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Automation providers vs Robotics resellers – what’s the difference?

Article by Megan Gee
black and white suit

Discover how to separate the real automation providers from companies that are just reselling someone else’s robots.

Consider the following scenario: You want to be ready for industry 4.0. You understand flexible robotics. You have seen the tech tree growing towards warehouse automation, and you want in.

Naturally, your next question is “Where do I get my robots?”

There are lots of businesses out there happy to say “from us!”, but you need to pick the right one. With so many competing claims in such a new field, this can seem very difficult. Broadly speaking, you can separate the businesses into two main groups:

Robotic resellers

As the name suggests, these companies do not make robots themselves. Instead, they resell warehouse automation equipment that has been designed and produced elsewhere. Their expertise lies in high-quality marketing, strong relationships with robotics manufacturers, and good connections with businesses that might need automation technology.

The quality of the technology on offer will vary, but the ways of viewing it generally won’t. When dealing with a robotic reseller, potential clients will be directed to youtube videos, displays on trade show stands, brochures, and explanatory pages on websites.

Robotic resellers will explain the specific range of the robot’s abilities. This includes the kinds of operations they can perform, and which specific ERP/WMS software the robots can work with. They will also provide manuals and other instructional materials on how their clients should go about setting the robots up in your warehouse.

Robotic resellers will also offer some ongoing support, usually in the form of six-monthly or annual inspections. Also, because robotic resellers have good relationships with the manufacturer, they will be able to import spare parts for clients to use to fix things, should any problems arise.

Automation providers

Like robotic resellers, automation providers may not make the robots themselves, but will instead often be selling robots designed, developed, and produced by other manufacturers. However, that is where the similarities between these two types of businesses stop.

While automation providers might not build the robots they sell, they will likely supply you with surrounding technology they have developed. Equipment that further enhances the automation solutions and provides a wider portfolio of options for the robot’s functions and abilities.

Wide portfolios of options are a key feature of automation providers. Instead of explaining what the robot’s specific operational limits are, automation providers will ask potential clients what they need the robots to do, and then develop the best possible tailored solution to achieve that goal. Automation providers work with you to provide a solution, rather than giving you the robots and leaving you to make a solution of your own.

To ensure the solution is as superlative as possible, automation providers will send a team of experts and engineers to your warehouse to oversee and assist with your automation solution’s installation. This is much more than just dropping off the robots at your front door. The software will be sculpted to allow the robots to work on your pre-existing systems, and training will be provided so your staff will be fully readied to work with and alongside the robots.

Should anything go wrong, automation providers will have a robust and consistently available support network in place. Spare parts will be stocked in the UK, engineers will be ready to come to your aid, and replacement robots will be lined up on standby, just in case.

Distinguishing the differences

While it is clear that these two types of businesses are very different, it is often only in hindsight that these distinctions become entirely obvious.

With so much on the line, it is vital to know how to separate the real automation providers from the mere robotic resellers. If you want your business to get the very best from industry 4.0, you need to find the very best in warehouse automation provision.

That’s why over the next few weeks, OW Robotics will be publishing a series of blogs highlighting important questions that you need to ask any business you are thinking about approaching to provide flexible robotics. We’ll be talking about what you should ask, and how to use the answers to tell if you’re dealing with a robotic reseller or an automation provider.

Check back next week for the first question, “Can I see the robots in action?”

If you’d like to see robots in action yourself, come and take a tour of the OW Robotics demonstration centre. The first of its kind in Europe, this centre allows us to display a scaled-down version of what your business could be using very soon. Book a tour today and see for yourself what industry 4.0 could mean for your business.

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