Robot Operations Framework

Robot Operations Framework

The Initial Proof of Concept

Buy or Rent

Companies that want to invest into robotics are presented with the option to either buy or rent (also called Robot as a Service / RaaS) robots. In manufacturing traditionally equipment is generally brought whereas in asset light logistics machinery is preferred to be rented (as already is the case with most manual forklifts).

When assessing the best options at the core the question is if a robot is a fixed machinery or a movable workforce. In that sense general purpose machines like automated/self-driving forklifts for Euro-pallets are easily moved from one place to another (inside a factory or between factories or between companies). So this type of work force is rather a continuous expenditure and can be compared to today's expenses on salaries and rent of equipment. However in the automated setup one forklift-operator oversees the operation of many robots.

In contrast also in the future there will be specialised equipment - sometimes robots, sometimes traditional automation. That will continue to be a classical asset investment since it can’t be easily moved or repurposed and will usually operate for many years in the same setup. Buying is then a logical consequence.

Especially companies in logistics have to recalibrate how they build up a tech-savvy, educated work-force that operates and works in conjunction with robots. The benefits are manyfold if managed well. Since the logistics market will continue to grow the existing employees can be trained on the new technology. This allows them to increase their productivity by 10x to 20x. As a side benefit their salaries can be increased and straining tasks reduced. In that sense logistics operations will become much more tech-driven and structured - resembling then more an automotive production line.
Companies in that sense need to invest into their workforce to become the driver of this change. And in that sense for logistics companies renting equipment is a logical consequence since contract duration is often short and available funding tight.

So once the question of Capex vs Opex is on the table it quickly becomes a strategic discussion.

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