Robotics as a Service

Formic has been in business for almost two years. Our team has over 300 years of combined experience in industrial automation and robotics. We provide robots or any other type of automation (case packers, palletizers, case erectors, AMRS, and Automated Forklifts) as an operational service where manufacturers “pay as they go”. We charge only for the uptime of the equipment (think of a staffing agency that provides robots instead of manual labor). Our customers save 40% on average on their operational expenses compared to their rising labor costs. We scope, design, and install the equipment and won't charge until the system is up and running at our customer's facility. We also continue to monitor, service and maintain the robots at no additional cost, so the production doesn't miss a beat. We like to call it RaaS (Robotics-as-a-Service).To get more news about Robotics as a Service, you can visit official website.

Although most of the robots we have deployed are working in secondary food handling, we have a range of solutions that could work anywhere from primary to secondary food handling and even in freezer environments. The Formic team and our contractor network will take into consideration the various challenges when designing our system and deploying automation in food processing and production plants.

There are currently an increasing number of tasks that can be done in end-of-line material handling due to the increased flexibility of automation solutions that were not possible in the past. These solutions include flexible mobile palletizing and case packing robots with simple interfaces for operator interaction and simple recipe changeover. The majority of these tasks were not automated in the past due to the complexity of set-up and programming, which are being addressed by more flexible designs and an increasing number of easy-to-use software interfaces. The second biggest trend we see is in end-of-line pallet handling with AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots) and automated forklifts, which are being adopted for moving goods within a facility.

FPSA: Does Formic produce technologies for further upstream, for example, in food processing?

We are only offering material handling, pick and place, and inspection systems for food processing plants. Formic will continue to work with our customers to address the need for automation, and upstream food processing could be evaluated in the future if there’s an increasing need for such solutions.

FPSA: What are some of the challenges you have seen among customers in adopting robotic technologies?

Production volume uncertainty, performance risk of automation systems, lack of in-house expertise to scope and identify automation opportunities, and heavy upfront investment required to purchase and implement the system are among the top reasons why automation hasn’t taken off as much as everyone is expecting. The current process of acquiring automation puts the majority of the work and performance risk in the hands of the end-user. The cumbersome and unfamiliar process keeps manufacturers from moving forward with purchasing decisions, and uncertainty around customer contracts also hinders investments. Robotics-as-a-service solves both challenges by absorbing the risk and enabling flexible, short-term automation contracts.
FPSA: Talk to me about food safety. How does food safety fit with your robots?

Regarding primary food handling, we know safety is of the utmost importance. Primary food handling is done by dedicated food and clean room robots equipped with food-grade grease and special coatings. We've considered all possibilities regarding primary food handling and can design our food robots to address safety and ergonomic concerns.