ForwardX Robotics, a Beijing-based provider of AI and Robotics solutions, today announced it will offer Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) options for its collaborative mobile robots. Whilst also offering outright sale and renting options, the RaaS subscription-based model aims to encourage supply chain operations to invest in innovation by allowing them to upgrade their facilities without the large upfront investment usually associated with automation projects.
“The pressure on supply chains to deliver is growing with every day that passes and we know how much of an impact our solutions can have on facilities and their processes,” said Paul Qian, VP of Sales at ForwardX Robotics. “With our mission to empower operations to be at their best, introducing Robots-as-a-Service as an option is a no-brainer. Organizations have been going out of their way to keep the public satisfied during this time, so we want to make sure they have access to the best tools available.”
In a survey last year, the Economist Intelligence Unit found that 56% of high-level decision makers considered hard automation, such as physical robots, to be a high or essential priority. Since the pandemic began, two main predictions on how supply chain investment plans might be affected have emerged among supply chain and automation experts. The first follows the intuitive idea that cashflow problems will limit a company’s ability to invest and, therefore, adoption should be expected to slow down significantly. However, the second and more fascinating prediction forecasts that, while cashflow may pose problems, innovation will simply move higher up the priority list leading to continual growth in adoption. In either case, the RaaS subscription-based model offers a number of benefits over outright purchase or even leasing. For cash-strapped operations, RaaS lowers the investment cost necessary to begin a project by moving the cost from capital expenditure to operational expenditure budgets and allows for almost instant ROI; whereas, for companies prioritizing innovation, RaaS represents a lower risk option, and a far easier implementation process.
“The OPEX versus CapEx tradeoff is now relatively common amongst RaaS providers but the market now expects more than a simple financial twist,” declared Remy Glaisner, Research Director at IDC and lead for the Worldwide Robotics and Drones Strategies practice. “RaaS is primarily a transaction-based model for which each ‘transaction’ should reflect the creation of tangible business value for the user,” he added. “ForwardX is an excellent illustration of that new generation of robotic solution providers eager to innovate by balancing deep technological expertise with an open market mindset. It perfectly aligns with the rapid evolution of demand throughout sectors: enterprise users are not abandoning continuous improvement efforts but will almost exclusively sustain their spending only if solutions can immediately support their business’s ability to cope with highly volatile market conditions,” Glaisner noted.
ForwardX Robotics RaaS model will offer logistics and manufacturing facilities a number of automated material handling solutions aimed at improving core processes. The ForwardX FLEX and MAX solutions are designed to optimize goods movement across the receiving, putaway, replenishment, picking, packing, and shipping processes in warehouses, as well as raw material delivery, WIP movement, and finished goods movement in manufacturing plants. Customers, such as SF DHL China, ITOCHU Logistics, and TCL, have seen wide-ranging benefits from 200%-300% increases in productivity to 50% labor cost reductions.
“We know that the role of automation will continue to grow across the supply chain but investing upwards of $5 million on a system with limited flexibility just won’t cut it in a post-pandemic environment,” said Nicolas Chee, founder and CEO of ForwardX Robotics. “Our customers come to us looking for something better suited to their business and operational goals and we’re determined to help them meet those goals. RaaS is the next logical step to better align us with the needs of the market.”