By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association
According to consultant Jeff DePree, principal of Halcyon Development, one trend in today’s economy is that more companies are finding ways to improve or re-deploy existing robots. Another force at work is price competition from OEM’s who are trying to compete with used systems. As a specialist in export and overseas distribution, he sees a growing market for used equipment in developing countries.
Robots are famous for reliability and flexibility, and these attributes can be a bane to makers of new robots and a boon to new and existing users. New robot orders for the first half of 2009 are down by more than a third as reported by Robotic Industries Association (through June 2009). Somewhere in that equation is the used robot market (which is not tracked by RIA).
Among the beneficiaries of these trends are companies like Servo Robot, a company Mr. DePree holds in high esteem. “Their seam tracking software is a good upgrade to welding robots already on the floor, regardless of make or age,” he said. “Software and tooling upgrades are smart investments and a good way to manage tight budgets.”
New robot users are popping up just as economic pressure forces integrators to find more non-automotive customers. DePree helped an aerospace company in Mexico deploy robots to blast engine turbines before recoating them. He also sees growing acceptance of robotics in the wind turbine market. He commends RIA for its white paper on new market opportunities in the wind turbine industry.
“Robots are used very effectively in the fabrication of long, complex parts like carbon fiber blades for wind mills,” said DePree. “The RIA white paper is very timely and does a good job looking at the diversity of applications.”
One of the attributes that makes Halcyon successful is its own diversity. DePree sees about 50 percent of his business outside of robot applications. His knowledge of the paper and converting industry allowed him to set up a network of reps in India for a client. So happy were they with the database and marketing work that they now lean on him for direct sales and marketing support.
Halcyon Development is a “niche” International Business Development consulting firm that provides strategic marketing and sales channel development, new product commercialization planning, strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions services to international clients in the industrial and life sciences automation markets.
In today’s market, it is good to have a company like Halcyon on your side. A member of RIA since 2006, the company excels at helping clients navigate through difficult economies and into new markets abroad.