Robotics has always been a dream for any MSME component manufacturer. Even though a robotics and automation requirement is mandatory for a company to reach higher productivity and improve the OEE, the high cost of the robot, recurring maintenance costs, and mainly the concern about the support from the imported robot manufacturer after purchase have prevented business owners, especially MSMEs, from going for robotic automation in India.
Ace Robotics Pvt Ltd (ARPL) leveraged this challenge and turned it into an opportunity. “By 2019, we started working on providing MSMEs with an industrial robot that can be affordable, easy to use, and less space-consuming. ARPL focused on addressing all aspects—from the pricing of the robot to ensuring robust customer support to maintain 95 percent uptime,” shares Abilash Chakravarthy, Managing Director, ARPL.
The journey, he says, has been very good. “For a robot manufacturing company, where all the supporting components like mechanics, software, and electronics are manufactured in-house, it’s always difficult. But we have enjoyed overcoming the challenges we have faced along the way,” he adds.
All machine tending robots currently accessible in India are MNC robots purchased and installed as a solution by Indian robotics system and automation integrators, which means that the cost of said solution is controlled by MNC robotics companies. “We are breaking that phenomenon and cartel by providing our very own Indian indigenously designed, developed, manufactured, and installed robotics solution for nearly half the price of competitors,” shares Aashish Surana, CEO, ARPL.
“So, we are pleased to have international competition raising awareness about the robotics industry since we have such a large machine tool industry market that no single company can serve,” he adds.
Helping MSMEs find solutions
“Today, the biggest nightmare for an MSME is daily labor problems,” points out Chakravarthy. “Whether it is permanent enrollment of blue-collar employees or contract labor, there are issues such as frequent attrition, indiscipline, improper work ethics, uninformed leaves, mobile utilization during work, and other unethical practices leading to firefighting for the mid-management of a mid-sized company or business owner in an SME, such as retraining, machine damages, tool breakages, inter-labor issues, etc.”
In addition, he claims that with the given working capital issue, the MSMEs’ largest cash outflow after raw materials is salary or labor costs. “If a business owner can invest in a robot, he will be removing all the labor-related firefighting that happens daily with an ROI of less than 24 months,” he believes. “This is a great advantage for an MSME owner to focus further on getting new business rather than on daily problems for executing the existing business.”
ARPL’s robots have been specifically designed to meet the needs of Indian MSME pick-and-place jobs like machine tending operations on a CNC, VMC, gear hobbing, or any other machine operations that have mundane, repetitive jobs being done by a human operator.
On offering custom-made automation solutions to MSMEs in India, Surana explains, “Our robots have been specifically designed to meet the needs of Indian MSME pick and place jobs like machine tending operations of a CNC, VMC, gear hobbing, or any other machine operations that have mundane, repetitive pick and place jobs today being done by a human operator.”
Citing that in the Indian Machine Tool industry, more than 30 percent of MSMEs do smaller parts that are less in size and weight, he elaborates, “For these purposes, if we install a bigger robot, it is a waste of space and money for the MSME owner. Instead, we have designed and structured the outer arm dimension to be the same as that of a human hand for lower space consumption and easy entry and exit of the machine, which can easily replace the salary expenses currently being spent by the business owner.”
Indigenous product development
For decades now, India as a country has been dependent on MNC robots for any automation processes, which makes them a privileged commodity or solution for the large companies of the country, while the problem of a reliable, affordable solution has been ignored by all. “Breaking this,” argues Chakravarthy, “our company Ace Robotics is India’s first industrial robotics manufacturing company that has successfully done multiple indigenous designs, development, manufacturing, and implementation of machine-tended pick and place robot i+ for Indian MSME companies.”
As Industry 4.0 becomes a basic need for any standard manufacturing facility around the world, he believes that automation, and robotics will be the go-to solutions for ensuring efficient, timely, and quality production in such a time- and price-sensitive industry. With global barriers higher than ever, he adds that imported solutions and repair work are becoming a major difficulty for all, and the cost is an issue in the current working capital crisis for all MSME companies.
To make the robot suitable for the needs of the MSME, Chakravarthy reveals, “We have launched the i+ series family, which are 6-axis, 360-degree rotating robots with a 1,000-mm reach and a payload up to 3 kg, namely the i+Lite and i+Duo. While the i+Lite is designed for single robot, single machine tending operations for 24/365 days of product or batch manufacturing with recurrent schedules, the i+Duo is designed and built for dual machine tending tasks with a single robot, allowing for extended machining cycle times.”
Challenges and plan of action
“As a technological company, difficulties and improvements have always been a part of our operations, and with our highly skilled engineers and technicians, we have always identified innovative solutions to overcome technical constraints,” informs Chakravarthy. “In the course of development, we have come a long way from single-thread processing to multi-thread processing, adaptive error compensation at the firmware level, and a secured data packet format to prevent any software corruption.”
As Industry 4.0 becomes a basic need for any standard manufacturing facility around the world, automation and robotics will be the go-to solutions for ensuring efficient, timely, and quality production in such a time- and price-sensitive industry.
He reveals his future plans, “Currently, we are operating in the 3 kg segment with dual models. We are working on newer models that support higher payloads and on 6 kg and 12 kg models, keeping in mind that the cost needs to be very low, and we have planned to launch these bots before the end of this year.” He further mentions, “We have purchased an industrial plot and are progressing towards setting up a world-class bot manufacturing plant in Chennai with all possible reverse and forward engineering possibilities in-house to ensure we have absolute control on the products and solutions we offer to our clients at the best affordable price point.”
Source: Ace Robotics Pvt Ltd
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