Robotics In Small Business: What You Need to Know

Robotics is an exciting and rapidly growing industry in Canada, with many new innovations in robotics products and systems each year. If you want to start using this technology in your small business, here’s some things you need to know.

What are Autonomous Mobile Robots?

There are many types of robots, but the most common you will see in small businesses are Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) which can help transport payloads.

These “payload” types of robots have built in senses like a human. This helps them navigate the floor across a warehouse and deliver products to where they’re needed. The payloads they carry can be awkward, heavy, and different shapes and sizes. The most interesting and practical factor of these robots is that these are autonomous which means that they these transport materials across a building without human involvement. This is unlike other machines such as a fork lift or conveyor belt where the businesses have to hire separate and dedicated workers.

aro autonomous mobile robot artificial intelligence AMR logistics warehouse

How AMR’s will impact your small business

The automation of your business is a significant investment that will impact the day-to-day tasks and roles in your company. You need to, therefore, prepare for this change and consider how it will affect you and your employees. 

Depending on the sophistication of the robot, you may find your employees duties change. They could work alongside the robot as technicians or “responders” to help their electronic companions perform their jobs. 

Additionally, you may find push-back from employees; it is important to ensure that education is provided showing that AMR exists to work alongside them.

At the end of the day robots are a tool, and although increased efficiency is almost guaranteed, it will be up to your organization to steer the cultural and social impacts as your business’ productivity skyrockets.

Advantages of robotic work companions

One of the biggest advantages of robotics is that it improves quality control. For example, in a robotics warehouse system, you can automate your supply chain to ensure that each product is delivered to where it needs to go efficiently and on-time. Robots always want to keep you up to date on how they’re doing, without being annoying. Diagnostics on their performance and health are updated while they work, so you can check up on them remotely when you see fit. It provides consistency in your logistics process and reduces potential mistakes which can lead to wasted costs and time. 

Another advantage of using robots in your small business is that they minimize the risk of injury to workers in hazardous work environments. There are many jobs that are too dangerous for human workers like transporting heavy objects or dangerous materials at a chemical plant. Robots allow these jobs to be completed without compromising the safety of humans who would otherwise be at risk for injury.

Disadvantages of using robotics in your small business

One potential disadvantage is the cost of investing in new robotic equipment for your business. While new advancements in robotics have made these products more affordable, they can still be more expensive than traditional options, at least up-front.  This is where we at Aro are introducing more affordable robots for SMEs. Our robots can be added to a workforce sequentially, spreading these costs out over time as you build up your robotic workforce.

Another potential disadvantage is human resources related issues. If you introduce robots to your workplace, you may need to hire people with different skill sets to manage them or retrain current employees to work alongside their robot companions. 

Additionally, you might have employees who are unwilling or unable to adopt this new technology. Fortunately, it is shown that training can actually promote workers staying on board, with some companies boasting numbers up to 30% higher retention.

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Automation and robotics are happening. It’s happening fast and it’s happening in small businesses. With the rise of AI, robotics and automation there is a lot of talk about what will happen to employment and business. What we do know is that automation will change the way we work and the way we think of work.

Image Credit: Tima Miroshnickenko, Tiger Lily, Anamul Rezwan

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Aro Robotic Systems Inc.

9413, 47 St NW

Edmonton AB Canada T6B2R7


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