Like most businesses, yours likely goes through production bursts. Maybe these are predictable surges, like seasonal upticks in demand for your products.

When You Need a Clutch Performer, Rent a Robot

Patrick Varley Product Marketing Manager (Robot) | Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc.

Like most businesses, yours likely goes through production bursts. Maybe these are predictable surges, like seasonal upticks in demand for your products. Perhaps a recent launch exceeded expectations and you need help keeping up with orders. Or, because of supply chain issues, the parts that were delayed for months finally got delivered. Now you have a backlog of orders to fulfill ASAP.

In such circumstances, you may find yourself experiencing a critical short-term labor shortage. These fluctuations can hit every facet of production – from assembly lines to the warehouse. To effectively handle these situations, you need a plug-and-play, adaptable, yet temporary solution.


Augment Labor with On-Demand Automation

Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) is a subscription model offered by expert vendors who maintain a fleet of high-tech and configurable robots that can be tailored to your specific needs. Yes, you can lease robots! This flexible and scalable solution enables you to have robots deployed at your facility, though only while you need them. RaaS lets you integrate robots faster and at a lower upfront cost than acquiring robots through capital expenditure.

A vendor who specializes in RaaS can understand your challenges. They will have the expertise to supply the appropriately outfitted robot to enhance your manual workflows and help boost production. With RaaS, robot selection and implementation can often happen on a much shorter timeline than acquisition. Instead of weeks or months, when engaging RaaS, you could have robots in place in mere days.

There's no need to hire additional automation experts either. RaaS vendors supply knowledgeable technicians to perform the installation and program the robot to do the required task to your specifications. They can also provide training so your engineers and operators can keep the robot working optimally during the leasing term.


Low-Risk, No-Sweat Solution

The idea behind RaaS is a lot like how you rent a car. Rental car companies own and maintain their vehicles, then lease them to customers on an as-needed basis. Car rental vendors monitor their fleet and conduct preventive maintenance and repairs to ensure optimal performance. RaaS works in a very similar fashion. Vendors maintain and service their robots. They also store the robots when they're not in use. RaaS vendors continually refresh their inventory while keeping existing models in pristine working condition. Since RaaS vendors keep their fleet up to date with the newest robot offerings, end users get access to the latest technological upgrades.

Additionally, just as vehicle rental fees are based on length of time or mileage, robots can be rented on time-based or task-based leases. Then, when the lease term is over, the vendor collects the robots and you resume normal, manual production. The robots will then be serviced and readied for their next assignment.


Plug-and-Play Machine Tending

Obviously, there are major differences between cars and robots. We all understand the process of renting a vehicle, but the concept of how RaaS actually works may be challenging to visualize. Mitsubishi Electric's LoadMate Plus™ robot cell is a great example of a type of equipment that can be deployed as RaaS. It's an effective way to boost production in-house and increase utilization of existing machines.

The LoadMate Plus is a standalone, flexible, and portable robot cell designed for machine tending. It can be programmed to load and remove parts and materials for CNC machine tools, including mill, lathe, or drilling/tapping. This can eliminate the need for additional labor to keep your machines fed and unloaded. Thereby ensuring production continues uninterrupted during manufacturing surges or labor crunches. It helps maximize available uptime from the machine because here's no need for it to idle during loading and unloading. Plus, it's like gaining multiple manufacturing workers because the robot can operate during consecutive shifts.

Since they are portable and configurable, the LoadMate Plus can be moved around a facility to tend various machines and handle various part types. They are easy to program and adjust without robot expertise. The robot cells are self-contained and are available with a variety of safety features. The LoadMate Plus is ideally suited to provide flexible solutions for high-mix, low-volume facilities.


A Practical Solution for Complex Workflows

Mitsubishi Electric is a long-trusted provider of automated solutions. While we don't directly offer a RaaS program, our robots are present in the inventories of countless RaaS vendors who we support in order to provide the service. Whether you're new to automation or have relied on robots for ages, RaaS is a great way to flex your organization's production capabilities. It's not limited to manufacturing either. RaaS is also used by logistics, fulfillment, healthcare, hospitality, security, warehousing, and delivery organizations.

RaaS offers fast and easy scalability enabling you to respond to evolving market conditions and client needs. It provides more predictable short-term costs, requiring less upfront capital to get started. It's also a great way to “try before you buy” which can support your proof of concept to invest in robots as a permanent asset.

Discover what today's industrial robots can do to enhance production, maximize throughput, increase accuracy, and reduce cycle times…even if only temporarily.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of RoboticsTomorrow

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