What Your Business Needs to Know About Working with a Robotics Engineering Firm
July 19, 2017      

If you’re thinking about hiring a robotics engineering firm to turn your business’ robot dreams into reality, you probably already have some strong ideas about what you want your final product to be. But choosing the wrong technological path or the wrong partner can lead you down an expensive, time-consuming path to a “solution” that meets neither your needs nor your goals.

Follow these tips to make the most of your partnership with your robotics engineering firm and increase your chances of success.

Consider commissioning a separate feasibility study

If you’re concerned about the feasibility of a large robotics engineering project, you may want to think about paying for a standalone feasibility engineering study to be completed prior to making a decision to move forward.

Certainly, you can wait and roll this into the process of interviewing and gathering proposals from potential robotics engineering firms, but often times these vendors will do just enough of a feasibility study to close the contract and get the work.

Paying for an objective feasibility study gives you insight into the process and the industry. For high-dollar or high-profile projects, it’s an investment that’s well worth making.

Understand the difference between a custom robotics engineering firm and a traditional industrial automation firm

Thirty years ago, “robotics” and “industrial automation” were synonymous. Today, however, robotics is largely separate from industrial automation, as the field of robotics can encompass anything from self-driving cars and drones to ground robots and even marine robots.

Now, the term “robotics” generally insinuates a high degree of autonomy working in largely unstructured environments. It may also mean human safe — or at least attempting to be. This is the biggest differentiator between robotics and industrial automation, which exists almost exclusively in highly structured environments including cages, robot work cells and human exclusion zones.

So if you’re looking for a solution that will work within an unstructured environment, or one that will operate relatively autonomously, make sure you’re seeking out a robotics firm in lieu of an industrial automation firm.

Find a great robotics engineering firm, and let it do great work

If your business is like many, you may realize that you could benefit from introducing robotics into your processes but may not have a clear idea of how they could have the greatest impact. Perhaps you have a specific project that you want to automate, or a particular task that you believe could be most effectively and efficiently handled by robots.

Don’t make the mistake of insisting your robotics partner follow your prescribed pathway to a solution. Instead, concentrate your efforts on finding a robotics firm that wants to gain a holistic understanding of your unique business needs and goals and then allow their real-world knowledge and big-picture view to guide you toward an integrated solution.

Get educated and stay informed

While your robotics partner should keep you apprised of specific news and advances related to your project, it’s never a bad idea to become more educated about the industry in general so that you can make more informed choices.

Industry conferences like RoboBusiness and sites like RoboticsTrends are a great way to keep up with the latest in the world of robotics, and other news sources like the IEEE Spectrum newsletters offer additional insights and guidance that may be useful.

Additionally, you may find some benefit in joining one of the many organizations aimed at supporting and promoting robotics and automation; such as the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. Regardless of what your needs are, there’s certain to be a group that will pique your interest and provide value.

Choosing the right robotics engineering firm isn’t rocket science, but it is important that you make informed choices along the way. Get educated about the industry. Understand if your project falls within the domain of traditional industrial automation or requires actual custom robotics engineering.

Commission a feasibility study before moving forward on big projects. And when you find a quality robotics partner, give them all of the information they need to understand your business and your challenge, then give them the leeway to develop the solution.

By following these guidelines, your business will be ahead of the robotics adoption curve and will be on the way toward making the most of its technology.

About the Author

Electric Movement's Daniel Reuter

Automating even a single task in manufacturing can bring tangible benefits to your business through cost savings and improved productivity.

As the CEO of Electric Movement, Daniel provides the high-level creative and execution direction for client and internal projects. In addition, he spearheads the company’s strategic direction,guides business development efforts, and sources opportunities for ongoing partnerships with technology providers, universities and research institutions and like-minded startups.

Electric Movement employs 20 talented full-time staffers with diverse backgrounds in automotive engineering, robotics, manufacturing, software engineering, mechanical engineering and more. Clients include household names in the tech industry, well-known EV manufacturers, Fortune 500 retailers, hospital systems, universities, airports and defense contractors, in addition to numerous startups.