June 13, 2019 - Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR), a supplier of autonomous mobile robots (AMR), announced today the availability of MiR Financing as a new leasing option for customers who are looking to acquire a MiR solution. This new financing option will make MiR AMRs affordable for organizations who don’t have the capital to acquire a MiR AMR outright. This option is important for small and medium sized businesses (SMB), and MiR solutions are especially competitive for SMB applications.
According to the MiR press release, customers will be able to setup a lease for the entire AMR solution, including the robot, any custom payload, custom integration costs and ongoing maintenance. Ongoing support for leased robots will be handled by MiRs local channel partners.
CHECK IT OUT: Calculate your costs to own a MiR Robot with the new MiR Financing leasing calculator.
“While sales of our mobile robots continue to thrive, many companies still prefer to lease their logistics equipment rather than make a capital investment upfront,” said Thomas Visti, CEO, MiR. “Leasing the robots becomes an operational expenditure instead, enabling our customers to quickly get started reaping the benefits AMRs offer as they automate monotonous, repetitive, and often injury-prone manual material transportation.”
Is this a true Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS)?
In our opinion, technically no. This new announcement only partially fulfills the requirements for a RaaS-based solution. Based on what was announced today, MiR Financing is a competitive advantage for MiR and enables MiR to provide new financing options which will help customers get over capital expenditure (CAPEX) roadblocks in the sales process. With this new leasing option, customers can now “pay as they go” with MiR AMRs and allocate operating expense (OPEX) funds to pay for new automation programs. This is a big win for both MiR and their customers. One expected advantage of MiR Financing as a MiR branded financing option (over a third party leasing agent), is that MiR Financing should help speed up the sales process. This would be similar to automotive financing options such as GM Financial in the automotive market.
The AMR leasing market and RaaS has had a slow start over the last four years because most banking and leasing agents do not understand the mobile robot market and have been hesitant to encapsulate the risks of managing AMRs as capital assets. With MiR announcing this service as a MiR-branded financing option, we can assume that they have educated their banking partners about the risks and rewards of investing in AMRs as assets. This is great news for the maturity of the RaaS equity market.
What’s missing in the RaaS service offering?
Finally, to be clear about the opportunity here: the AMR companies in the market who are offering true RaaS solutions must include three key capabilities to be considered a RaaS solution:
- Subscription based payment model, based on key performance indicator measurements.
- Remote monitoring, support and maintenance. (The “service” in Robots-as-a-Service)
- Utility model: the ability to scale consumption as needs change.
From this news, MiR Financing addresses the first requirement, but MiR has not announced any new capabilities for requirements 2 and 3. As a result, we can’t call MiR Financing a RaaS solution at this time. RaaS is getting a lot of press recently, and there are many robot vendors who have committed to delivering RaaS as their primary (or only) economic model. It’s clear from MiR’s marketing efforts that RaaS is resonating with customers and we think that is an indicator of the maturing market for RaaS.
“The Robot-as-a-Service (RaaS) model of delivering autonomous mobile robots is helping to bring automation in the form of robotics to new markets that might otherwise not be able to make investments in this technology,” said John Santagate, research director for Commercial Service Robotics at IDC. “This model allows buyers to reduce the risk of deploying robotics, as the vendors shift from selling robots to selling usage and outcomes. We see this model as a key element in the current and ongoing growth in the market as it brings this technology to buyers and markets that might not otherwise make investments in robotics.”