TracePen Launch Series 1: Problems of Today’s Robotics Industry
In order to present a viable solution to an existing problem, it is essential to first understand the nitty-gritty of the problems and the specific pain points that our solution addresses. In the article on Wandelbots’ history, we explained why and how the company was founded but in this particular article, we discuss the main pain points that exist in the industry which our product – the TracePen solves.
This is the first of a series of blog articles that will be published over the next few weeks leading to the TracePen launch. We begin with the most important question: what are the real problems?
Problem 1: The industrial robotic technology stack comes from the 90s
While the world has been making significantly rapid technological advancements in almost every aspect, it’s unfortunate that this has not been the case with industrial robot technology. The technologies and approaches used date back to the early 1990s and has mostly not changed ever since. Although the introduction of modern collaborative robots (cobots) allow for increased flexibility, the technology stack is still rather outdated. Also, modern community-based approaches such as the Robot Operating System (ROS) have not recorded much success so far.
Problem 2: There are several barriers perceived by SMEs about robot adoption
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) perceive several barriers when faced with the decision on whether the company should deploy robots or not. Some of these challenges in order of their decreasing relevance are indicated in the chart below. Considering all these, it becomes quite clear why most SMEs simply opt not to dive into automation at all.
Problem 3: There are limiting factors for mass-adoption of robots
SMEs are not the only enterprises that face challenges in adopting robots. Beyond the factors which have been already mentioned in problem 2 above, there are other limiting factors that affect the mass-adoption of robots. These factors include:
- Setup delay: Since the number of installed robots is growing by 30% per year while the annual growth rate of available engineers is just around 2%, the waiting time for a system integrator is approximately 4 months.
- Hardware dependence: Every robot manufacturer provides its own proprietary programming language and the environment as well as technology stack and none of the code can be reused for other robots.
- Expert knowledge required: Robots are programmed by specialized experts that run through extensive and expensive training for individual platforms. On average, one engineer can properly handle just two types of robots.
- Almost 75 % of the total lifetime costs of each robot are software-related. So besides an onetime investment in robot hardware every adaption of its software that is caused by a changed or completely new process step there is a high amount of money to be spent to automate any application. So the ROI is difficult to predict which discourages many companies from automation with robots.
Problem 4: The industry lacks a unified robot software platform
The industry currently operates in such a way that each separate project, even within the same company, requires a custom project-based solution developed by system integrators. Of course, this is not just costly but also completely time-consuming thereby creating delays that can be avoided by a unified robot software platform.
Problem 5: COVID-19 is pushing mass-demand for robots
No one could have anticipated such a global pandemic but it’s here now and it poses a huge problem for several industries. In many cases, hands-on production in factories is the only way such industries run, and so remote work is not an option. Removing the ‘human factor’ from such factories simply halts the entire production process because the necessary alternatives have not been put in place. Hence, critical production is not yet resilient to shocks like novel diseases. This puts the lives of millions of people at risk.
These problems may appear quite overwhelming and they really are. However, the good news is that they have all been solved! The next article in this series presents details on how Wandelbots has tackled each of these pain points thereby making robots available for everyone. The article will be published next week so subscribe to our newsletter and follow us across social media to get the right information at the right time. If you haven’t already registered for our TracePen Launch Webinars, now is the best time to do so!
“50% of all tasks will be done by robots in 2025”
World Economics Forum 2018
About the author
VP Business Development
automatica Munich, Germany
Hall C6 booth 417
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