Manufacturing staff setting up automation on a laptop

Scale faster with Service Lifecycle Management (SLM)

How to overcome 5 robotics and automation challenges to scale faster.


We discuss two areas of opportunity for warehouse automation and their challenges.

Read time: 5 minutes

As the automation industry continues to grow, robotics and automation vendors will face operational challenges requiring significant investment and time.

Many of these challenges could interfere with available resources and capability to focus on developing new innovative technologies. 

In our experience, there are five challenges related to Service Lifecycle Management. Let's look at each one. We'll then share how many automation vendors are addressing them.

Installation costs: time is money

Installation costs of material handling robot solutions can vary between a few hours to a few months. 

Since no two deployments are alike, vendors must consider the time spent to install products with buyers and any evaluation and simulation expenses. 

Installations are not a strong source of revenue and expend a considerable amount of time required for traveling, site mapping, equipment setups and testing, and administrative scheduling.

Maintenance and repair costs: reach ROI faster

Maintaining and repairing equipment over a 5 to 10-year life span can lead to additional revenue for automation and robotics vendors. Organizations may deploy considerable resources for repairing and maintaining robotic equipment, and this total life­cycle support cost may impact the ROI of their initial investment.

The automation industry must appeal to companies by reducing maintenance costs and using service models to reduce CAPEX. 

To do this effectively, automation vendors will need to turn to onboard expertise from third parties to provide customer service, support, and maintenance services to reduce costs.

Hidden value of automation: demystify the data

As an automation vendor, it's critical to have actionable data based on significant metrics on hand to share with customers.

 However, automation vendors and end-users often face challenges in summarizing the data gathered to unlock the actual value of the analytics. Data needs to be contextual, actionable, and timely. 

If managers cannot impact their operation quickly through effective data analysis, the entire data value chain fails to justify its purpose.

Customer centricity: add a human touch

Adopting and implementing automation services can be overwhelming for new customers.

 If customer service and support are lacking, end-users can quickly become disillusioned with their investment, leading to failed relationships and lost opportunities. 

Automation and robotics companies must be customer-oriented to avoid this fate. The entire customer workforce should be looked at and included in the technology adoption from executives to site managers and laborers.

Workforce training: lead long-term success

For automation technologies to be effective, a technically proficient team should be trained to implement, operate, and maintain the solution.

Since each customer's business is highly nuanced, training for one type of equipment may not apply to different hardware, which can be challenging for the automation provider.

Clients want extensive training for their intra-company departments and individual employees. Larger customers seek out partners to provide critical services like ongoing employee training, materials deployment, and support. 

Training beyond the initial implementation phase is an opportunity cost that can be difficult to justify for many automation vendors.

How robotics and automation vendors are solving support at scale

Automation can be tough to scale for any vendor.

Many automation vendors have turned to Service Lifecycle partners for comprehensive services and solutions programs to address each of these five challenges.

Looking ahead to this growing industry, the demand for third party service organizations that can tackle the challenges presented by increased prevalence of robotics and automation only promises to grow. To stay competitive, automation vendors will need to find partners with comprehensive programs and experience.

Our Device Lifecycle services professionals have been helping automation companies plan and scale their services to meet customer needs. Have questions? Speak with one of our experts.

Did you miss Parts 1 or 2? Catch up on the series:

Part 1: The Rapid Acceleration of Automation

Part 2: The Future of Warehouse Automation

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