Too many small- and medium-sized businesses risk losing out on the next big industry transformation, says Søren Peters, CEO of the world's first digital robot hub, HowToRobot.com. The hub aims to increase robot adoption globally by breaking down the barriers to automation for smaller businesses.
Robots are spreading with haste among the largest enterprises globally. But the many small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are lagging behind when it comes to adopting robots.
This, however, is bound to change. The digital robot hub HowToRobot.com now aims to get a robot into every factory across the world by making automation easier and more accessible for SMEs.
"Way too many businesses do not have access to all the benefits of automation and robot technology because they are lacking the size and experts to succeed," says Søren Peters, CEO of HowToRobot.com.
"We want to change that. By giving companies access to the same tools, experts, and methods used by the largest manufacturers, we make automation much easier - even if you are not a robot engineer," he adds.
Companies miss out on their "robot potential"
One of the main challenges for SMEs when it comes to automation is a lack of robot experts globally according to Søren Peters. Without experts, the companies struggle with finding the true automation potential of their businesses, he says.
On HowToRobot.com, businesses get support to plan and execute automation projects and get connected with the right suppliers from the world's largest directory of robot and automation providers.
Companies across Europe, Asia, and North America have already started mapping out the potential in their business and get expert advice via the platform. A self-assessment tool helps them point out possible tasks to automate and provides an overview of the pros and cons of each project.
"Many robots end up as a failure because they were assigned to the wrong task. By following a standardized method used by independent advisors, the companies can ensure that robots are only implemented where they are most needed and capable of doing their job," says Søren Peters.
Preparation is key to succeed with robots
Preparation is essential if more businesses are to benefit from robot technology. A missing link for many SMEs is to know how much a robot can realistically save the business.
"We sometimes see that companies fall in love with a robot and buys it before checking whether it would be worth the investment," says Søren Peters.
On HowToRobot.com, companies are encouraged to calculate their automation budget before buying anything. Afterwards, they can send out requests for solutions to the more than 9500 robot and automation suppliers on the platform.
"Larger companies are used to dealing with many suppliers. Now we are making it easy for SMEs to do the same, thereby helping them find better solutions," says Søren Peters.
For OnRobot - one of the robot suppliers on the platform - a well-planned approach is necessary to get the industry to the next level.
"We see a much higher success rate when robot projects are well prepared, and the customer knows where and how much to invest," says Enrico Krog Iversen, CEO of OnRobot.
"We don't have to be robot experts"
One of the companies that have already explored their robot potential through HowToRobot.com is Hotec Polérteknik - a small Danish firm specializing in metal polishing.
The company consists mainly of craftsmen according to managing director Per Haugaard. They know much about polishing - and very little about robots.
"We used to think that robots and automation solutions were out of the question for a smaller company like us," he says.
With the help of an independent advisor through HowToRobot.com, the company discovered a range of heavy-duty tasks suited for automation to improve the working environment. They also figured out how much to invest in a solution and got ideas from suppliers on how to automate one of the polishing tasks.
"This project has completely changed our view on automation. When there is a structured approach to follow and advisors to trust, we don't have to be the robot experts. Now we know what we can achieve from automation - and how to get there," says Per Haugaard.
• HowToRobot.com is the world's first digital robot hub, launched in 2020. The platform helps companies plan and execute automation projects and connect them with the right suppliers.
• Companies use the platform to get an overview of their potential for robots, figure out how much to invest in robot and automation solutions, and get solution ideas from suppliers.
• The platform is developed by independent advisors and does not sell robots. Instead, it provides access to a global directory of 9500 robot and automation suppliers.
• Industry associations such as the Confederation of Danish Industry uses the platform to support and speed up the robot transition of their members.