Robotics Cost Consideration



“I need a 2 year payback” to make Robotics “worth it.” This used to be the only accepted logic. More and more credence has been given to the long term value proposition of reliable robotics.

Robots are producing continuous results for nearly 15 years with nominal maintenance costs. Standard maintenance cost of a Fanuc or ABB six axis is about $2,500 every 1.5-3 years depending on run hours. You are probably spending that in labor alone every 3 months babysitting your current method of automation. When you factor in how much of your maintenance team is dedicated to this and down time and parts and frustrated labor replacement, it doesn’t take long to see that a 2 year payback is not the only consideration. In fact there is an intangible value to bringing in robotics. That is giving an employee the opportunity to grow their skill set, esteem, and engagement as a robot operator or technician. Many operations look at robotics as an employee replacement strategy to maintain predictable results for mundane tasks where labor is transient and their is a constant drain of training time. I encourage103 them to take full advantage of their key floor operators to retain the experience through higher partner engagement. This is an interesting perspective for long term results adding retention to reduced cost, downtime, and annual throughput for value consideration.


Some Math

Let’s get back to the less popular, but predominant, employee replacement strategy accounting for a moment. In a 24 hour operation the average $10 an hour employee will cost $175,000 every 2 years. An average operator at $14 and hour about $245,000. Add $28,000 for health insurance (cost the same for each)and $12,000 and $17,000 respectively for company portion of social security plus cost of training and at a glance you spend $285,000. If you add maintenance cost of your current automation of about $6,500 ( 2 hours every third day, depending on how well maintained you are) you are spending $291,500 without throughput consideration. In the operations I’ve seen, just in consistency, there has been a throughput improvement. The cost of a robot and support systems can vary, but easy math puts your budget at $300,000 at a glance if you are basing on employee replacement alone. With just a little more investment robotic automation can be made really easy for operators. I am encouraged by the trend to add the utilization of existing talent to throughput improvement to justify automation projects.

But wait, these questions are just the start:

  • Are we utilizing the same staff to achieve more throughput?

  • Are we raising the skill set of the current employee(s)?

  • Are we reducing staff?

  • Will the robot work with and in my current infrastructure?

  • Will we have the space for the protective cell fencing?

  • How much else do we have to buy?

Each operation is different and requires specific assessment to ascertain the cost value proposition.


When you see the possibilities to improve throughput by investing in more automation you may see the value of going beyond mere replacement. Linear processing, material flow, bottleneck identification, and safety all play a part in determining how much value can be gleaned from an automation project. Contact me to help answer these questions for your situation.

Contact Us

Iso Robotics, Inc.

1066 Grand Oaks Dr

Bessemer, AL 35022

(205) 217-3173

Please provide the required field.
Please provide the required field.
Drag files here or

Iso Robotics, Inc.

3033 Old Stone Dr,

Birmingham, AL 35242