Technology has made robotics less expensive. What once seemed like the far future is now an everyday reality for many small businesses, particularly those in the manufacturing, assembly, and even food-service industries. Adding a few robots at a time can make the small business workplace better for customers and employees. Everyone wins when you embrace new technology, no matter how small your business might be.
By increasing productivity
Skyline Windows LLC, a small business in the South Bronx, New York City, has outsourced several menial tasks to robots.
“It allows us to be more efficient — and our plan is to buy more of these robots when we can,” said Matt Kraus, senior vice president.
There are a few places where you absolutely need a human. Customer service often requires a live person.
Other things, like transferring a box from one place to the next, don’t exactly require all of the brain power that a human is capable of providing, even though artificial intelligence is improving for things like inspection. By letting robots fill the gaps, you’re freeing up people to be productive in ways that only people can. Your employees will be able to provide better service to the people who depend on you.
By reducing the potential for error
Humans are naturally prone to error, especially when multitasking. Have you ever put your car keys on your shelf and taken your book to your car? When a person makes a simple slip-up like that at work, it can have serious consequences. If something goes wrong at a single point on an assembly line or in a factory, that error affects everyone else all the way down.
The regional sales manager there reported: “Using Veolia’s Touch Free technologies resulted in a highly effective turnaround that saved this customer two weeks in turnaround time and reduced their hard costs by $1.2 million.”
Using robotics to automate small tasks ensures that everything gets where it needs to go, no matter how redundant and tedious it may be. Since the machine has a sole dedicated job, it won’t make any errors. All you need to do is check and periodically maintain your robotics.
By improving small business culture
The culture in your workplace is very important. It’s what keeps the spirit of your team alive and allows them to accomplish great things. Embracing innovations that prioritize your people will strengthen your company culture.
You’re automating monotonous tasks and giving your employees more time and freedom to move. You’re bringing technology into your workplace that will allow them to do their jobs better. You’re making your environment a better place to work in. The better robotic equipment you have, the happier your employees will be.
Bringing in robots doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to release employees they’re partially replacing. It means that you get to elevate their job titles. Employees can be retrained to work alongside robotics. That’s exactly what Stewart McMillan, CEO of Task Force Tips Inc., does when his small business brings in new robots.
“You can sit down with these things and, in a matter of minutes, watch a couple of YouTube videos and know how to do basic programming,” he said, making the training easy and fun.
By making the workplace safer
Brian Dillman, area sales manager at Universal Robots A/S, says that people turn to his company to make their workplaces safer. “Our robots do the dirty, dull, and dangerous tasks people don’t want to do,” he said.
Robots are often used to do dangerous jobs. Factories and lines often have heavy machinery that runs hot and has sharp edges.
Putting a simple robot in the line of fire is a lot less dangerous. It can predictably move in sync with the machinery it’s assisting, and it can’t be injured. In the long run, these robots can save you a lot of money and heartache. It’s easier to repair a robot than it is to repair a finger that might get crushed in a hydraulic press.
Investments in robotics are investments in the future of your small business. With the productivity you’re gaining, you might even be able to grow your business at a rate much faster than what you had initially expected.
About the author:
Rachel Jackson is senior content manager at NYBizDb, an online source of relevant business information. She is a mother of two boys and loves to hike and write about travelling, education, and business. Jackson is also a great fan of sustainable living and a strong supporter of the sharing economy.