Digitalization trends, new technologies, but also the corona crisis are changing the economy and production. Michael Otto, Chief Sales Officer of KUKA Robotics, explains in an interview what effects this has on the sales area.
How has the demand for robots at KUKA developed in and through the coronavirus crisis?
“At the moment, many customers are reluctant to invest, which is also noticeable in our company. This is due to the uncertainties surrounding the corona virus pandemic. At the same time, however, we are noticing an increased general interest in robotics. There are considerations to produce more in Germany again. This can only be done economically with robotics. We therefore expect that automation solutions will be in greater demand in the medium term as a result of the experiences from the coronavirus crisis.”
What advantages does robotics offer in general in the crisis? Are there new fields of application due to a pandemic?
“Robots offer numerous advantages. They are predestined for repetitive tasks because they work with the highest precision and around the clock without getting tired. They give people the time to tackle more demanding tasks. They compensate for the lack of skilled workers. In times of crisis, these advantages come into their own, also because a lot of thought is given to new applications. Pipetting throat swabs from potential corona patients – this is a job for the KUKA Cobot LBR iiwa, which supports the laboratory staff at the Bulovka Hospital in Prague.”
What are the current challenges facing sales at KUKA?
“We are in a good position to benefit from the trends towards automation and digitization. Since many customers do not have a lot of experience with these topics, we are increasingly supporting them as consultants. KUKA and T-Systems, for example, have formed a partnership and offer digital solution packages to small and medium-sized companies. As a result, companies in the manufacturing industry benefit immediately from digitization”.
The sales department acts as a consultant?
“Consulting is indeed an increasing task in sales. According to the motto Consultative Selling, we look where and how we can provide targeted advice. This can go as far as so-called automation audits. End customers ask us, for example, to walk through their production to see where digitalization and Industry 4.0 make sense. This is particularly interesting for medium-sized companies. This is how medium-sized companies as well as large enterprises approach us”.
What role does digitization play in sales?
“According to studies, only 20 percent of companies in Germany have so far begun to digitize their processes. We, too, are currently in this process. We have developed our own platform that customers can use to order spare parts. On the digital marketplace, anyone can choose the robot with the right payload and range.
But here, too, we are active in a consulting function. The interface question is becoming more and more important: How do I integrate robots into my production? This is an issue that is decisive in sales discussions with customers and system partners. It is essential how I can integrate the product and the entire software and process topic into the customer’s system configuration