Prospective robotics users can get their equipment directly from vendors or through integrators. Online resources have also emerged to aid adopters of automation. T.I.E. Industrial announced in October 2022 that it had acquired Robots.com and the RobotWorx name.
“This acquisition comes at a critical time, as the market for robotics is experiencing 25% and higher growth per year in certain industries,” stated Tony Wisniewski, CEO of T.I.E., at the time. “Our company is uniquely positioned to take advantage of that growth with a proven, repeatable solution to help ease supply chain delays and labor shortages.”
The global market for industrial robotics could grow to $81.4 billion by 2028 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 1.8%, estimated Zion Market Research.
“Customers will need resources like Robots.com to explore robotic equipment, and T.I.E. Industrial is ready to assist users in adopting or expanding automation in their factories,” Wisniewski said.
T.I.E. Industrial refurbishes robots
T.I.E. Industrial is a leading aftermarket supplier of CNC parts and repair services. The LaVergne, Tenn.-based company claimed that its “integration-ready” approach to refurbished robot sales can reduce the cost of ownership.
“T.I.E.” stands for “Tennessee Industrial Electronics,'” noted Wisniewski. For more 35 years, the company has diagnosed and repaired CNC machines and general automation parts from FANUC, Siemens, Mitsubishi, ABB, and more than 200 other manufacturers.
“I came from an industrial engineering background, starting my career in compressors and pumps at Ingersoll Rand,” Wisniewski told Robotics 24/7. “I worked in the aftermarket side of the business, then in global operations and human augmentation at ABB. I also worked at Caterpillar, and the common thread was the aftermarket side of the business.”
T.I.E. asserted that its customization of hardware and software will “make integration faster, easier, and more cost-effective for smaller manufacturers looking to automate.” It said it contributes to the “circular economy” and sustainability by reusing, recycling, and refurbishing equipment.
RobotWorx built a 'one-stop shop'
“As we moved into the robotics space, when we started conversations with new customers, the 800-lb. in the digital tools space was Robots.com,” recalled Michael Bush, vice president of marketing at T.I.E. Industrial.
“We found a lot of common links between CNC machines and automation, and we've been building out our capabilities over the past five years,” he said. “RobotWorx had done a fantastic job with content, complementing FANUCworld.com, our CNC site.”
“When the previous owners of RobotWorx were closing up shop, we took it from there, because it would have been difficult to build a long-term marketing plan to compete with Robots.com,” Bush said. “RobotWorx was based in Ohio, and we're in Tennessee and Michigan.”
With its decades of experience in robotics sales, repair, and service, T.I.E. said its acquisition of Robots.com makes it an “end-to-end partner in manufacturing automation.” The company also hired one of its former employees, said Bush.
In addition to its purchase of certain assets of Robots.com, T.I.E. said it acquired The Parker Group in 2016 and MASTER Robotics in 2018 to become “one of the largest OEMs in the industry.”
“T.I.E. is our main supplier for refurbished and new robotics equipment,” said Norbert Christ, president of NCT Inc., an engineering company in Tilton, Ill.
“We have partnered with them for three years and depend on their responsiveness, technical support, and on-time delivery to remain competitive,” he said. “With current very long lead times at most robotics companies, T.I.E. Master Robotics has most of what we need in stock or can deliver it within pre-COVID lead times.”
Robots.com gets renewed
”We're in the process of implementing our long-term vision for making Robots.com more valuable,” said Bush. “The first phase is to make it look more like one of our sites, with a slight revamping and rebranding. We also wanted to make it easier for customers to contact us through the site.”
In the next phase, T.I.E. Industrial will combine offerings but not sell integration services. “We have the product and application expertise to go further than just a robot wholesaler, but we're not integrators,” Bush said. “We're adding headcount for this resource to help realize growth over the next year.”
Robots.com will continue to offer parts and repair services, as well as field service.
“We see an opportunity to be a marketplace, and we want to support a lot of different ideas around automation,” added Wisniewski. “Other companies can participate, including our integrator partners, the OEMs themselves, and providers of ancillary services.”
“Robots.com has a good name in our space, and that's what we intend to build on,” he said. “As the industry matures, there's a need for predictive maintenance, but facilities don't have the expertise they used to—engineers who knew all their equipment inside and out and how to collect, use, and share data, so there's an educational element to our site as well. We're really excited about it.”
“It's like we've rescued a grand old mansion at the end of the block,” observed Bush. “The previous owners put a ton of effort into this site, and I'm glad that we're able to save that content and take it further.”