Robotics Companies

Part
01
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Part
01

Case Studies - Successful Robotics Companies; Part One

Some successful robotics companies include ABB Robotics (ASEA Brown Boveri), Milacron, and Yaskawa. Milacron and ABB Robotics (ASEA Brown Boveri) pioneered advances in robotics and are among the world's first manufacturers of microcomputer-controlled robots. Both of them designed microcomputer-controlled robots for the industrial segment as far back as 1974, and several decades later, they are still pioneering innovations in the robotics sector. Research and development have been a "cornerstone of ABB's business model." Yaskawa Motoman leverages the "highest level of component development," as well as small series production and prototype construction, as a decisive competitive advantage to stay unbeaten/successful and adapt to changes in the robotic industry.

ABB

  • The website of ABB is accessible via this link.
  • ABB Robotics (ASEA Brown Boveri) is one of the most successful robotics companies based on revenue, innovative robots created, and the duration of its operation. Insights uncovered from its website reveals that it has been operational for over 40 years. The IRB 6 robot, is an innovative product of ABB that "kick-started the modern industrial robotics era." Several decades later, (in 2015), ABB made history again by producing YuMi, the "world's first truly" collaborative robot that operates with dual-arms.
  • ABB reported revenue of US$9.14 billion under the Robotics and Motion division in 2019.
  • A 2019 publication of the University of Udine on advances in historical studies reveals that, in 1974, a Swedish company ASEA (now known as ABB) commenced the production of "robots of the famous and successful IRB series." These robots were well "known worldwide" and had a typical orange color. The first robot of the IRB series was issued for over 20 years (the IRB-6) and was primarily employed on productive sites to handle complex tasks such as machining, arc-welding, among other tasks.
  • IRB-6 was well-known for its ability to maneuver its way smoothly along continuous paths.
  • Today, ABB is still operating its robotics line of business and is a leading supplier of industrial robots as well as equipment, robot software, and complete application solutions. ABB is currently present in 53 countries and has installed over 400,000 robots. ABB provides a broad network of services and solutions for the robotics industry.
  • In 2002, ABB became the first company in the world, to sell up to 100,000 robots. In 2005, ABB launched 55 new products as well as robot functions, and four new robots (IRB 660, IRB 4450S, IRB 1600 and IRB 260).

Verticals Served

  • Apart from manufacturing robots that serve verticals/companies in welding and fabrication (companies that use robots for "machining, arc-welding," among other tasks), ABB provides robotic products and solutions for the "food and beverage" verticals.
  • Fleet assessment companies, mining companies (coal mining companies), and transport companies are also among the consumers of ABB robotic products and services.

How ABB Has Stayed Successful/How it Adapts to Changes in the Robotic Industry

  • ABB revealed that it leverages research and development projects in robotics/the use of AI in robotics for a while to stay unbeaten/successful and adapt to changes in the industry. Research and development have been a "cornerstone of ABB's business model." However, its research projects don't get much visibility until they get announced as new product releases/fully-baked products.
  • ABB uses innovation to stay competitive, relevant, and successful amidst changes that have occurred in the robotic industry. ABB used innovations such as the IRB 6 robot, which was an innovative product to kick-start "the modern industrial robotics era." Several decades later, (in 2015), ABB made history again by producing YuMi, the "world's first truly" collaborative robot that operates with dual-arms.
  • ABB has stayed successful and adapted to changes in the robotics industry by staying at the forefront and pioneering innovations in the robotics sector. Recently, ABB emerged winner on the list of the top ten most competitive as well as innovative products in the robot industry. ABB was acknowledged for its leading automation products as well as solutions for fully demonstrating technologies that portray its "market leadership in the automation field."
  • ABB produces trusted products to stay successful and beat the competition in the robotics industry that is continuously changing. Its locally developed ACS580MV was recently awarded the "top 10 most trusted products." In 1998, ABB launched the FlexPicker robot, which was at that time, the "world's fastest pick and place robot." The company has stayed ahead of several other innovations in the robotic segment since its inception.
  • One of ABB's innovations is making its robots safe and careful when working near humans. ABB has innovated a mode for its robots, which makes them safer "to work together with" and calls this innovative technology as SafeMove2 (second edition). Safe Move is usually installed on the robot controller and linked to sensors that continuously records the position of any present operators.
  • Depending on an operator's position, ABB robots that have SafeMove2 function at different speeds. They function slower when a human is closer to them. The zones around the robots are supervised by sensors that control the speed of the robot.
  • To stay competitive and successful, ABB is currently leading the way with innovations that are vital to an autonomous industrial future. Today's world has unprecedented technological changes, and digitalization and ABB is striving to write the future with investments and innovations in autonomous industrial systems that can adapt as well as "learn in changing situations." These new systems aim to improve productivity, energy efficiency, as well as safety.
  • ABB also focuses on innovative solutions that are cost-effective, thereby appealing to consumers. ABB's single intuitive interface provides preventive, proactive, as well as timely supports for ABB customers and covers robot condition monitoring as well as diagnostics. The interface also offers back-up management, remote access, fleet assessment as well as asset optimization and helps customers to reduce the incident rate by as much as 25% while improving the speed of response and issue recovery by 60%.
  • ABB covers a broad sector of the market and offers a broad category of robotic solutions to leverage the economies of scale and has about 147,000 employees. ABB Robotics is active in nearly 53 countries as well as over 100 locations and has shipped more than 400,000 robot solutions for a wide range of applications. ABB Robotics helps its customers to improve flexibility, efficiency, safety, and reliability, as it moves towards the connected and "collaborative factory of the future."

Milacron

  • The website of Milacron is accessible via this link.
  • A brief 20th-century history of industrial robotics by the University of Udine reveals that Milacron is one of the successful robotics companies that has operated since 1974. Milacron developed/produced an innovative robot for the future that was called T3, "The Tomorrow Tool." This robot was installed across several automotive plants, especially Volvo plants within Sweden. Milacron's robot, the T3, was the "first commercially available minicomputer-controlled" robot to serve the industrial segment.
  • Several decades later (after the production of the innovative T3 robot in 1974), Milacron is still among the robotic industry leaders in the supply of industrial robotic systems for plastics processing industries.

Verticals Served

  • Milacron produces robots for plastics processing verticals/industries.
  • Milacron robots also serve companies in other verticals such as automotive, medical, food & beverage, consumer goods, electronics & telecom, aerospace, construction, and the packaging industry.

How Milacron Has Stayed Successful/How it Adapts to Changes in the Robotic Industry

  • Milacron uses innovation to stay competitive, relevant, and successful amidst changes that have occurred in the robotic industry. In 1974, Milacron developed/produced an innovative robot for the future that was called T3, "The Tomorrow Tool.
  • According to the book titled Robotics and Automation Handbook edited by Thomas R. Kurfess, Milacron was successful in 1973 by adapting to anticipated changes in the robotic sector through innovation. The company produced the first robotic arm that was controlled by a microcomputer known as the T3. A recent article by Milacron reveals that it leverages superior manufacturing techniques, "innovative engineering," and design as well as continuous improvement stay successful and also keep up with the demands of its customer base.
  • Milacron offers a broad line of robotic solutions that span a wide range of applications, including pneumatic sprue pickers. It also provides servo sprue pickers for parts and runner separation, three-axis and five-axis servo traversing robotic systems, up to six-axis articulating robotic cells that have complete integration between processing machinery and their robotic cells.
  • Milacron leverages research work to remain unbeaten/successful and also adapted to changes in the industry. According to the Institute for Research and Technology Transfer, research work on automation has "proven to enhance industrial competitiveness"; this process has also made it possible for several companies to operate more profitably. Companies/systems that have benefited from such research work include Milacron.
  • The MILACRON TALON 208 Turning Center, the MILACRON SABRE 750 Vertical Machining Center, and the MILACRON T3-7776 Industrial Robot have benefited from innovative research work which has helped the parent company Milacron to implement changes/innovations relative to the "introduction of automation" in manufacturing.

Yaskawa

  • The website of Yaskawa is accessible via this link.
  • A 2018 article of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Asia reveals that the region is known as the land of the rising robots. Sony and the Yaskawa Electric Corporation have led innovations in Japan in robotic development during the country's economic rise. Japan has remained the leader in robot production as well as the industrial use of robots for a long time.
  • Yaskawa claims to have led the world's industrial robot market by releasing the first "all-electric industrial robot." The robot was known as "MOTOMAN" and was manufactured in Japan since 1977.
  • Yaskawa has successfully commercialized and marketed robots that have various uses, ranging from arc welding (one area of its expertise) and spot welding. It has also produced material/goods handling robots, assembly robots, painting robots, robots used in the transfer of liquid crystal panels, as well as robots used in the "transfer of semiconductor wafers."
  • Currently, Yaskawa has over 300,000 Motoman robots operational globally. The jobs of these robots vary widely based on the extent/areas of operations of the companies using them.

Verticals Served

  • Yaskawa provides robots that serve the vertical segment of various industries in the automobile markets and various other fields. The company is known to offer arc and spot welding robots, painting robots, handling robots, clean/vacuum transfer robots used in the semiconductor industry, and LCD- manufacturing sectors.

How Yaskawa Has Stayed Successful/How it Adapts to Changes in the Robotic Industry

  • According to the Wiley Online Library, Yaskawa Motoman MC2000II leverages the "highest level of component development," prototype construction as well as small series production as a decisive competitive advantage to stay unbeaten/successful and adapt to changes in the robotic industry.
  • According to Yaskawa, robotics keep evolving by "taking up new challenges." The company adapted in 1977 by leading the world's industrial robot market through an innovative release of the world's first "all-electric industrial robot," known as MOTOMAN in Japan.
  • In response to changes that transformed "the robotics industry" in the 1990s, such as advances in computing power, Yaskawa released the Motoman MRC that could "synchronize motions between two robots." The Motoman MRC features had an impressive ability and controlled 21 axes at once.
  • Yaskawa produces highly affordable robots to stay unbeaten/successful in the robotic industry. An Industrial Robotics Handbook by V. Daniel Hunt (recently rated 5-stars by two users) reveal that Yaskawa has dominated the "arc welding robots applications" market by leveraging low-priced playback robots.
  • Yaskawa leverages a broad range (an extensive "product lineup") of optimum robots that are centered on arc welding, one of its areas of expertise to prepare for/cater to "new challenges" caused by evolution in the robotics sector. Various robots designed by Yaskawa cater for arc welding, spot welding, and different other functions in the industrial automotive and other segments.
  • Recently, Yaskawa has been enhancing its efforts in robotics across "the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and biomedical markets." It has also taken on new challenges by expanding into several other fields where robots are applied.
  • To stay successful, Yaskawa Robotics leverages research and development. It currently operates the Yaskawa Motoman Robotics Lab in collaboration with the University of Dayton, Ohio. The laboratory seeks to make advancements in visual servoing, metrology, and calibration, real-time control as well as other topics relevant within industrial robotics.

Research Strategy

The research investigates case studies of successful robotics companies. The study has reviewed several academic, scholarly, and other documents. It has also included the websites of the manufacturers of robots. The study considers the length of operation (several decades for ABB and Milacron), innovations in robotics, and revenue as some factors used in determining successful robotics companies.
Part
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Part
02

Case Studies - Successful Robotics Companies; Part Two

Intuitive, Blue River Technology, and KUKA are three additional case studies of successful robotics companies. All three companies are innovative pioneers in the fields of medical, agriculture, and industrial robotics respectively.

Intuitive

  • Here is the link to the website of Intuitive.
  • Intuitive was established in 1995 to develop innovative, robotic systems to help doctors perform less invasive surgery.
  • In 1999, Intuitive introduced the da Vinci Surgical System and it became one of the first general laparoscopic surgery robotic products approved by the FDA in 2000.
  • Intuitive continuously works with hospitals and doctors to create new, less invasive surgical solutions and diagnostic tools for solving complex healthcare problems worldwide.
  • Da Vinci has remained a game-changer for many surgeons.

How Intuitive Has Stayed Successful/Adapted to Changes in the Robotic Industry

  • Intuitive faces competition from other companies operating in the same space but they have remained successful through continuous "clinical and technical innovation, quality and reliability" and by educating surgeons, hospitals, and patients on the benefits of using da Vinci robotic systems and its edge over other techniques.
  • They have adapted to changes in the industry by developing new innovative products such as the Ion endoluminal system, a new "robotic system for minimally invasive biopsy in the peripheral lung".
  • The new da Vinci SP surgical system enables urology surgeons to operate on the body via one, small incision.
  • Their da Vinci ecosystem offers an integrated solution for driving improvements in results and efficiencies.
  • The continually improved da Vinci robotic system has been used to perform millions of surgeries.
  • Intuitive reported a 20% rise in surgical procedures performed using its da Vinci robotic systems in the third quarter of 2018.

Blue River Technology

  • Here is the link to the website of Blue River Technology.
  • Blue River Technology was established in 2011 by two Stanford graduate students who had a wild ambition of achieving more sustainable farming using computer vision and robotics.
  • They proved that machine learning, robotics, and computer vision can be applied to the agriculture field.
  • Blue River Technology built the lettuce bot, the first smart equipment used for lettuce thinning.
  • The lettuce bot provides automation for the time-consuming and expensive process of removing unwanted lettuce seedling by taking pictures, detecting which plants to eliminate, spraying them, and confirming the accuracy of the automated system, all in real-time.

How Blue River Technology Has Stayed Successful/Adapted to Changes in the Robotic Industry

  • Blue River Technology adapted to changes in the industry by developing more innovative products. They built the See & Spray machines to leverage deep learning in the identification of a wider range of plant with greater accuracy, thereby making prompt crop management decisions.
  • The custom nozzles were designed to allow lower than one-inch "spray resolution, and powerful software powers faster and more agile crop protection". See & Spray is presently used for weeding cotton and soybeans.
  • John Deere acquired Blue River in September 2017. While they kept operating as an independent subsidiary, the partnership provided Blue River with the support of one of the global top players in precision agriculture which have enabled them to remain successful.
  • With the support of John Deere, Blue River is continuing its expansion and they are exploring several new innovative solutions to improve agriculture.
  • Blue River won several awards in 2017, including being listed as one of the most innovative robotics companies in the world by Fast Company

KUKA

  • Here is the link to the website of KUKA.
  • KUKA was founded in 1898 as an acetylene gas plant in Germany, which provided cost-effective residential and street lighting operations.
  • Today, KUKA is one of the top producers of intelligent automation systems and they have been continuously associated with ideas and innovations.
  • KUKA has subsidiaries in over 30 countries and around 14,000 employees.
  • Midea Group of China acquired KUKA in 2017 with the plan of making KUKA's innovative products to have greater access to the Chinese market.

How KUKA Has Stayed Successful/Adapted to Changes in the Robotic Industry

  • A few years after KUKA was founded, the emergence of electric light sources led to a drastic decline in the prices of acetylene gas. As a result, KUKA expanded by inventing oxyacetylene welding.
  • KUKA adapted to changes in the industry by developing and remained successful by embracing automation.
  • The first automated welding machine for washing machines and refrigerators was introduced by KUKA in 1956.
  • KUKA also developed the first magnet arc welding system which has been continuously optimized. It has remained one of the quickest and most reliable methods of joining components that are required to withstand very large loads permanently.
  • KUKA made history in 1973 by introducing Famulus, the first industrial robot in the world having six axes driven by electric motors.
  • KUKA became the first robotic company to take the risk of shifting to the "PC-based robot controller" in 1996.
  • With a payload capacity of over 1,000 kg, The KUKA KR 1000 TITAN got into the Guinness Book of Records as the strongest industrial robot in the world with six-axes.
  • With its distinctive payload range, the KUKA KR QUANTEC became the best-selling robotic series in the world in 2010.
  • The new generation of KR QUANTEC, has evolved into a digitalized, highly-flexible, machine.
  • The new KR QUANTEC is flexible and adaptable to different production processes at the touch of a button.
  • The KR QUANTEC is the "world’s first industrial robot to have digital Motion Modes".


Part
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Part
03

Case Studies - Unsuccessful Robotics Companies; Part One

Some three defunct robotics companies that folded and went out of business are Rethink Robotics, Anki, and Jibo. Below is a detailed case study of each company.

Rethink Robotics

  • Rethink Robotics was founded in 2008 by Anna Whitaker and Rodney Brooks to improve on the shortcomings of the existing robots.
  • The company's collaborative robots, Baxter and Sawyer, were designed to adapt to complex tasks, be easily programmable, and featured animated faces that could communicate with humans and were safe to use near people.
  • The company was promising and had been touted by the media as the future of robotics and had gone ahead to raise more than $149 million in funding before it failed.
  • The company's intellectual property was acquired by a German automation specialist, HANNS Group, and here's the link to the new website after the acquisition.

Why Rethink Robotics was Unsuccessful

Why the Company Finally Shut Down

Anki Robotics

  • The website link can be found here.
  • Anki is well-known for the popular consumer social robots, Cozmo and Vector.

Why Anki Robotics was Unsuccessful

Why the Company is Shutting Down

Jibo

  • Jibo is a social robot that was founded in 2012 by MIT roboticist Cynthia Breazeal, as the first social robot for the home that will perform a wide range of functions as opposed to the existing niche robots that only did one function like vacuuming.
  • According to the founder, the personal robots revolution could only come if it was made a platform, and she believed that the Jibo social robot would be that platform.
  • While the social robot successfully raised $3.5 million in funding by the end of 2014 and featured in Time Magazine as one of the best innovations for 2017, it still failed and went out of business.
  • The company's official website can be found here.

Why Jibo Was Unsuccessful

  • According to the Robot Report, one reason why Jibo failed is making the classic mistake other social robots companies make: innovating outside the consumer market and not meeting the consumer's needs.
  • Some other reasons that contributed to the social robot's failure are:
  • According to Techcrunch, Jibo was bound to go out of business even after successful rounds of funding since it was yet to get the hardware right.
Part
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Part
04

Case Studies - Unsuccessful Robotics Companies; Part Two

Three additional unsuccessful robotics companies that folded and went out of business are Acutronic Robotics, Reach Robotics, and Mayfield Robotics. Below is a detailed case study of each company.

1. Acutronic Robotics

  • Acutronic Robotics was founded in 2016 after Acutronic Link Robotics' acquisition of Erie Robotics. It had offices in Spain and Switzerland and offered communication tools based on Robot Operating System (ROS) for modular robot design.
  • The company was developing a Hardware Robot Operating System (H-ROS), which is a communications bus specifically designed for robots. It had also created the modular MARA robot which ran on ROS 2 natively.
  • After its closure, its website was also taken down.

Why Acutronic Robotics was Unsuccessful

  • Acutronic Robotics was shut down on July 31, 2019 after it failed to find additional sources of capital. The company needed more funding since it was in the process of developing new hardware.
  • According to Robotics Business Review, Acutronic's CEO Victor Mayoral stated that the company hit the market too early and fell short of resources. H-ROS technology was still new and most venture capitalists and crowdfunding backers did not think that the idea was viable.
  • As per the Robot Report, the company experienced difficulties in finding venture capital immediately before its closure. The company had to rely on venture capital since it was not directly backed by specific funding.
  • Acutronic Robotics failed to adapt to an environment that was unprepared for H-ROS technology. This was also stated as a reason by the Robot Report. Its efforts, therefore, were unprofitable in the long-run.

Why the Company Finally Shut Down

2. Reach Robotics

  • Reach Robotics was founded in 2013 and released its MekaMon gaming robot in November 2017. It was shut down in September 2019.
  • The company had made huge strides in technology in terms of hardware and app development. MekaMon was the world's first gaming robot with seamless AR integration.
  • The company's official website can be found here.

Why Reach Robotics was Unsuccessful

  • Reach's CEO Silas Adekunle posted on Instagram and LinkedIn that the robotics company was faced with tough business circumstances. Reach's product and business model was ineffective for meeting the high demand for its expertise.
  • The co-founder, John Rees, posted on LinkedIn, saying that sales of consumer hardware such as their gaming robot were hard due to reliance on the Christmas sales period.
  • Consumer robotics is a challenging space, especially for start-ups, and Reach Robotics failed to adapt to the demanding market in its existing form. Most robotics consumers require robots which meet their everyday needs and Reach's product did not meet customer expectations.
  • Therefore, it did not make sales which were enough to sustain its existing business model and goals for future expansion. After taking on the challenge for six years, Reach Robotics was unable to overcome the tough circumstances.

Why the Company Finally Shut Down

  • According to The Times UK, Reach was under pressure from a creditor and was looking for investment or a sale to avoid collapse. Reach then filed notice of its intention to appoint an administrator at the end of July 2019, giving it ten working days to settle its debt. This was done to avoid being forced into liquidation and putting their assets at risk.
  • When the ten-day period was over, the company's CEO shut it down.

3. Mayfield Robotics

  • Mayfield Robotics was founded in 2015 by Sarah Osentoski, Kaijen Hsiao and Mike Beebe as part of Bosch's Startup Platform. It was the manufacturer of Kuri, a home robot. The company worked for the two years following its launch towards the creation of the intelligent robot which was its only product.
  • Mayfield Robotics was closed on October 31, 2018 even though Kuri had won multiple awards and was the only robot nominated for a "Best of CES" award.
  • The company's official website can be found here.

Why Mayfield Robotics was Unsuccessful

  • In July 2019, Mayfield Robotics halted production of its only product- the Kuri home robot.
  • The company stated that being part of the Bosch Startup Platform did not support or scale its business. Bosch was integral to Mayfield's success because it was bankrolling the Kuri project. Bosch's prior involvement was a huge advantage to Mayfield because it did not need to rely on venture capital funding.
  • Mayfield Robotics' incompatibility with Bosch's portfolio meant that it could no longer take advantage on the existing manufacturing know-how or capitalize on the company's patience. Bosch was initially willing to fund the project because they wanted to identify whether home robotics was a viable business. With Kuri out of the market, Bosch could not support Mayfield Robotics.
  • Mayfield struggled to meet the needs of the industry. Even though it tried to develop AI with a friendly face, the result was an expensive robot whose sales were not enough to sustain the business.
  • Kuri was also competing with affordable, less complex smart speakers and virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Their relatively low prices and power of Amazon and Google behind them made them dominate the market, beating Mayfield's Kuri.
  • Bosch determined that there was no place for Mayfield or Kuri on its larger portfolio. The Kuri dream was difficult to place within Bosch in the end. Mayfield Robotics did not adapt to Bosch's business structure as a robotics startup.

Why the Company Finally Shut Down

  • After the cancellation of its Kuri Robot, Mayfield Robotics looked for external partners for long term development, but could not find any investment to support its future. According to the Robot Report, the closure was the only feasible option because the company had no future.
  • The employees were absorbed into other Bosch departments.
Part
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Part
05

Organizational Approach - Successful Robotics Companies: Part One

ABB, UBTech Robotics and Intuitive Surgical are three of successful robotics companies. Information on how successful robotics companies operate their robotics divisions is not available in the public domain. The approaches taken during research are explained at the end of the brief.

ABB (Asea Brown Boveri)

  • The company has announced it will create a new division, which will encompass combined businesses of the Machine and Factory Automation segment of the Industrial Automation division and the Robotics segment of the Robotic and Motion division.

UBTech Robotics


3. Intuitive Surgical


RESEARCH STRATEGY

We were unable to find information on the operating structure of a robotics division of any successful robotics companies. Companies haven't provided this information, while third-party studies on this topic haven't been done. For ABB, which is one of the largest robotics companies worldwide, only financial and sales information surrounding the robotics division was available. The company's business processes were described, but applied across all company's divisions, which is why the information was irrelevant to our interests. Most companies didn't mention its robotics division in reports and filings. Because of this, there was no way to compare the robotics division operations.

As the first strategy, we directly searched for reports on how some successful robotics companies manage their robotics divisions. Our aim was to find reports on successful robotics companies that describe their business models, which would give us both information on successful companies and their operational structures, but search indicated no such studies exist. We consulted scholarly databases such as Research Gate and Google Scholar, as well as industry-specific publications such as Robotic Industries Association. What we found there were surface-level descriptions of typical robotic company organization structures.

We identified a range of robotics companies that are successful, including but not limited to FANUC, Yaskawa, Engel. We determined these are successful based on whether they are on the stock market, have large amounts of revenue or have received significant funding. We then searched for information on each of the companies' robotics division operational structures, but found that the vast majority of companies do not provide this information.

We then decided to focus on three of the successful companies that appeared to have the largest amounts of relevant information available and conduct a more in-depth search on ABB, UBTech Robotics and Intuitive Surgical. We made sure to choose companies that are in various application fields of robotics.

We started by examining each of the companies' websites, press releases, annual reports and blogs. What we hoped to identify this way were reports from the companies' themselves that outline how their robotics divisions operate, but we found that UBTech and Intuitive Surgical haven't provided any relevant information. ABB provided some information on its robotics division, which wasn't directly relevant to our interests.

We proceeded to identify CEOs and robotics leadership of the companies, in order to search interviews with these individuals, as well as any other public statements they might have made, hoping to locate relevant information. For companies ABB and UBTech, we managed to identify the heads of robotics, while for Intuitive Surgical, we couldn't determine who was in charge of robotics. Regardless, we searched public statements from each of the companies' CEOs, but found that the interviews focus on general facts about the company, as well as company efforts towards customers. Robotic divisions weren't mentioned by the companies' leadership.




Part
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Part
06

Organizational Approach - Successful Robotics Companies: Part Two

Three additional successful robotic companies that we have identified are Sphero, iRobot, and Anybots. We chose them based on their longevity, revenue, robots created, which clearly speaks to their success.

Sphero

  • Sphero is based in Boulder, Colorado and was started in 2010 when the founders met each other in Techstars, and then subsequently decided to make an app-enabled educational robot.
  • Their creative minds and ideas directly led them to their success, and since the founding of the company, they have created even more products.
  • Sphero has worked with Disney by creating robots for Marvel, Pixar and for Star Wars, which in turn, gave them really good exposure in this market.
  • They have created educational robot toys that are used to help students nurture their creativity and enhance their thinking skills in coding, problem solving, and more.
  • Some robots created are Sphero Mini, SPRK+, Bolt, and RVR.
  • The company has reported their funding to be $126M.
  • They have an estimated $5M revenue annually.
  • Sphero is considered the top player and successful in the educational robotic market, because of their hardware, the simplicity of its use, applications, software, the training they provide for the educators and the durability and the quality of the products they sell.
  • In 2018, Sphero partnered with Facebook to expand their products and to help American children have a different way of learning with the use of robots.
  • The partnership of Sphero and Facebook provided applicants from CodeFWD by Facebook a free Sphero BOLT Power Pack. CodeFWD is a free online educational program for teachers or organizations who are into computer programming and teaching students in America from 4th to 8th grade.
  • Last August, Sphero announced their partnership with LittleBits to enhance the education in America and to be the Top 1 STEAM and coding solution around the world. STEAM is similar to STEM, but STEAM represents STEM plus the arts which includes humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media.
  • Sphero is different from the other two companies in this report because their robots are specifically made for educational purposes.

iRobot

  • iRobot are the successful makers of robotic vacuum cleaners.
  • Two of their popular and award-winning products include Roomba Vacuuming Robot and the mopping robot called Braava.
  • iRobot has been in business for more than 25 years and they are continuously growing worldwide.
  • The company was founded in 1990 by roboticists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • iRobot is continuously innovating products and are focused on providing products that will be valuable for every household.
  • In 2018, they reported their annual revenue was $1.09 billion.
  • The company retains and hires creative and determined employees that work hard to develop robots that can be helpful in and out of every household.
  • Because of their innovations and creative minds to enable smart homes, they keep growing and becoming more successful.
  • iRobots differ from the two other companies because their robots are made specifically to help ease the lives of every household. Their robots are used for cleaning, gardening, and mopping.
  • iRobot is committed to producing robots with the best quality in technology, in terms of human interaction, mapping, smarter robots, easy to use, and user-friendly with the integration of apps.

Anybots

  • Anybots has an estimated annual revenue of $5.9 M.
  • Anybots is considered the top player for the Telepresence Robots market based on its production, revenue, innovations, strategies, gross margin, and their competitive pricing.
  • Anybots is the creator of mobile virtual presence robots to help users communicate and interact with people from different places.
  • Its powerful system, customizable hardware and software is what makes it different, popular and successful to the market.
  • The robots are provided with a speaker, camera, and video screen and can be easily installed and controlled from any computer with the provided secured WebSocket, and with the use of internet in any part of the world.
  • One of their popular robots is the QB avatars that can be used in hospitals, schools, offices, and for events.
  • Anybots are different because their robots can be used in hospitals, offices, and schools. QB avatars are used to represent a human to interact with others, when the user cannot go to the actual place.
  • Their unique technology, the clear voice and activation of the QB avatar makes it popular to different organizations like hospitals, corporations, and schools.

Research Strategy:

We were unable to address and provide an explanation of how each of the company's robotics division operates.

We first searched for successful robotics companies, and found articles from websites like builtin.com and fool.com. From this strategy we found three successful companies in robotics fields.

We then reviewed the company websites of the companies to get more information about their organizational approach, their revenues, products, and how they differ from others that make them successful and unique. We found information from companies Sphero and iRobots about their products, and what makes them successful but we were unsuccessful getting specific details regarding their robotics division approach. The vast majority of the data found surrounded the products themselves. For Anybots information regarding their organizational approach was not found in the public domain, which of course included their website.

We then switched gears in order to search for reports on how successful robotics companies manage their robotics divisions, hoping to get relevant information but we did not find these as they do not seem publicly available, likely because this kind of data is closely guarded. We did review databases like Research Gate, and we even reviewed paywalled sites like hitzdairies.com, but we only found information about the Telepresence robot markets, and nothing concerning how any of the companies' robotics division operates.
Part
07
of seven
Part
07

Best Practices - Running a Successful Robotics Company

Some five best practices for running a successful robotics company include strategic alliances, innovative solutions, and investing in a niche market. For each best practice, a company was given as an example to reflect how the best practice was used in the modus operandi of the business to make the robotic company successful.

Continued investment in Research and Development

  • This best practice is the sacrifice made by spending more on operating expenses to scale up sales and revenue. It is the act of investing in things necessary to improve the efficiency of products or services offered.
  • It is a best practice because companies who attain growth in sales and revenue spend more on operating expenses in the areas of research and development of their products or services.
  • iRobot is an excellent example of a robotic company doing this. The company recently invested more in sales, research, and development, making its operating expenses to "grow by more than 7% year over year."
  • It invested in new design, software, and "data science strategies to expand into new areas, using an approach to the smart home that is different from its big tech rivals."
  • The result of this continued investment resulted in one of its product lines, robotic vacuum cleaners (Roomba), accounting for "$715 million of the $787 million revenue in the first nine months of 2019."
  • Furthermore, investors have been told to expect long-term gains from iRobot because of its positioning in in-home robotics. It is one of the ten most significant robotic stocks on NASDAQ.

Strategic Alliances

  • This best practice entails building strategic partnerships or arrangements with one or more companies towards achieving common objectives while each does not compromise the independence of each.
  • It is a best practice because many companies, past and in recent times, have fueled their growth and success in the industry through strategic alliances. For instance, the strategic partnership of companies like Mithril Capital, Mitsubishi, Flipkart, with GreyOrange resulted in the growth of the latter.
  • GreyOrange is an excellent example of a robotic company doing this. Having raised $140 million in 2018 via investment from strategic alliances with other corporate institutions, the company is not resting on its oars as it has entered a new strategic partnership with companies like "Avik Services, Bricz, Hy-Tek, Info-Sun, McCombs-Wall, S&H Systems, TREW, and UST Global, to help sell, deploy, and service GreyOrange technology."
  • These strategic alliances are also channeled to bring fulfillment technologies to customers. The company is excited and proud of its strategic partnerships with these companies.
  • GreyOrange is also listed among the top 10 robotics companies in the world based on its "astonishing potential to transform the AI and machine learning space."

Innovative Solutions

  • This best practice entails the application of something novel and value-oriented to optimize the business solutions in areas of need to the satisfaction of end-consumers.
  • It is a practice because the customer is still regarded as king in any business franchise, and his or her satisfaction informs the success or failure of any business.
  • More so, it is a best practice because it is one of the metrics that industry critics and reviewers used to measure the performance of companies in relevant sectors.
  • Epson Robots is an excellent example of a robotic company doing this. The company strives in excellent customer service by providing "the most innovative and highest quality robotics solutions."
  • Some of Epson Robots's innovative solutions include "the SynthisTM T6 All-in-One SCARA Robot, the Epson Force Guide, the IntelliFlex Feeding System powered by Epson Robots’ IntelliFlex Software and Vision Guide, and the ultra low cost VT6L All-in-One 6-Axis Robot."
  • RBR50 recognized Epson Robots for the sixth time among the 50 leading robotics companies based on innovative technology, appreciation of consumer needs, and on ecosystems of other robotic process automation (RPA) developers.
  • The company is also listed among the top 10 robotics companies in the world based on its "astonishing potential to transform the AI and machine learning space."

Collaborative Robot Training and Support Program

  • This best practice entails getting hands-on knowledge on the process of using or adapting to the use of robots in the day-to-day running of one's business. It affords customers and employees the flexibility to understand the process and technicalities of a robotic solution.
  • It is a best practice because robots (cobots) are already essential for SMEs to not only remain globally competitive, but to exist in the first place. This inference is deducible from the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte's 2018 Skills Gap study reports. As a result, collaborative robot training and support programs are now undertaken by SMEs, as they comprise 99% of America businesses alone.
  • It is also a best practice because there are training courses for robotic learning that are now even available for employees.
  • Rethink Robotics GmbH is an excellent example of a robotic company doing this. The company makes use of collaborative tools such as the Intera Online User Guide, the Sawyer SDK Wiki, and the Rethink User Forum to educate their customers and employees on how "to create tasks and rapidly deploy Sawyer into production."
  • While the company's collaborative tools are free, the Rethink User Forum is accessible only upon registration. The latter creates a user community for questions to be asked. This community is expected to include customers, employees, and the founders of the company.
  • The German company, the HAHN Group, acquired Rethink Robotics in 2018 and has released the new edition of Sawyer BLACK with first deliveries slated for this year (2019).
  • With better understanding and relationship building between all stakeholders, customers' use of these products will enhance more sales opportunities. This is reflective in the sales capacity of the HAHN Group to install an average of 2000 robots per year.
  • Rethink Robotics GmbH is also listed among the top 10 robotics companies in the world based on its "astonishing potential to transform the AI and machine learning space."

Investing in a Niche Market

Research Strategy

We started our findings by examining robotic companies that are successful, and we used their values to identify five best practices for running a successful robotics company. The best practices of these companies are tied to their success stories ase we were able to establish that these best practices are evident in the modus operandi of their respective businesses. Some reputable sources used for our findings include the websites of each of these companies, Forbes, IPE magazine, the Supply Chain Management Review magazine, and NASDAQ.



Sources
Sources

From Part 01
From Part 04
From Part 07
Quotes
  • "grow by more than 7% year over year."
  • "$715 million of the $787 million revenue in the first nine months of 2019."
Quotes
  • "data science strategies to expand into new areas, using an approach to the smart home that is different from its big tech rivals."
Quotes
  • "Avik Services, Bricz, Hy-Tek, Info-Sun, McCombs-Wall, S&H Systems, TREW, and UST Global, to help sell, deploy, and service GreyOrange technology."
Quotes
  • "astonishing potential to transform the AI and machine learning space."
Quotes
  • "the most innovative and highest quality robotics solutions"
  • "the SynthisTM T6 All-in-One SCARA Robot, the Epson Force Guide, the IntelliFlex Feeding System powered by Epson Robots’ IntelliFlex Software and Vision Guide, and the ultra low cost VT6L All-in-One 6-Axis Robot."
Quotes
  • "to create tasks and rapidly deploy Sawyer into production."
Quotes
  • "two consecutive years of 300% growth and hired on 100 more employees."
Quotes
  • "various industries discovering how AMRs can automate internal transport to help optimize workflow, increase productivity, and reduce costs,"
Quotes
  • "be defined by its own unique needs, preferences, or identity that makes it different from the market at large."