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Robot Subscription Services Let Companies Automate on the Cheap

The plans cost as little as $8 an hour, helping smaller businesses dodge high wages and labor shortages.

Society has long worried that the widespread adoption of robots will displace workers and eliminate jobs. But rather than fearing the arrival of automatons, Shakerria Grier, a 27-year-old quality auditor at Georgia-based Thomson Plastics Inc., is relieved to get the help. In late 2020, Thomson began installing robots that take plastic parts, such as fenders for ATVs or covers for lawn mowers, out of hot-molding machines and place them on a conveyor belt that brings them to Grier. In the past, workers had extracted the parts, with Grier making the rounds among nine machines to troubleshoot for defects. “My job is way easier,” she says. “Before the robot, I would have to go to every station and make sure the parts are good. It was a lot of walking.”

Even Robex LLC, a traditional automation systems integrator in Perrysburg, Ohio, whose main business is leasing equipment to customers, has decided to offer robots as a service, dubbed Robex Flexx, to expand its customer base, says President Craig Francisco. “I believe if we didn’t have something like this in place, it would hurt our business eventually.” Francisco says the services model could become a quarter of Robex’s business in a few years. “With minimum wages going up and the need for employers to pay a higher wage, it’s becoming really easy to justify the Flexx program.” Even large companies are interested in the financing model because of capital-expenditure constraints for buying or leasing the equipment, he says.

Read the full article here.

Originally posted on bloomberg.com in March, 2022. Written by on March 31, 2022

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