RaaS: The New Robot Age Is Here

Automation Alley
August 25, 2022
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Robots have been around in factory settings for decades, but there's a new crop of robots driving Industry 4.0 innovation that are intelligent, flexible, and changing the factory floor as we know it. With software at their core, these machines are allowing companies to quickly and cost-effectively automate industrial environments to meet their needs. In this blog post, we discuss the growing popularity of robots-as-a-service (RaaS) and its benefits for small manufacturers.

Robots are vacuuming the floors of our houses. They are moving e-commerce goods around in warehouses. For decades, major manufacturers have used robots. Now, robots are reaching smaller manufacturers through robots as a service (RaaS).  

What does this mean for you, the consumer? It means fewer supply chain headaches, as we can use robotics to produce more products in America while maintaining low costs of production. That means less inflation.

What does it mean for you the small manufacturer? It means you now have efficient, on-demand access to automation services you may not have in the past.  

Does it mean the robots are going to take our jobs? No. It means the robots are going to help us perform our jobs. That means we’ll be more productive than ever. Nations with the highest productivity enjoy the highest average standards of living. And that’s something everyone wants.

RaaS is to robots what software as a subscription (SaaS) is to software. It’s a combination of SaaS and leased robots. Instead of a company needing to purchase expensive robot equipment, purchase robotics software, and hire IT professionals to maintain the software, they can choose RaaS solutions.  

The robotics software is in the cloud. It’s the brain for the robots. The RaaS company handles the software updates, maintenance, and other IT expertise that keep the robots running. The RaaS customers need only pay the subscription price that covers the software and the equipment rental. The robots do the rest.  

RaaS companies provide capabilities such as:  

  • Intra-hospital delivery robots
  • Warehouse robots
  • Security guard robots

But for industrial robots, the most impressive show of the reach of RaaS is in manufacturing. Industrial robots are now in small manufacturers because of RaaS. Formic, for example, is a company that offers RaaS service to small manufacturers for as little as $8 per hour.  

This is a growing business model that has built and deployed thousands of robots across a range of industries. By leasing robots and accessing a cloud-based subscription service, manufacturers can avoid the headache of buying and owning expensive industrial equipment and handling maintenance issues. Because of RaaS’ flexibility, scalability, and lower cost of entry, we only see this trend continuing to grow.  

Automation Alley
Automation Alley

Automation Alley is a World Economic Forum Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB) for North America and a nonprofit Industry 4.0 knowledge center with a global outlook and a regional focus. We facilitate public-private partnerships by connecting industry, education and government to fuel Michigan's economy.

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