Technology has emerged as a blessing, making our life easier and simple, and robotics is one of the significant examples. Even during the pandemic, robotics and automation has provided excellent results in every field whether it is healthcare, education, or logistics.
One prominent European leader in the robotics space is Axyn Robotique, promoting the concept of ‘Robotics for Human’.
In the following interview, Frank Anjeaux the Founder and CEO sheds light on the company’s journey, the current industry scenario, and his vision for the company’s future.
Please brief our audience about Axyn Robotique, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a leading provider of automation solutions.
Axyn Robotique is a French-based start-up created around the project of proposing innovative robotic solutions to the many. The whole DNA of the company is written around the objective of creating real usage value rather than sophisticated but purposeless technical objects.
We have therefore designed our products only after in-depth consultation with real players in various fields such as Education, Health, or Industry 4.0 sectors. Axyn is today one of the prominent European leaders in telepresence robots. We intend to reach very soon a similar position in the intelligent logistic robots offering.
Tell us more about the products and services through which you have ascertained your stronghold within the automation space.
Today we offer to the European market two main types of robotic solutions:
1-The Ubbo Range of telepresence robots (Ubbo Maker, Ubbo Expert, and Edmo) and
2-The Lobo Range of autonomous logistic devices
All these products are entirely designed and manufactured at Axyn’s premises near Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. They all have in common their high versatility. As a matter of fact, we take the benefits of our fully modular robot base to custom-build a version for each specific application.
This is how we have developed Edmo to meet specific needs around the education sector in conjunction with the French Ministry of Education. A version of Ubbo Expert was developed to meet the need of the fast-growing Industry 4.0 has been elaborated with Capgemini or another one was proposed to meet the specific need in senior houses and various players of the silver economy.
There are as of date over 800 robots in action in those various fields. One of our strongholds on the automation market today is the capacity of Axyn to merge both our strong points such as telepresence and autonomous robot into one single combined solution that offers a unique ability to create unprecedented usage value in several different applications.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on why the adoption of technologies such as AI and machine learning is necessary for the automation services industry and how you have leveraged these technologies to deliver your products/services/solutions?
The adoption of AI and machine learning technologies is not a necessity, at least today. Several manufacturing processes and industries fundamentally do not need artificial intelligence. It is therefore essential for the success of this transition not to go overboard in wanting to switch to all “AI”.
On the other hand, its paced and careful introduction can revolutionize the industrial world as it is today. The important factors on which it is necessary to impact are the arduousness of human work and the cost of labor. AI with robotics can go a long way to improving this.
Today, the low cost of labor has allowed countries like China to develop tremendously, becoming in a few decades’ major world economic players. This has not been without causing significant ecological problems, a considerable reduction in the industrial activity in Europe and North America, and therefore economic dependence vis-à-vis these same countries.
Artificial intelligence coupled with mechatronic devices such as robots allows and will increasingly allow the performance of automatic tasks. This automation will lead to considerable reductions in labor costs.
But this transition must be made in a thoughtful way by focusing on tasks that have a significant ROI and those that have no real added value, such as repetitive, daunting, and/or dangerous tasks. It is indeed necessary to consider the human side.
The use of artificial intelligence and automation should not have the objective of replacing man but of relieving him in his daily life. Otherwise, the use of AI could cause more problems than it solves, such as unemployment.
If these considerations are considered, artificial intelligence will revolutionize the global industry. For example, it will be possible for a small company to acquire a multi-tasking industrial system capable of carrying out in-situ what today requires several processes carried out by several manufacturers and hence further reduce costs.
It will thus be possible to produce industrial products as easily as prototypes. The number of parts to be manufactured can then be less impacting on their unit price.
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, what challenges did you face, and how are you currently driving your company to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees?
COVID-19 is at the same time an opportunity and a challenge for us. It is an opportunity in the way that it has stressed the need for efficient long-distance communication media actively helping to maintain social and professional links and interaction without physical presence.
Our telepresence robots are currently helping many patients to connect with their distant families and many distant workers to interact with their distant companies and colleagues. As far as internal organization is concerned, although we remain a relatively small-scale company COVID has been a challenge.
We have implemented all regulatory safety measures (and beyond) and did not experience a significant impact on our production flow. Some of our components and parts have suffered delays in deliveries but not to the extent of significantly impacting the production cycle.
It must be pointed out that we have received large and very helpful support from both public and private sector partners/vendors that have greatly helped Axyn in those difficult periods.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the automation solutions niche?
The crucial point is not to neglect the industrialization phase. With today’s tools such as 3D printers, easily programmable and inexpensive electronic boards, it has become very easy to go from an idea to a working prototype.
This has allowed many innovative solutions to emerging and has helped the creation of many startups. This ease of implementation has nevertheless had a negative effect on some entrepreneurs who believe that, if their system works, it is then enough to sell it.
However, industrialization, which is the intermediate stage between the two phases (creation and market introduction), is essential for the success of the project. It optimizes the product to allow profitable manufacturing in greater or lesser quantities.
This can generate tooling and manufacturing costs that must be considered in the ROI. Besides that, there is the normative aspect that should not be overlooked, especially in automation. The safety of people, the materials used, the actual usages are factors to be considered for the success of the project.
How do you envision scaling your company’s operations and offerings in 2022?
The year 2022 will be a scale changer for Axyn. The Lobo range of autonomous robots will enter its first full production year with a serial version to be released in the market.
Several large projects that were maturing in 2020 and 2021 with prestigious partners such as Orange (French Telecom operator), Capgemini, Schneider Electric, and several others will reach their full potential in this coming year. This will lead to a significant increase in both volumes of production and obliviously turn-over.
About the leader
Frank Anjeaux, the Founder, and CEO of Axyn combined his Engineering background and passion for robotics to create the company in 2014. Frank is a well-recognized mentor of the regional robotic community and actively promotes the concept of “Robots for Humans”. In other words, giving access to real usage values of the robotics to the maximum of people.
Axyn is keen on sharing experiences with its customers in all the economic fields it operates in. The feedback from actual users of its products and services is an essential part of the company’s tools to constantly optimize and improve its products.
In the Health sector:
The direct testimony of Dr. Pascal Meyer, Anesthetist Physician at Forcilles Hospital (Cognacq-Jay Foundation):
“We used the Ubbo robot in the post-intensive care rehabilitation unit during confinement when family visits were prohibited. Our patients are people with a tracheostomy. Most have a physical disability that does not allow them to hold a smartphone. We have allowed many people to see their loved ones and have expanded the possibilities of visitation. A videoconference was made over 3500 kilometers. This visit would never have happened without the robot. It has many advantages:
– First: Ease
For family and caregivers, it is easy to use. The family opens an account on the AXYN website. The procedure is very simple. The role of caregivers is limited to turning on the robot and bringing it to the patient’s room. Videoconferencing does not generate an additional workload that would affect other activities.
– Second: The practical aspect of communication.
Indeed, the head of the robot is placed at a suitable height for a bedridden person or in an armchair. So that the sick person does not have to make the effort of turning his head to direct his sight. The robot’s head is mobile, controlled by the pilot, in our case, the family. It is much more practical than fixed head solutions that require human intervention to control the screen.”
In the industry sector:
Feedback from Virginie Rigaudeau, Hub Manager at Schneider Electric (France):
“We use the Ubbo robot for formal or informal interaction between distant users and factory team members on a regular basis in many different locations within the factory. It can be internal users, distant customers. They can enjoy a truly immersive interaction with the personnel on-site.”
“We really have the feeling that the distant user is with us. A real nice and simple solution for an actual interaction between the local team and distant users.”