Doug Pickard, CEO and one of three founders of RMT Robotics answers questions about the start-up and success of RMT Robotics.
Question: What was the driving force behind the launch of RMT?
Answer: The three founding partners of RMT, Richard Bauman, Dave Wilmshurst and I had extensive experience introducing robotics and machine vision into the automotive industry and we felt that other companies and industries could benefit from our experience.
Question: What kind of challenges did you face upon start-up? And how did you overcome them?
1. Credibility. As a brand new company we started the business in the third bedroom of a townhouse. It certainly wasn't easy to establish credibility when you can offer no place of business to conduct meetings.
2. Money. We looked for start-up capital but times were tough in the early ‘80s. We managed to scrape through the first year on a few small studies that allowed us to move into a 3,000-square-foot facility with some office and assembly space.
3. Sales. When we started in the early ‘80s, the economy was in the middle of a recession, people had plenty of time to talk but no money to buy.
Question: What was the state of robotic automation technology in the industry when the company first opened? (Acceptance of automation, technical advancements, etc)
Answer: In general, robotics were not well received at the reception desk when we showed up to do our sales job. There was widespread concern that robots would eliminate jobs rather than protect jobs by improving productivity. Additionally, almost all of the robots were limited to the automotive industry.
Question: What would you say has been RMT's greatest engineering accomplishment to date?
Answer: Over the years, RMT has accomplished many incredible achievements. Our greatest engineering accomplishment to date has been the development of large gantries that move at a maximum 3.6 m/s and get to that speed in less than a second. This technology allows customers to sort, store and pick a large number of SKUs at a very high rate, much higher than previously possible.
The implementation of ADAM into industrial environments is also an incredible accomplishment. The ability to navigate autonomously outside of a staged laboratory environment is an amazing feat for the robotics industry.
Question: What has been your proudest moment as President of RMT Robotics?
Answer: There have been many moments when I have been very proud of the accomplishments of the team at RMT. My favorite moments are when I see a fully commissioned system installed at a customer's facility, and it is handling the product so effortlessly. I can spend hours just amazed at the symphony that is being performed on a 24/7 basis.
Question: Over the past 30 years, RMT has experienced continued growth and global expansion. Where do you see RMT in the future and what will RMT do to ensure that it remains competitive?
Answer: RMT will continue to grow on a global scale by offering innovative and best-in-class solutions for a targeted set of applications. For RMT this means continuing with the innovation that makes us the leading supplier of robotic material handling solutions to the tire and food and beverage industries. In addition, ADAM will be available on a global basis where it will push the envelope and allow companies to perform their internal multi-origin to multi-destination delivery tasks in a very efficient, flexible and cost effective manner.
All companies must critically examine how the product they supply meets the needs of their customers and how their processes deliver that product at a competitive price. In the summer of 2010, RMT Robotics was acquired by Cimcorp Oy of Finland. This strategic move allows RMT to remain competitive and continue to ensure that our products are the most cost effective in the market.