Reliance on a single product class is a key reason industry has witnessed many robot businesses close down in the last twelve months, says Nigel Smith, managing director of TM Robotics, which will be celebrating its 20th trading anniversary on April 1, 2020.
The comments follow several instances of high-profile robot companies closing their doors. Mayfield Robotics and Jibo were both forced to cease trading in recent years, followed by the much-celebrated Rethink Robotics — all of which had raised hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and development. According to Smith, focusing on single application robotics is the problem.
Smith established TM Robotics in 2000 to deal with Toshiba Machine’s robot sales in the United Kingdom and Europe. The company has grown rapidly over the past two decades and now supplies SCARA, 6-axis and Cartesian robots to companies across the globe. It’s customer base includes North and South America, India, Russia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Australia.
During its first decade, TM Robotics launched several landmark products to these markets, including Toshiba Machine’s first ever 6-axis robot and industry’s only automated box cutting machine. Another key event was the development of the SCARA starter pack, which demonstrated robot ease-of-use to engineers considering their first step in automation.
Two decades after TM Robotics’ launch, Toshiba Machine is expanding its product variety with the unveiling two new collaborative robots at the International Robot Exhibition (IREX) in Japan. These cobots, are the first machines of their kind from the Japanese manufacturer and there are impressive plans in the pipeline to develop this new product line.
“Businesses too focussed on a single application class struggle with critical mass and ultimately close,” said Smith. “Over reliance on a single product class can limit the market for a robot manufacturer. With two decades of experience supplying industrial robots globally, TM Robotics has first-hand experience needing to adapt to market needs by supplying different robot types.
“Industrial robot users want partners who can evolve quickly. Look at collaborative robots as an example. A few decades ago, the concept of humans working alongside a robot was unheard of, but the market size for these machines is now expected to reach $ 10.14 billion by 2025.
“Collaborative robots and humans working together can deliver a new level of strength and Toshiba Machine — soon to become Shibaura Machine in April 2020 — has projects in the pipeline to help with that need.”