integress can help find the right talent to make that decision a success.
In the competitive tech hiring market, your company faces two uphill battles: finding the right specialist to meet your needs and convincing them to come work for you. As a boutique search firm focusing on the manufacturing, industrial automation, distribution/materials handling, and IT fields, Integress takes the heavy lifting out of finding qualified, well-matched people for your hard-to-fill roles. We not only identify candidates who fit the position requirements and your company culture, we also help you craft a winning offer. To find out more about how our high-touch, white-glove service can help you find the right automation hires, contact us here.