Daily management

3 March 2017

Robots, an essential revolution for SMEs

Robots and SMEs are not yet a marriage made in heaven. The introduction of such automated machines in companies still frightens many business people. Yet there is no need to be afraid.

If you have not yet considered it, perhaps now is the time. Robotisation is not merely a futuristic vision or fashion. It is a reality, in the same way as digitalisation (which entrepreneur would have put their money on a computer in the 70s?). And just like for any technological revolution, the sooner you start the better you will fare. Obviously robotisation is not the be all and end all but a means to continue to rival your competitors who are equipped with... robots.

A new generation of intuitive robots
“Intelligent robots can repeat a task infinitely once they have been shown.”

Around twenty years ago robotisation was reserved for big businesses, notably in the motor sector. Nonetheless the new generation of machines has evolved to meet the requirements of SMEs. To illustrate, cobotics, in other words collaborative robotics, an emerging branch of technology is developing “intelligent” robots. Endowed with a form of intuition, these devices can adapt in real time: you show them a task to perform once and they will reproduce it endlessly. This ability can be vital to respond to the need for flexibility in the manufacturing processes of SMEs.

A revolution in the making!

A robot cannot be installed in a SME just by snapping your fingers, it is not a simple machine. Such an investment implies a new form of organisation within your company. And just like any change, it is both a risk and an opportunity. The better you prepare and structure its integration, the more you will benefit. Are you wondering how robots will impact on your various flows, procedures, skills to be developed, return on investment, etc.? But you should also consider compiling the specifications which describe your needs precisely.

Is robotisation unrealistic and overpriced?
“Robotisation will cause a cut in jobs in the short term.”

The costs are curbing robotisation. Even though the amounts are falling with the rise of the offer, the investment is often considerable for a small structure. All the more so as, generally, profitability is only feasible in the medium term. As for any technology, robots also require expertise (to operate and service them). In addition not all SMEs necessarily have sufficient volume for automation. Last but not least: the issue of employment. Even if the conclusions of many studies are contradictory on the subject, in the short term robotisation will cut many jobs. Yet the phenomenon is expected, over time, to be compensated by a greater expansion which will allow for the creation of more qualified jobs

A necessary change for SMEs

Incorporating robotics is still essential for SMEs as they suffer from pressure on costs and, generally, are not able to relocate. Robotisation is looming as an opportunity to modernise your manufacturing processes. In this way you can guarantee a substantial gain in productivity notably through a rise in volumes and a cut in conception deadlines. The reliability of your production will also increase thanks to machine consistency and precision. Automation also offers you the possibility to develop new sectors of activity or to invest in new markets. The stakes for your business remain the same: upholding competitiveness and gleaning market shares.

Interested by technological innovation?