Robotics

Lux establishes framework for selecting robotics vendors

7th July 2020
Alex Lynn

Businesses are increasingly using robotics across a wide variety of industries, but many companies still fail to understand what’s currently possible with today’s technology or which vendors can provide the solutions they need. In its new report, ‘Building Robotics Solutions’, Lux Research has created a framework for selecting robotics vendors based on the key capabilities and level of customisation required.

Lux analyst and lead author of the report Josh Kern said: “Most companies turn to automation and robotic solutions to deal with labor shortages, which is common in industries with repetitive tasks that have a high employee turnover rate. Companies also frequently use robots to automate dangerous tasks, keeping their employees out of harm’s way.”

Robots were once mainly found in manufacturing but are now making their way into public spaces like retail stores and, in some cases, are working side-by-side with humans, prompting developers to rethink their designs for both safety and consumer-friendliness.

With so much proliferation in robotics use cases and so many different features and vendor types to choose from, navigating this landscape can be challenging.

Kern added: “Companies should follow a structured framework to identify a robotics vendor. If an off-the-shelf solution doesn’t exist for a certain use case, companies should evaluate vendors on their technical capabilities and customisation options.”

Those criteria include precision and accuracy, autonomy, simplicity of the user interface, scalability, and safety. Companies will find that the level of customisation varies between different types of vendors like research institutes, robotics contractors, and those offering semicustomised or off-the-shelf platforms.

In terms of vendors, “Research organisations and robotics contractors offer the highest precision and most autonomous robots,” said Kern, whereas “off-the-shelf platforms can be deployed quickly, but are generally only used for a single use case.”

Certain industries, such as logistics and manufacturing, are already very mature in their use of robotics and will easily find autonomous solutions in off-the-shelf platforms. The industries with the least robotics maturity, such as the chemicals and energy industries, will need to invest in customised, advanced solutions to meet their needs for highly autonomous robots. Lux Research cautions that many of these novel, customised solutions are five to ten years away from making a significant impact in those industries.

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