What Is Robotics as a Service? How to Spot True Potential in a RaaS Provider

While a company may offer “Robots as a Service”, the process often fails to meet expectations compared to a true Robotics as a Service (RaaS) provider. Learn the advantages a real RaaS solution offers over both “Robots as a Service” and traditional robotic automation.

January 25th, 2023 7 min read

Key takeaways 

  • Companies offering “Robots as a Service” are not always true service providers, missing critical components within their model.

  • A true Robotics as a Service provider is a long-term partner invested in their customers' success.

  • With real RaaS, adding robots to a manufacturing floor doesn’t have to be complex, time consuming, or require big-ticket capital investment.

Two men discussing the performance of a cobot they are using to assemble circuit boards

The “as a service” model started in software, where by definition it includes support and customer success services. As ecommerce exploded, and the sophistication of warehouse logistics grew, the same model was adopted by robotics companies in the AMR and logistics industries. Yet it’s still a relatively new idea in manufacturing, which has led to some companies claiming to offer “Robots as a Service” while leaving out those critical support elements.

This is made more confusing in the context of traditional barriers to automation. Many manufacturers who have tried implementing robotics through the old CapEx equipment purchase model found robotic automation to be too expensive and complex to implement, too difficult to maintain, and too specialized for their ever-changing business. Robots as a Service companies offering an incomplete solution may provide a more accessible financing model, but they don’t necessarily help manufacturers overcome those other barriers.

A true Robotics as a Service provider can do just that - quickly solve a manufacturing labor shortage in less time and for little to no capital expense, while providing a fully supported and complete robotic automation solution. Here are the benefits to a true Robotics as a Service solution, and how they differ from a less comprehensive offering. 

6 Benefits a True RaaS Provider Offers 

Once you know the attributes of a real RaaS provider, nothing else compares. Here are six authentic features to know.

1. Partnership

The last thing a RaaS provider wants to do is sell you a robot. 

Other automation providers look for the simplest solution for them, which often results in additional complexity and expense for manufacturers. A true RaaS provider looks for opportunities to add value and create a partnership where your wins determine their success. 

Sales calls aren’t full of upsells. They’re centered around helping customers identify the lowest-hanging fruit in their facility and then showing them how they can quickly and affordably automate. 

With RaaS, a contract is the starting point of the customer experience, not the finish line.

2. OpEx framework

Traditional robotic automation requires a massive upfront capital investment. A manufacturer can easily spend $250,000 from integration to operation, just on one robot.

Graphs from a 2022 Rapid Robotics survey of manufacturing leaders, showing the factors stopping manufacturers from implementing robotics, and the cost associated with automation projects.

Results from a 2022 Rapid Robotics survey of American manufacturing leaders.

True RaaS encourages manufacturers to view automation as an operating expense, similar to labor costs, rather than a capital investment. With this unique approach, manufacturers can save between 40 and 50 percent on labor costs, pay nothing up front, and see ROI from the moment their robot starts working. 

3. Flexibility

A true RaaS provider always looks for the most efficient, least costly solution to automating a given task. Because RaaS companies are invested in ensuring their customers get maximum utilization out of their robots, flexibility in this context means more than quickly adapting and training a robot on a single task. A true RaaS eliminates one-trick robotic ponies and works with manufacturers to provide an automated workforce that can be adjusted in response to product demand, customer needs, seasonality and more.

Smart Setup, only available with Rapid Robotics, ensures that every robot can adapt to and scale with a high mix manufacturer’s changing needs. With Smart Setup, Rapid can pretrain the robot on multiple tasks so anyone can move it between jobs in a matter of seconds, with no programming or robotics expertise needed.

4. Streamlined deployment

Many robotics deployments can take up to a year (or longer) to complete. True RaaS deployment is quick and efficient. RaaS providers use a combination of:

  • State-of-the-art vision systems

  • Digital simulation and training

  • A modular approach to work cell construction

  • 3d-printing of custom end-of-arm tooling for every task

Changes in how RaaS approaches development, training and deployment result in the following:

  • Minimum additional new equipment

  • Deployment in weeks, rather than months

  • On site installation timelines averaging less than 48 hours

5. Cloud-connected training

A true RaaS provider can continually monitor their products, push new software updates and ensure a robotic workforce of one or one hundred shows up fully operational (and stays that way) for the entire length of a deployment.

But what may be the best part about cloud-connected training is the ability for all customers of a RaaS provider to share in new developments. Any software enhancement to one robot in the fleet makes that enhancement instantly available to all robots at every customer site, meaning that even manufacturers with only a single robot get the advantages of a massive, connected fleet. 

Cloud-connected training also further simplifies redeploying a robot to a new task, even one it wasn’t pre-trained for.

6. Unwavering support

Traditional automation supports customers while they’re moving through the sales process. But once cash has exchanged hands, a manufacturer is left with the responsibilities that come with owning a robot, including servicing, maintaining and programming. 

True RaaS providers embark on a partnership with their manufacturing clients that’s built on a foundation of service and support. This includes:

  • 24/7 performance monitoring

  • Remote diagnostics and correction

  • On-site repairs as needed

Since the RaaS model removes ownership requirements for manufacturers, the RaaS provider is fully invested in making sure every product they lease is fully operational. RaaS providers don’t profit from integration or sales but rather from satisfaction. This means a true RaaS company is continually working to meet and exceed expectations in the form of unwavering support.

Looking for a Real Robotics as a Service Solution

If you're considering adopting robotic automation, and want to ensure that your chosen partner is a true Robotics as a Service offering, rather than a less comprehensive "Robots as a Service" rental company, here are a few questions to ask them:

  • How fast can I expect deployment?

  • Do you handle installation yourself, or will we work with a systems integrator?

  • Does your support plan include remote monitoring, and cover all parts and replacement?

  • How flexible are your robots? If I need to redeploy a robot, how easy will that be?

  • What hardware is included in our agreement? Is it just the robot, or are the end-of-arm effector, work cell, and other hardware included as well?

Bottom Line 

RaaS offers a solution to the labor shortage for manufacturers previously curbed by traditional automation costs and complexity. 

But the real benefit of RaaS is that it offers a solution without consequential complications. With traditional automation, robot purchases are attached to tedious and expensive responsibilities, from programming to deployment to maintenance. Robotics as a Service provides the product alongside its vital support with zero upfront cost, allowing you to focus on your growing business instead of operating a robot.

Ready to learn more about real Robotics as a Service and how Rapid Robotics can help you automate in weeks, not months? Contact us for a free 30-minute automation consultation now.

Rochel Maday headshot

Rochel Maday, Rapid Robotics Content Team

Rochel is a tech-savvy freelance writer with a passion for breaking down complex topics into easy-to-understand language. She enjoys creating engaging content that amplifies the voice of the tech industry and helps readers understand its ever-evolving landscape. When she’s not writing, Rochel enjoys watching documentaries (the later at night, the better) and going on adventures with her husband and their four children.

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