Up until very recently, robots were out of financial reach for SMEs.
Robots are particularly suitable for repetitive and laborious tasks. They increase throughput, reduce production costs and can remove bottlenecks in production. They enable custom, limited run production and just-in-time production. Just-in-time production is a economic alternative to needing costly long term storage of thousands of parts.
Automation using robots has previously been financially prohibitive as solutions were targeted at capital intensive large volume manufacturing using large single use robots. This led to SMEs being at a distinct disadvantage.
The recent introduction of small, multi-purpose, lower cost robots and co-bots allows SMEs to do many different things without having to change facilities or buy in expensive machinery. Collaborative robots work with rather than instead of workers and tend to have more sensors than their large-manufacturing counterparts. There are also some new innovative subscription based payment models more suitable for SMEs.