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Successful Autonomous Robotics Implementation

8 Critical Steps to a Successful Autonomous Robotics Implementation

Hans Dittmar
Apr 3, 2020

Given the amazing things happening with autonomous robotics, decision makers within many companies can easily imagine how efficient these systems could make their own facilities.

Research into viable options, however, can be overwhelming. There are many great systems out there – and you can automate to levels only dreamed of a short time ago. These systems are large, complex, and deeply intertwined with your processes, ERP systems, network and – most importantly – your staff.

If you approach automation hastily, things may not go well. The considerable investment in robotics requires that the system implementation is properly planned out, involves the right team members, and follows these 8 critical steps:

  1. Form a Robotics Committee.
  2. Specify a budget.
  3. Identify potential suppliers and platforms.
  4. Perform due diligence.
  5. Place your orders.
  6. Prepare your facility.
  7. Test and validate.
  8. Define ongoing maintenance needs.

Though some of these may be more applicable than others depending on your specific situation and business, all of these elements play an important role in the long term success of your robotics implementation.

1. Form a Robotics Committee

Implementing a new autonomous robotics system is a massive undertaking. You need a full Robotics Committee that represents all disciplines involved including: management, accounting, manufacturing, facilities, IT, and perhaps others depending on your organizational structure. This committee must exist for the long term since the only constant is change in product lines, production, quantities, and many other possible business pivots now and in the future.

2. Specify a budget

Figure out the true cost of implementing an autonomous robotics system. Robots typically range in price from $30,000 to $100,000 each, so being deliberate in determining the number needed and understanding related costs is essential to prevent budget overruns and surprise charges. Other charges that need to be considered include software, consulting, updates and service contracts.

3. Identify potential suppliers and platforms

Once you have your requirements identified and your budget defined, it’s time to find a list of robotics platform suppliers that align with your needs in key areas:

  • Robots (hardware)
  • Integration consultants
  • Maintenance company (if applicable)

Similarly, you may have to factor in hiring permanent internal staff to maintain the robotics system in terms of infrastructure, repairs, and software/system updates. 

4. Perform due diligence

After narrowing down suppliers to the best few, take a deeper look at their histories, reputations, and the relationships they maintain within their supply chains. Read reviews and articles online. Talk to their existing customers. Pursue whatever information you need to make an informed and confident decision. Once you commit to a platform, there is no way to change course without losing significant time and money.

5. Place your orders

To procure all of the necessary elements for your system as well as manage lead times and logistics, you may need to involve firms with specialized services in key areas, including:

  • Physical robotic platform
  • Consultation and contracts (including long term contracts)
  • Software, including packages, licenses, annual renewals, and/or updates
  • Contractor to provision your facility for Wi-Fi, electrical work, etc., if needed

6. Prepare your facility

Whether you’re doing the updates internally or hiring help, preparing your facility for an autonomous robotics system could mean initiating and overseeing modifications, such as:

  • Wi-Fi or other signal integration (varies by robot provider/type)
  • Floor rearrangement to accommodate robots
  • Safety fencing for areas designated as “robot-only”
  • Regular communication to facility teams on what’s planned and current status

7. Test and validate

Once all of these steps have been completed, you are ready to begin testing. You also need to verify that the efficiency you hoped to gain will be realized. Calculations need to include the intended savings and comparing that to the new process efficiency to prove the ROI:

  • Hardware testing – Robots operate as intended.
  • Software testing – Programs and functions work seamlessly, and people are appropriately trained. Software integrations perform as expected. 
  • Safety testing — Staff working in the same areas as robots are aware of protocols.

To ensure maximum overall effectiveness, it’s in your best interest to review testing with an ongoing feedback loop that focuses on system performance and safety.

8. Define ongoing maintenance needs

You’ll need ongoing services to maintain every aspect of the automation system: software updates, hardware repairs and upgrades, and process development. It’s also important to keep improvements top-of-mind. That way, you can leverage the system and ensure targeted ROI and profitability.

GMI Solutions, a contract manufacturing firm in the United States, went through this 8-step process when debating autonomous robotics. The major source of wasted resources revolved around the repetitive transport of products within the 50,000 square foot facility — a critical consideration, but not one that justified investment in any of the options that required huge sums to get started.

As a result, GMI launched MūL Technologies. GMI decision makers surmised that they weren’t the only ones looking for a simple automation system that didn’t require Wi-Fi signals, training, system integration, and other expensive complexities. MARC, the flagship product from MūL Technologies, is the simplest point-to-point autonomous cart that requires nothing other than a single purchase of a cart at an extremely reasonable price. It’s advanced technology, simplified to address practical needs.

Contact the MūL Technologies team
to learn more about MARC and just how easy it is to get it rolling in your operation.

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