Articles

Unlocking a Better Future Through Automation

By Benjamin Gibbs
CEO and Co-Founder at READY

We are excited to announce the closing of our Series B round with an additional $23M in funding. The round was led by Canaan Partners, with participation from RRE Ventures, Eniac Ventures, Emerald Development Managers, and Drive Capital, as well as new investors Micron Ventures and Greenhawk Capital. The financing comes at a time when our software is powering automation in factories across the country, from small machine shops to large enterprises.

Since 2015, READY’s software platform has powered the next wave of industrial automation. Our software enables anyone to easily and rapidly deploy automation to the factory floor, from actuating pneumatics to controlling robot arms.

We founded the company because we’re at a turning point in manufacturing automation, precipitated by the emergence of inexpensive robotics. While robots have long lived in the confines of automotive factories and the imaginations of sci-fi aficionados, we’re now having a serious conversation about how automation is reshaping our economy and society as a whole. No industry is better positioned than manufacturing to leverage robotic automation in a way that positively impacts our global standards of living.

WHY NOW?

The global middle class stands at 3.59B and is expected to explode to over 5.3 billion by the end of this new decade, bringing with it an ever greater demand for consumer goods and creature comforts. Yet manufacturers the world over struggle to keep up with burgeoning demand because powerful trends serve to strain their manufacturing capacity.

There are 500,000 unfilled factory jobs in the United States and that number is expected to grow to 2.4 million by 2028, primarily driven by demographics. Not only is the US manufacturing workforce aging at a faster rate than the rest of the economy, but many of these unfilled jobs exist in smalltown America where it can be difficult to reliably attract young talent. China struggles with a workforce that has shrunk from 941 milion to 916 million over the last decade, a trend that continues to gather momentum.

At the same time, other trends from tariffs to a shortening innovation cycle are pushing manufacturers to onshore factories to produce goods for local markets. This leaves manufacturers struggling to find enough talent to match demand. Automation generally and robots specifically are desperately needed to just maintain competitiveness. As a result, a recent McKinsey survey found that 88% of all manufacturers look to increase spending on robotic automation.

We’re on the cusp of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution (a.k.a. Industry 4.0), but as the US and global economy are inexorably pulled in the direction of robots and more automation, one big barrier poses a challenge: the current technology landscape is hyper fragmented and overly complex.

Each manufacturer of robot arms uses a different programming language. Programming a FANUC robot requires knowledge of the Karel programming language. Using a Yaskawa Motoman requires programming in INFORM. ABB needs RAPID. Kuka uses KRL. There are over 30 robot programming languages today, a number that continues to grow as new entrants crowd the market.

Yet only a tiny number of people have the expertise to manage these systems: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, out of nearly 12.8 million people involved in US manufacturing today there are just over 36,000 robotics engineers.

READY’S APPROACH

READY created Forge/OS, the first enterprise-grade operating system that controls not only any robot arm from any robot manufacturer, but also all the peripherals needed to make that robot productive in a real world environment. On top of Forge/OS, READY offers productivity apps that provide core functionality to users. Task Canvas is the first of these apps. It allows anyone — with flow-chart ease — to program an automation task with a robot without needing highly specialized knowledge or training.

This ease of use is critical because it empowers everyone on the factory floor to effectively use automation, not just expensive integrators or rare robotics engineers.

Personal computers went through a similar transition 30 years ago. Microsoft Windows provided a platform that unified hardware OEMs and empowered developers to build apps for personal computers — and with a standardized foundation, an ecosystem flourished. Today that ecosystem is worth over $3.8 trillion.

Our system represents a shift from the traditional approach to industrial automation and our growth demonstrates just how hungry the industry is for it. Our revenues quintupled in 2019. We count companies like Stanley Black & Decker and Smith+Nephew amongst our customers. Major automation OEMs are signing up to integrate their hardware into Forge/OS.

READY’s software is only as good as the people behind it. We are fortunate to have assembled a world-class team in Columbus, Ohio, led by sharp minds like Kel Guerin and Luke Tuttle. Kel is a brilliant roboticist with a PhD from Johns Hopkins and recipient of the Kuka Innovation Award. Luke is a seasoned startup executive who recently joined us from Klarna, where he scaled products and teams.

We’ve been able to recruit an exceptionally qualified team because of our mission. We believe READY’s software can unleash a new age of automation accessible to everyone, without the need for weeks of training or an advanced degree.

Robotic automation holds the power to not only raise global standards of living through the inexpensive production of goods at ever greater volumes, but also reshape manufacturing and fuel economic growth. For every robot added to US factories in the last decade, 6.5 new jobs were created. More robots increase competitiveness and lead to more jobs for humans.

We see a future where easy to use robots enable an ever increasing standard of living across the world, and also enable emerging markets to develop their own manufacturing ecosystems. Automation of rote, repetitive manufacturing tasks is just the beginning. Much like Windows and the PC led to a flowering of new innovations and technologies, Forge/OS and inexpensive and easy to use robotics will enable a new generation of innovators to create products that will improve life in ways we haven’t yet dreamed of.

This is the future we are excited about and READY is well-position to help build it. If you are too, visit: https://www.ready-robotics.com/about/careers