Rent-a-robot concept delivers affordable automation to warehouse operators

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Tompkins Robotics Staff
Tompkins Robotics Staff

Time was that a commitment to a logistics warehouse robotics system meant significant up-front capital outlays or costly and inflexible multiyear leases. Today, warehouse users can gain the productivity benefits of a robotics solution, whether they be stationary arms for picking and sorting or autonomous mobile robots that meander around a facility, through customized subscription agreements that don’t wreak havoc with users’ budgets.

Robots as a service (RaaS) isn’t a Johnny-come-lately. Locus Robotics, based in Wilmington, Massachusetts, pioneered the concept in 2014 and is still considered the leader. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated RaaS’ already-growing popularity. Warehouse operators facing sudden spikes in parcel delivery volumes and insufficient manual labor to handle the throughput began seeking affordable automation solutions. Robotics vendors responded with a model patterned after the more established software-as-a-service strategy.

For little down, businesses can scale their warehouse operations without writing big checks or absorbing the expense of hardware maintenance and upgrades. As with any “as a service” relationship, an RaaS agreement includes ongoing software enhancements, all of which are done in the cloud.

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