Spend anytime around the robotics industry and you’ll realise two things: it’s vast and fast moving.
It spans every sub-sector of industry and is increasingly forcing its way into general society. The robots are not coming, they are here. Things are happening at an incredible speed, so much so, that innovations appear common place and every day there is a new development. I feel a tad sorry for those executives who are in charge of automation and are currently being bombarded with robot manufacturers, and all the infrastructure companies, setting out their stalls and making their pitches.
It’s no secret that whilst the robots may have arrived, many companies are resistant to their introduction, and industry marketing teams far and wide are developing strategies to make robots more palatable to companies. It’s a struggle, but once the dam bursts, there should be holding back.
Which leads me to some sad news. Since our last issue of the RoboPro Magazine, the US company Rethink has exited stage left.
For many in the know it was not a shock, but for any fledgling industrial sector trying to prove its credibility, Rethink will be an awkward historical footnote. If the cobot is the future for the next decade, then why was the company allowed to fail? It has been widely reported that the company had a large order go sour and although a white knight had been on the horizon, ready to save the day, it had dropped out of negotiations at the last moment. This can happen in any industry, and even to the best managed companies, but it will be a timely reminder to everyone that everything robo will not turn to gold.
There is a happy ending to the story, with the HAHN Group picking up many of the pieces and giving new life to the chipper Sawyer cobot. HAHN is an international technology leader for automatisation and robotics, and as part of the deal, it acquired all patents and trademarks of Rethink Robotics as well as its software platform “INTERA5.”
It must have been a dream opportunity for HAHN and they have cleverly positioned themselves as a leading contender in the cobot market.
It is good news for some of the people involved as well, especially as what is usually forgotten in these situations is the human cost. Founders and major shareholders are wiped out, investors get to nurse losses and employees are suddenly without jobs, worried about making ends meet and trying to find new employment. A company failure is never a pretty site and the collateral damage is huge.
However, Our Robo Business section makes a nice contrast to the Rethink problems. The market news is good and positive.
Generally, as they like to say, the future looks bright. Let’s help it continue that way.
All the best,