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What Holds SMEs Back from Robotics and Automation?


What Holds SMEs Back from Robotics and Automation?
      HI-MORE eNewsletter, Jan. 2020 Issue
With ever more lights-out factories operational in automotive, aerospace industries, robotics and automation technology are increasingly seen by developed nations as a feasible strategy in upgrading competitiveness of SMEs, a trend that looks lucrative to robots suppliers, but will still take time to grow that way for some reasons.

Lots of market research firms like Technavio point to SMEs in traditional manufacturing sectors, such as plastic injection molding, as one of growth engines for the robotics market in the years to come. Contributing to a basis of the forecasting is the SMErobotics initiative by EU in 2012, which was designed to assist European SMEs to deal with underselling rivalry from emerging countries with robots and automation equipment. 


So far, however, the reality has seemed disappointing to robot suppliers and vendors looking at SMEs, as most of such potential customers are hesitant, and sometimes reluctant, to adopt robots and automation systems. Factors behind the lingering inertia are worth looking into, if you can take their feedback seriously.


SMEs' Paint Points



Difficulties getting in the way of SMEs intending to develop their in-house automatic production lines vary, and in many cases they can boil down to a cost consideration. Equipment suppliers may negligently lose those potential customers when submitting them fixed price quotations without taking into account their genuine demands.  

On another front, building an automated assembly line requires knowledge of system integration and networking technology, which, ironically, is something that most traditional manufacturers tend to lack. This problem can make them feel helpless and distressed once automation equipment suppliers fail to play a advisory role for them. 



Insights from HI-MORE: Psychological Factors Matter As Well


In addition to the abovementioned sakes, Vic Chen, president of HI-MORE, opines that “psychological factors” will also contribute to SMEs’ skepticism about robotization and automation. 

An example, Chen says, is that many of SME owners would likely be misled by a myth that automation is to replace workforce with robots. However, the truth is that most enterprises introduce automation systems simply for they can’t recruit enough workers to do certain works that are regarded dirty, dangerous and demeaning. 
Chen has also found that some SMEs would turn down proposals from suppliers due to their constrained thinking that automation is about a number of robots being installed and synchronized with one another along production lines. 

HI-MORE's President Vic Chen

“SME owners should evaluate the conditions of existing manufacturing environments and assess if they are truly demanding automation,” the young president stresses. He adds that to overcome such stereotypes, suppliers must help customers to cultivate reasonable perceptions of robots and automation with professional advise, from practical viewpoints, and with patience.


HI-MORE, by Customers from Start to Last Mile

Therefore, Chen states that HI-MORE aspires to serve as a reliable, strong arm for SME customers in the journey to automation. He says, “HI-MORE wants to give customers a clear and true picture of robotization and automation, and help them get over all the difficulties we can foresee based on our professionalism and experience.”

As part of its effort to that end, HI-MORE has succeeded in optimizing its product mix with various robot models and automation equipment featured with modularized specifications, which can satisfy customers with wide-ranging product offerings and friendly prices. Chen emphasizes, “Product modularization allows HI-MORE to offer more affordable pricing and a broader range of choices to SME customers from different sectors, which we believe can help fix their pain points more effectively.”

On product development, HI-MORE insists “Simple is better than complex.” Chen points out that his company tends to offer every SME customer a so simple, truly useful, practical and easy-to-use automation system, that it doesn’t need to recruit additional workers for the operation and maintenance of the system. “After all, automation systems are employed for nothing more than raised efficiency,” he says.

Noteworthy, HI-MORE assigns its technicians to serve customers with tech support whenever needed. Despite costly, Chen thinks that this strategy based on the concept of “resource sharing” can help HI-MORE to build genuine partnerships with SME customers to set itself apart from competitors. To potential ones without sound manufacturing conditions, Chen adds, HI-MORE will also take the strategy to assist them to continuously improve their capabilities till they are ready to introduce automation equipment.


iMonster’s Digest ~ 

At HI-MORE, Altruism Is Not a Lip Service

We have frequently described Vice Chen as a altruist in other articles posted over the past year, primarily because what HI-MORE has done under the young president’s direction not just justifies such a description but also brings the brand’s image to new heights.

Chen told us that when meeting new customers from sectors outside of plastic injection molding, HI-MORE, in some cases, tends to seek more experienced suppliers to serve them, instead of itself. Chen’s logic is quite simple, as he would like to take advantage of HI-MORE’s reputation and resources to help build more connections between its industry in Taiwan and customers from all over the world, when he believes new customers can be better served by other peers with suitable products and services. 

With such altruism, the generous second-generation entrepreneur looks forward to inspiring more Taiwanese talented suppliers of robots and automation equipment to bring their innovative ideas to live, while enabling customers to make sure their investments in automation can produce returns as expected. By doing so, he hopes a sustainable, mutually beneficial ecosystem will be constructed in the line, to accelerate the development of robotization and automation in the real world. 


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