Automation and robotics are some of tech that are at the forefront of Industrial Revolution 4.0. Large, massive corporations and businesses are already taking steps to implement or improve automation, especially in areas such as manufacturing. The benefits that this technology provides certainly cannot to be ignored. Automation can not only increase productivity due to the tireless work of robots, but it can also cut costs due to consistent production.

However, robotics and full automation is both expensive and hard to implement. As a result, most SMEs choose not to implement this new tech. It is not that SMEs won’t benefit from automation and robotics; the requirements are currently just too prohibitive for wide scale adoption by smaller businesses.

Enter ‘cobots’. Cobots are robots designed to interact with humans in the physical world in order to support a job or task. Rather than a fully autonomous assembly line, a cobot would perform a certain task that would help a human with their own task. For example, a cobot arm could sort and arrange cups of different sizes in an organised manner, making it easier for a human worker to attach the right sized handle to respective cups.

Cobots could serve as an alternative to automated assembly lines. SMEs are the backbone of most of the world’s economies. Countries such as Malaysia and Singapore have an SME composition that is over 90 per cent of their total businesses. They are the ones who would benefit the most from robotics.

In order to remain competitive in a global marketplace, SMEs need to get involved with robotics. The tech provides sheer precision, cost-effectiveness, and competitiveness that small players would otherwise never have.

Fortunately, the costs of cobots are dropping drastically, making it easy for companies to explore the use of cobots in the manufacturing environment despite the budget constraints.

Cobots are also incredibly easy to add to an existing factory layout, making it easy to test and trial. Most SMEs that trial cobots don’t go back to the way they used to do things simply because cobots make them that much more productive.

As large industrial producers and high-tech firms become more open to renting out cobots, it would not be a surprise to see more and more SMEs adopting the tech.