01 Feb 2022

The nine questions you need to ask when buying robots

The nine questions you need to ask when buying robots
Make sure you know how to ask the best questions so you can find the right robots for your business.

When making a big purchase/major business investment, you need to be asking the best questions. Whether it’s a car, a computer, or the cornerstone of your future warehouse operations. Warehouse automation is a major step for any business, so it is important to know you’re working with the right people, and asking the right questions. To make sure you’re dealing with a real automation provider, and not some simple robotics reseller, use these nine questions as a clear and informative checklist.

What can your robots do?

This question seems very broad and unwieldy, but the kind of answers you get can be very telling. A simple robotic reseller might answer with a short and broad response, or something long and painfully technical. The real automation provider will let this be the start of a conversation. One about what you need in terms of throughput, materials handling, and the current pain points your business is facing.

Can I see the robots in action?

A robotic reseller might have access to a robot supplier, and might be able to show you some impressive looking videos and a well put together presentation. But will they be able to show you the robots in person? Will you be able to see them, and watch them work for yourself? Probably not. But an automation provider will make sure that can happen. Read more about this issue here, or click on the next link to discover the Wise Robotics demonstration centre.

How long does it take to install the robots?

In warehouses, as is true in so many other business sectors, timescales are crucial. Make sure you understand fully just how long a given operation is going to take to deliver, install, and deploy. Not to mention the timescales you should be expecting for ROI. In contrast to the vague estimates offered by robotic resellers, automation providers will be very happy to work with you on this, doing deep-dive investigations into your business requirements and your operational situation. All to give you the best possible automation solution that your business needs.

How customisable are your robots?

No two businesses are the same, and no two warehouses work identically. You need an automation solution that is flexible enough to handle the specifics of what you are working with. Robotic resellers can rarely offer this, but an automation provider is a dual expert in both automation technology and the warehouse utilising industry. They can give you the kind of customisations you need to make your warehouse a model of successful efficiency.

What integrations can you offer?

When asking about robotic hardware, you’re implicitly asking about automation software. You need to know what kind of systems the robots are operating on, and how they will interact with your pre-existing software. A robotic reseller might make some vague claims about their robots being “plug and play” but an actual automation provider will be able to go into far more depth.

What KPIs can you monitor?

The ability of your automation system to keep track of your overall performance is a key indicator of the quality of your automation. Can your robots track their distance travelled? The weight of the various loads they carry? How many journeys do they make to specific points in your facility? The robotic resellers of the world might have a specific list of KPIs they can handle, but a propper automation provider will be able to customise and tailor their AMR’s KPI monitoring capacities to meet your specific needs.

What supplementary technology do you offer?

The robots and software may well be the most important part of an automation solution, but they are far from the whole story. The technology that surrounds your robotic operation will very often be the key lynchpin that turns a serviceable system provided by a robotic reseller into amazing automation offered by a proper provider. Whether it’s lights to improve accuracy or customisable storage for smoother operations, the technology around your robots is a key line of enquiry for anyone considering automating their warehouse.

What technical support can you offer?

When it rains, it pours, so be sure to ask about the robustness of the available umbrellas. Automation systems are the kinds of technology that get tested, trimmed, tracked, and re-tested to the Nth degree. So while problems and malfunctions are most likely going to be rare, you need to know who is on the other end of the line when they happen, and how soon they can solve whatever issues might have arisen. Learn more about the differences between what automation providers and robotic resellers offer in this area by reading here.

Is your automation scaleable?

Your business may not stay the same size forever. New premises may emerge. New opportunities may arise. When that happens, the last thing you need is an automation system that cannot grow with you and your business. While one of the big advantages of flexible automation is the way it can shift and adapt to changing warehouses, you need to be sure that the solution as well as the equipment can handle this change. While a robotic reseller might just give you the equipment and leave you to solve your next steps on your own, a real automation provider will work with you as and when scaling becomes an issue.

View all News