Until very recently, many people considered robotic automation a luxury reserved for large corporations. The typical image of robots in action is in massive facilities like Amazon warehouses or car factories. With these assumptions, automation for small businesses can seem like an expensive trend rather than a serious priority for investment. But as small business owners face increasing challenges, such as tighter labour markets, rising costs, and faster delivery demands, they realise the importance of staying competitive. With big companies investing heavily in automation, can small businesses afford not to embrace this technology?
Robotic Automation is Scalable
For SMEs, robotic automation does not need to be a big investment. As the market for autonomous and collaborative technology grows, access to these robots is becoming a lot more affordable and flexible. This means the size of a robotics solution can be adapted and scaled to suit small operations without compromising the benefits enjoyed by large enterprises.
Market research firm IDC finds that organisations can lose between 20% and 30% of potential revenue each year due to inefficient processes. Automation works by simplifying these processes and deploying them as needed. Every process that is automated saves a business time and money. Just one robot can make a huge difference to the efficiency and productivity of the organisation and provide a return on investment.
For a local logistics company or a family-run manufacturing business, using robots could be part of a game-changing strategy to get ahead of the competition. Imagine an autonomous mobile robot taking on just one of the repetitive, time-consuming tasks in your business. What would your employees be able to do with the time saved?
Automation as a Service for Small Businesses
Small business automation has become more accessible and flexible with evolving business models from robotics providers. Instead of purchasing robotics equipment outright, companies can now hire robots such as Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) to spread the cost over a longer period. In these cases, maintenance and support are often covered in the rental package, so businesses can rely on a steady, low price.
Some providers even allow companies to pay for their robots by hourly usage, leaving them parked and charging when not in use. This can be helpful if you have cycles of busy periods and lulls. During a quiet period, you might not feel you are getting a return from your robotics investment, but without it, busy times could be much less manageable. Renting AMRs to keep things moving when demand is high can be a smart solution, requiring no changes to your existing infrastructure.
User-Friendly AMRs for Small Businesses
With any new technology, there is a perception that it must be complex and require lots of training to operate. However, like computers and smartphones, robotics management systems have become increasingly user-friendly. The software is designed to integrate with existing warehouse management systems, so businesses can programme their robots with ease.
The implementation process also requires little disruption or reconfiguration of the facility because AMRs can navigate your space without wires or magnetic strips.
A Wider Range of Robotic Automation Solutions for Small Businesses
We know that not every company is the same, even within warehousing or logistics industries. The beauty of a small business is that your operations can be entirely different from another, similar organisation. No robotic automation model is going to work for every business, so adaptable robotics solutions are something to celebrate.
Many providers, including Guidance Automation, are working on ensuring robotic solutions are as varied and adaptable as the businesses in today’s economy. Our collaborative AMRs can be adapted with a range of tops and modules, such as a roller conveyor to load items onto and off shelving, or a robotic arm. You can also redirect AMRs to carry out different tasks, such as loading and unloading vehicles, depending on where you need greater efficiency at that time.
Why Automate your Small Business with Robots
There are many reasons why small businesses should not dismiss robotic automation, and these lie in the benefits AMRs can bring to a growing company.
- Increase Efficiency: The Automation Trends Report 2022 reveals that businesses using automation to move materials have seen 35% lower operating costs and 31% higher productivity/efficiency. Regain wasted time by automating your business.
- Increase Capacity for Growth: using robots for repetitive, simple processes has enabled companies to redirect workers to higher-value tasks, helping them take on more business.
- Retain and Attract Employees: Robotics in the workplace create more time for tasks that require creativity, analysis, intuition and problem-solving. Despite common and valid concerns about robots replacing entry-level workers, AMRs are designed for collaboration with humans and offer opportunities in programming, maintenance and productivity.
- Save Space: Particularly for material handling, AMRs take up a lot less space than a conveyor and don’t need a fixed path to follow. They can adapt to multiple routes and avoid obstructions with ease.
- Reduce accidents: AMRs are programmed to avoid mistakes, unlike humans. They only select the product they are told to, and move at a consistent speed, preventing accidents. They cannot rush or injure themselves and have safeguards to avoid collisions.
- Stay Competitive: In materials handling, fulfilment, warehousing and logistics, manufacturing and even healthcare, robotic automation is gaining ground. With the AMR market set to grow to US$5.4 billion by 2026, it is likely that your competitors will also be automating before long. Small businesses that take on robotic automation, even at a small scale, will be more resilient and adaptable in the long term.
Guidance Automation and Small-Medium Business AMR Trial
The key to understanding how automation could benefit your small business is to build confidence in the technology and witness autonomous mobile robots working in your particular context. That’s why Guidance Automation is offering a Free AMR Trial to SMEs. Borrow our AMRs for three months to see the impact on your business first-hand.
Guidance Automation provides specialised robotic automation solutions for warehouse processes that are designed to be highly efficient and cost-effective. These include:
- Autonomous Mobile Robots (Otto Motors’ AMRs)
- Light-directed Material Handling Solutions (Pick-to-Light and Put-to-Light)
- Warehouse Execution & Control Systems
Our solutions are scalable, easily installed and offer fast ROI, making them a great choice for businesses of all sizes looking to streamline their operations and increase productivity. These solutions are designed to be future-proof, meaning they can be adapted to changing warehouse processes and technologies. This means that they offer long-term value, helping businesses to remain competitive in an ever-changing landscape.
For more information about automation for your business contact us today