SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) — Until recently, the robotics market consisted largely of large, expensive industrial robots with fixed arms and maneuvers used primarily for the production and distribution of goods.
The main customers of these industrial or factory robots are car manufacturers, electronics producers, metal and machinery manufacturers.
However, the years-long COVID-19 epidemic and rapid aging in South Korea, which intensified the labor shortage in the service sector, have created a new demand for smaller and cheaper robots used in restaurants and cafes.
Kim Min-kyu, CEO of Bigwave Robotics Inc. Its bot-as-a-service (RaaS) platform, Marosol, is focused on the changing industrial landscape.
“Robot automation has been used for a long time by large manufacturing companies or medium-sized companies, but the market is now expanding,” he said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency last week. “But the barrier to entry is still very high and Mosol can lower it.”
Marosol, an AI-powered robotics automation matching service, efficiently matches supply and demand for robotics companies. It helps customers implement optimal robotic solutions to become more cost-competitive, while encouraging companies producing robots to focus more on the consumer.
He said his clients are small-scale merchants or mom-and-pop owners who want to hire robot waiters, cooks and security guards to adapt to the indirect service trend and tackle the labor shortage.
Without Marosol, he added, small businesses take a long time to decide on the best robotics solution after meeting people from several supplier companies. Some give up due to the time-consuming preparation.
“The bot market involves information asymmetry,” he said. “Some entrepreneurs want to buy a bunch of robots but have to do it on their own from market survey to price haggling. It takes a long time. Meanwhile, suppliers don’t know how many new customers are out there waiting to buy the system.”
He said that more than 50 percent of Marosol’s clients are small and medium-sized businesses and another 24 percent are businessmen from the service sector.
Besides a list of 500 automated products and a supply and demand matching service, Marosol also offers financing programs such as rent, loan and installments for the funds required for the introduction of collaborative robots, along with a post-processing service.
In particular, the archive of videos of robots successfully operating in stores, restaurants and logistics companies is the most trusted corner of potential robot buyers.
“CEOs of small service and logistics companies like to see videos of past cases,” Kim said. “Our video database is attractive to them.”
Since launching the service in early 2021, Marosol now displays 2,500 successful, real-life examples of robotic solutions in video footage.
Marosol recently launched a new used bot trading platform, the first used bot market in the country.
“The demand for second-hand robots is greater than expected,” Kim said. “We opened the flea market in August, and 10 deals have been made since then.”
Kim said he hopes Marosol will play a role in promoting a market for robots where all customers, even small restaurant owners, can easily purchase robotic arms for frying fast food, such as french fries and chicken wings.
“In order to popularize a product, all related processes ranging from manufacturing, logistics and services must be salable and accessible,” he said. “I want to create a new ecosystem for robotic goods.”
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