Why Ready Robotics’ newest partnership is their most impactful yet
A major new partnership with an important global name is boosting one of Ohio’s most exciting robotics startups. Last month, Columbus’s Ready Robotics — experts in robotic automation software that moved to a Columbus headquarters in 2019 — announced a new partnership with Kawasaki Robotics, one of the world’s largest robotics manufacturers.
“What it means for us is that we have a very close working partnership with a major robot arm manufacturer that is laying a foundation for broader market traction,” said co-founder and CEO Ben Gibbs. “It’s a mutually beneficial partnership — we’re really good at software and Kawasaki is really good at hardware. Combining those two together can create some pretty powerful offerings for manufacturers. This is a very important milestone for where we’re ultimately going. We’re looking to build an operating system layer for robot arms, and this is the strongest partnership that we’ve put in place to date.”
The goal of the companies’ partnership is to improve ease-of-use for Kawasaki’s industrial robots. Ready will be supplying their groundbreaking Forge/OS platform, which aims to help Kawasaki robots simplify set up, programming and deployment of automation, making the end users’ jobs easier and more accessible to workers of different backgrounds. Enabling that broader usage has always been an important part of Ready’s mission. Rather than replacing jobs through automation, their focus is on enabling a much broader range of people to use the robots that can make up for the lack of workers in crucial roles.
“Inside of manufacturing, no one is really worried about robots taking jobs,” Gibbs said. “They’re worried about the fact that they can’t find enough people to do the jobs that they do have. A lot of them would love to work with robots and our interface and application is really making it easier for them to do so. And we’re doing that in mixed environments where, historically, it’s been challenging to deploy robots.”
Everything that Ready Robotics creates comes back to their mission to improve quality of life and productivity through automation. In addition to Forge/Os, they created Task Canvas, a flowchart-based interface that simplifies SKUs, optimizes tasks and more. They also offer Ready.Academy, a free online training resource that helps teach the skills needed to design, deploy, manage and troubleshoot their software. For Gibbs, all those added resources for companies help work toward the goal of enabling the next great jump in manufacturing productivity in America.
“If you look at the history of this country, one of our major strengths has been manufacturing,” he said. “The first industrial revolution helped propel America forward. For a variety of reasons, manufacturing hasn’t been important to us as a society lately, and I think that’s changing. It’s important to me that the technology we’re building helps U.S. manufacturers maintain a competitive edge and continue to grow in a way that improves quality of life for everyone. Technology and automation has allowed us all to live better and more comfortable lives, and we need that in the manufacturing space.”
Progress isn’t slowing down any time soon for the Columbus startup. They launched the newest edition of Forge/OS last year, which is hardware agnostic and usable in just about any environment. Now, in addition to Kawasaki, they’re working on adding “some really exciting” new partnerships with “some pretty major players in industrial automation” that they can’t share just yet. They’re also collaborating in a closed beta with developers, who are working to create an even broader platform. With more partnerships and expanding productivity, things are exciting for the business side of Ready. And from their Columbus home, they know they’re well positioned as they move into the future.
“This expansion has been great for us,” he said. “The fact that there are so many large manufacturers in the Midwest and in Columbus and Ohio is central to everything going on here. The ease and quickness that we’re able to get to these customers has been transformative for us.”