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Five reasons why flexible automation offers rapid ROI

Article by Aisling Harrison
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Discover why flexible automation offers a much faster return than any of the alternatives

Flexible automation is fast in every respect. It’s fast at getting your product out the door. Fast at maximising your warehouse’s efficiency. Fast at getting your business a strong and healthy return on its investment. The solutions offered by OWR generally project an ROI of between 12-24 months.

To learn how this is possible, here are five reasons why flexible automation is so much faster than any other robotics model on the market when it comes to ROI.

1. Faster set up time

Flexible automation is simpler and faster to install and operate than fixed automation ever could be. Fixed automation requires complex arrangements of rails and conveyors and gantries to be built in place and assembled on site. Flexible automation has no such needs because the infrastructure around the robots is minimal. It consists of DM codes stuck to the floor for navigation purposes and tailored free-standing storage racks. This level of simplicity means there is minimal delay between arrival and activation.

A flexible automation arrangement can be brought online and operational in a matter of days. A far cry from the months and years it can take to see a working example of an Automatic Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS). This lack of downtime makes ROI turnaround happen much faster than any of the possible alternatives.

2. Flexible payment options

Flexible automation is flexible in more ways than just its movement and installation options. As it consists of discrete individual units, payments for robots are far easier to make flexible and tailored to the individual needs of a specific business and its situation. Full outright purchase can be arranged through capex and finance options are also available. These options are particularly valuable to businesses that are exposed to highly volatile peaks and troughs in demand, allowing more robots to be hired if and when needed.

The flexibility of payment arrangements makes return on investment far easier to see, and far faster to receive. Flexible automation is adjustable and adaptable in so many different ways.

3. Lower up-front cost

ROI is often much faster when the up-front investment is smaller, and such is the case with flexible automation. Fixed automation requires a very substantial up-front investment because of how extensive and elaborate it is. There are so many complicated moving parts and equally complicated fixed pieces. You are not just buying a fleet of robots, you are buying a very specialised and tailored building for them all to fit inside of and work around.

With flexible automation, you are buying a solution, not an installation. You need to spend less to get it running, so the returns can come much faster. Flexible automation might be a smaller investment, but it provides far greater efficiency.

4. Faster adaptation time

Market disrupting forces are all around us, and notoriously unpredictable. COVID-19 is just the latest in a long line of market-shifting external factors. While its size and type of impact might be unprecedented in living memory, events that tip the scales like this will happen again. When they do, your business needs to be able to adapt. With fixed automation, as its name suggests, adaptation is difficult to the point of almost impossible. Conveyors are literally bolted to the floor, and getting them to move is less about adapting what’s there, and more likely full removal and replacement.

Flexible automation can be adapted and adjusted with the click of a keyboard. Remote reprogramming can change the way products are moved and stored very easily. This allows businesses that have been using the B2B pallet-focused model to shift along to a B2C individual product operation as many companies have needed to in recent times. Flexible automation also allows you to adapt and shift to peaks and troughs in demand.

If your business needs to grow or change its warehouse shape, this can be done in a matter of days rather than months, allowing for you to continue receiving a return on your investment for the maximum possible time. Whatever circumstances come your way, your business will continue operating and your investment will continue returning.

5. Faster operations all round

You will see faster ROI with a flexible automation system because your business will move faster than ever before. The robots we deploy as part of our solutions can maintain speeds of between 1-1.5 metres per second, consistently and without slowing. Flexible robots mean that the 50-70% of the time that warehouse operatives currently lose to walking between bins is recouped back into performing tasks that need a keen eye and an alert mind. This allows you to reduce not only processing time, but also processing inaccuracies.

With their simple integration into existing WMS or ERP software, these robots can deal with upcoming orders seconds after they arrive, without any manual processes. Thanks to the range of different ways flexible automation can enhance and improve your overall business performance, your ROI turnaround will be far faster than you will see with the slower and less impactful fixed automation system.

To learn more about what we offer here at OW Robotics, come and visit us in person! Book in a demonstration at our state-of-the-art Robotics Demonstration Centre.

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