The Growing Trend of RaaS
There are a lot of things working to reshape the traditional manufacturing business model, including rising labor shortages, competitive global markets, and automation. Users are looking for flexible automation applications that would allow them to dip their toes in the water, but most small or mid-sized manufacturers can’t afford a $60,000 industrial robot.
From automotive and healthcare to surveillance and automotive, small and medium sized companies are taking advantage of automation applications and robotic automation on a rental basis. A manufacturer that has never used a robot before now has the option to use RaaS (Robots as a Service) for experimentation in production. For example, they can trial a SCARA (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm) robot in assembly applications. The manufacturer is then able to prove whether or not a robot is a worthy investment for that part of their production line. They’ll have the necessary evidence of ROI they need to feel safe in their decisions—before they spend the money.
Although it’s a relatively new concept for the supply chain industry, ABI Research predicts that by the year 2025, there will be more than 4 million robots in operation at 50,000 warehouses around the globe. (Source: https://www.designnews.com/automation-motion-control/manufacturing-ready-raas/131126058562584)
RaaS and Manufacturing
RaaS doesn’t just mean buying and using a robot in your manufacturing processes. It also means renting machines when they’re needed, as well as utilizing robotics as a cloud service. As a cloud service, this allows companies to store data across more than one place. While the end user owns the robot, the data storage is on a service basis. The robot gathers the data from shared software (SaaS) before storing it into the cloud-based system. Operators can then access that data, which can be related to robot performance, productivity, and maintenance.
When it comes to renting RaaS, it’s not unlike a Netflix subscription. The manufacturer uses the robots when they need them, and they always have the opportunity to cancel their agreement and return the robot at any time.
The Future of RaaS
Thanks to its flexibility and low cost of entry, RaaS is a fast-growing trend. Despite this, however, manufacturers are still figuring out if it’s really the most cost-effective option. It certainly seems easy on the wallet, but for some, there are several requirements that need to be met before a short-term or long-term investment is permitted. In this way, RaaS is still in its infancy. While service models will continue to introduce affordable ways for purchasing automation, access to used, obsolete, or discontinued automation parts will prove just as valuable to the industry.
The most valuable thing for these smaller manufacturers is the option to gradually introduce automation into their facilities. This approach is more practical, more cost-effective, and allows the manufacturer to not only justify, but make way for future growth in technology.
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