I spent a lot of time at Glasstec on the stands of the suppliers and resellers of glass robots – the electric powered lifting, carrying, and manipulation devices used within factories and for site installations. The ability of robots to position large heavy items exactly where required to allow the glazier to glaze the unit in place is awesome. We sell, install and service these units and see huge potential in some of the markets we supply. The reason I say "some" is that in "some" markets these amazing products haven't yet caught on, while in others they are very much the norm.
On one stand I visited I asked the reseller who his typical clients are. I expected him to say large glazing companies with multiple glazing teams. To my surprise he advised that more and more sales are being made to start-ups – to single staff businesses which have a van and a bit of stock and need a robot to allow the single man to complete work that he would otherwise need a team to do. Ie. By having a robot allows the glazier to be more competitive in more areas of the glass market.
This supports what we at The Glass Racking Company have thought for some time. There is an opportunity for at least one glass robot in every town or region almost irrespective of population. Obviously in cities there is a much greater need, but every small town has shop fronts, some commercial buildings, some buildings with heavy partitioning, some architectural homes with large glass items, etc. Whichever glazier in each town or region is the first to purchase a robot will secure most of not all of this "heavy weight" glazing business.
It's a simple commercial decision. A robot to lift 600kgs costs around NZ$53,000, or US$42,000. The commercial decision is based on how long the robot will last (say budget on ten years) and what income it will generate. Income includes :
1. The amount of additional business in the glass industry
2. The amount of new business in other industries (once the construction industry knows you own a robot expect to see opportunities for lifting, carrying and positioning other non-glass items on site)
3. The reduced costs for your existing business (less staff required for site installations)
Food for thought. If you want a new point of difference in your market or you want to grow your business this is worth a look.