In this episode, we speak to Peer Robotics CEO and Founder Rishabh Agarwal and Chris Rose, the Manager of Customer Success.
Based in New Haven they build robots designed to work with humans that offer accessible automation for all!
Welcome to Meet the Manufacturer's podcast, brought to you by Manufacture CT and sponsored by Cohn Resnick who is dedicated to helping manufacturers and distributors to enhance their competitive position and succeed in high pressure trade environments. Visit them online cohnresnick.com. Meet the Manufacturers is available on all of the world's biggest podcast platforms.
Including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Spotify. Never miss an episode again and subscribe today wherever you get your podcast From. On every episode, we take the opportunity to learn more about a local manufacturing business. Welcome along to the latest episode of Meet the Manufacturer's podcast, brought to you by Manufacturer CT in association with Cohn Resnick.
Now on today's show, I'm joined by Rishabh Agarwal, the CEO and founder, and Chris Rose, the manager of customer success from Peer Robotics, based in New Haven. Now, I'm quite excited about this. I've seen films. I want to know everything about what you gentlemen do, so welcome to the Meet the Manufacturer's podcast.
Well, thank you, Claire. It's certainly a pleasure to be here. Thank you. Thank you for your time today, and let's kick it off. Somebody tell me what peer robotics is all about. What are you doing? How are you changing the world? I think I can start with that. So at Peer Robotics, we truly believe in collaboration between humans and robots and not fixed automation.
And that's what we are doing at Peer Robotics. We are building robots that can learn from humans in real time, and that can work along with them, not replace them, but empower them. And our main focus is to work along with small and medium scale manufacturings and bringing these technologies to empower the SME manufacturing.
Now, I had a little look on your website. And one of your strap lines or these strap line is designed to work with humans. Now, some people will be thinking, okay, robotics in manufacturing, we're doing away with humans jobs. The world's gonna end, it's gonna combust. Talk to me about the benefits, not just to the companies, the small to medium sized businesses working within the manufacturing sector, but how is this gonna improve their output and how does it gonna affect their workforce essentially?
Yeah. I think one of the core ideas behind design to work with humans is robots are dumb. No matter how we think about it. No matter how we kind of see the perception with open AI and all those different things that are happening, they're getting better, but. In a lot of physical way, the decisions that humans make, the speed of decision we, you know, we can execute at is not something robots can match.
But robots are very good at doing dull task, repetitive task that frankly no human should also do. Like it's not something that is adding value for their cognitive intelligence. And that's where I think the future, which we believe that lives and that human robots working together. And not just in manufacturing, in every segment of our life, whatever applications we see, which humans don't want to do right now are simply not value add for us.
Slowly, we are gonna build systems, automation or different kind of models around it that would help us automate that and we can focus on our creative endeavors and use our brains, which is what they're there for. Absolutely. And there is such a move towards streamlining manufacturing and automating.
Essentially as much as can be possible to improve their output. So Chris, you've got this lofty title. Explain to me about customer success manager. I love it. Sure. Claran, thank you. Joining the team here came on with a background in manufacturing and then also a hybrid with technology and its application for manufacturing.
So industry. 4.0 technologies and how they can benefit the businesses. Having worked with a lot of manufacturers in the northeast here, predominantly metal stampers and sheet metal workers, in a prior life I'd seen what some of the shop floors were dealing with in terms of the hurdles in finding the labor to actually come in and, and move some of these materials around, as well as the limitations of.
Old or long-standing buildings and infrastructures. If you're an older manufacturer or a long-standing manufacturer and you have an existing in infrastructure and you're not out to build a new building, sometimes it's very difficult to revise the infrastructure within the facility at a beneficial cost.
Being able to utilize, you know, some of the technology that. Team here has put together, and as I began to meet the team and understand the product, it really is, as Richard mentioned, you know, the ability for the robots to learn from humans. So currently on the market, when you talk about autonomous mobile robots and things, doing what we're hoped to do, which is automate material handling and the movement of things like.
Bins, totes or trolleys, typically you have to purchase that hardware and then you have to pay an integrator or a specific engineer who knows that product to come in on the software level and deploy that solution. Now, when you're a small to medium enterprise and you're not, let's say, a large aerospace manufacturer or.
Car manufacturer, right? And you're looking to automate to stay competitive and to stay relevant in the industry, but you are limited by these things of saying, okay, I can afford the hardware. It's that extra cost that can sometimes be upwards of 70% of the integrator side or the, uh, engineer side to come in and deploy that solution.
That's where the limitation and the hurdle comes for that small to medium enterprise. So to be able to come in and take a solution like Pure Robotics, a M R or more of a collaborative type of an A M R. And deploy it with your frontline workers, with people who are on the floor, who are not necessarily specific engineers in the technology, but simply people who understand your operations.
And the technology is so straightforward and built to learn with and from humans that it allows them to go out there and deploy and redeploy around their existing infrastructures or with their change in workflows. So in a long way, that gets to where I am with customer success manager, and that's working with the companies and bishop and team to go in, really understand what their flow is, like, where their hurdles lie in their automation journey and their material handling movements, and to see if we can't find a solution with a peer robotics type of a M R.
Whereas a lot of these companies don't really understand that these types of solutions are even on market and accessible today. So that's what we have going on, is really working with the owners, the engineers, the frontline workers to understand their workflow, understand where hurdles might be in the movement, or whether it's hiring and finding labor, or it's the infrastructure, and then really scoping out a solution that might fit for them.
That sounds genuinely like the answer to the prayers of a lot of manufacturers that I've been interviewing over the last couple of years. Robots don't need vacation time. They don't need sick time. They definitely don't need toilet facilities. Sorry, restroom facilities. I can see the benefits. I can and that ability to work relentlessly and to be scalable, but also personalized for their layout.to harness this technology in:
That's exciting times for a lot of people. Surely. No, I would just add on to that, Claire, that. Why we are doing that is I come from small, medium kind of manufacturing background, so my dad runs like a car radiator manufacturing line. My cousins in the family would have aluminum extrusion and all that, right?
So going through and living in that area, I. Like one thing I can realize and understand, the pain point is that manufacturers are not saying no to automation. They are already burdened with so much workload towards the delivery, towards maintenance, towards keep their existing operations running. That they can't take over the additional load of, now bring a new system, get trained on it, get it operational, get maintenance on it.
Right. It's a burden. Right? That's the core philosophy behind period that we are not making these solutions for large enterprises because automation, if there is a way automation would be successful, it's by empowering 90% of the manufacturers. In us, which is actually small manufacturers, like only 10% manufacturers are large scale.
The 90% of fabrication is happening in that small manufacturing. So if we have to make a dent, it has to come from small manufacturers, not from the top manufacturers alone. So, yeah. Yeah, no, absolutely. I can really see that being hugely beneficial, particularly of course in Connecticut where we do have absolute mass.
Of heritage manufacturers multi-generations in, in many cases. That's exciting stuff. So a little bit. Not diving into the techy stuff too much. I do want to understand what you're saying cuz I can see that you're a big brain. What types of robotics do you have available for people? So you talked about handling materials.
Is that a primary benefit or, or usage? For robotics application wise? Yes. Our core focus on application is movement of goods. As Chris mentioned, that we try to go in and enable people to automate their material flow on the shop floor. On the technology wise, you can think of it just like a small driverless car, so it's like a small driverless car moving around on the shop floor.
It can pick up objects like a trolley or a bin on its own without any human intervention there. It can learn the paths you want it to follow from humans or do it autonomously. Open spaces. It can identify. It uses cameras and lidars, just like again, a driverless car to understand and navigate around humans and objects.
So yeah, that's the core technology behind it and what we bring on the table that no one else was able to do so far. Was include human haptics. So now we gave the robots the ability to learn from human feedback, and that's a physical feedback. So now what happens is that robot becomes a trolley for a period of time.
You just move around that trolley and next time onwards it's autonomous. So it's literally as simple as kind of teaching a new team member that, hey, that's how we do the operations. Here we go here, we pick up this object and we take it to that location. And that's how robot also learns. That's awesome. I love that.
I was in a hotel in Germany not so long ago and I ordered some dinner at a hotel. It was one of these very modern hotels. Sounds very grand. It wasn't, it was like a motel essentially, but it was, it was a modern motel, should we say. And I ordered steak and chips and a robot came out to deliver it to my table and I'm like, This is the first time I've ever seen this before.
I must have looked like I was from the back end of nowhere, and I'm like, what is going on? And I'm like, do I tip it? I was like, I'm not too sure, but the idea of it. A human took my order, but the robot delivered my food. And obviously I'm sure it was brought in around covid times, you know, it's uh, the element of, of social distancing and things.
But it was the first time I personally had seen robotics in a very public setting. Working absolutely perfectly. I didn't tip the robot, by the way. I didn't. I'm not sure what that's all about. I tipped the guy who took the order though, so it's exciting stuff. And how long has the company been going? I.growth. So we started in late:
And at that phase we were just trying to understand the concept and building cool technologies like any engineer would do. Then, oh, this looks good. Like, let's make that right. So we started doing that, but one good thing we did is we went out and started talking to manufacturers in Calu. To understand what are their pain points, what are their requirements?
So quickly we focused ourselves from building cool technology to useful technology for the manufacturers, and it was around that period. We also got connected to Techstars and Stanley Black Hartford. And they run this Techstar Stanley Black and Decorat program, which is like supporting startups and expanding the Connecticut state.
So that was a very important phase for us because that gave us the exposure and understanding about the entire state of Connecticut, how the manufacturers are looking to kind of expand their operations. What are their pain points? We got connected to Ron from Seacat, Jackie, c a, like the organization around there.
Advanced CT, Connecticut Innovations, the entire Connecticut ecosystem, right? So we were deep in the roots there now and like now part of manufacturing Siri, right? So we were able to go into the. I would say the ecosystem, understand people like Pain point and start growing and building our technology focus towards those kind of, you know, solutions.
And that's where Chris joined in. And I think Chris can expand a little bit more on his kind of, you know, focus in this state right now. Meet the manufacturer's podcast on behalf of Manufacturer. CT is created and produced by Red Rock Branding, red rock branding.com. If you are enjoying this episode, please subscribe to and share this podcast today.
Yeah, sure. Thank you Richard. And yeah, expand on that Claire. So, you know, wouldn't meeting the team here, and again, as I mentioned, I had that background for five years at brokerage steel for companies, so getting them the raw materials they needed to make the product. But having had seen that, and that was right before, that was during a, a large offshoring here locally for those.
Metal stampers and that type of metal. Now, luckily we held onto a lot of aerospace here, but in seeing what they had done, and I don't have an engineering background per se, but the application, the need for it is immediately identifiable, right? I know that people are really struggling to keep businesses going because they can't find the talent.
The talent they have within, they'd like to move up into more important and engaging roles. Yep. But they still need to make the movement of some, you know, some of these scrap metals or the raw materials throughout the floors for kit and assembly, for example. All that stuff still needs to happen to keep the business going.
Not to mention, you know, around here if you are a young engineer or any of that nature, I would like to think, or I do believe that you are typically looking at going into one of the large aerospace manufacturers, you know, the Pratt and Whitney's, the Sikorski's, which makes total sense, right? But there's a lot of those small to medium enterprises that are doing really innovative and really exciting work that need to attract that talent as well.
And to be able to show that you're forward thinking and you're willing to adopt, you know, the new forward technologies. Sort of blend in with the times that you need to to be competitive with offshore as well as the bigger enterprises by implementing automation, whether it's a large scale or it's something small in the sense of a pure robotics a M R, you don't necessarily need to.
Have a plan to scope out a fleet of AMRs to get ROI out of the movement of materials on your floor. If you're a small to medium enterprise and you're simply running 1:00 AM m r, but it's saving you a tremendous amount of man hours or downtime that you were previously experiencing from someone coming away from their station, there's a lot of value there.
And in the industry currently, after talking to the team and meeting peer robotics, you know, understanding that the other companies out there that are attacking, addressing the issues that we're attempting to address are doing it in a very different model. In turn has them, in the larger enterprises paying attention to larger enterprises, they do require that software level, engineering level deployment.
So someone specialized in the technology or in the. Employment to come out and help assist with that or revision of that plan. Let's say you wanna change the line 18 months later, you gotta call the company or an integrator out to come and redeploy the solution. Now, if you're a small, medium enterprise, those financial burdens are, are just limitations that are gonna keep you outta the market with pure robotics.
You know, really removing that and just enabling. Those tier two, tier three manufacturers and and the large ones, you know, if they were interested to come in and have the product understand it, but deploy and redeploy at their leisure without the need to really bring in that extra layer. We linked up here in about September of last year really, as Bishop had mentioned, had been.
Accepted and, and you know, adopted by the local manufacturing ecosystem here in New England, Connecticut specifically. So we've joined all the programs, you know, manufacture ct, and we are well in involved with advanced CT and, and organizations like that. But that's been great because those people have been, you know, really open to discussing what we're attempting to do, what they see in the market.
And really just, you know, kind of adopting us into the ecosystem to better understand, you know, how we can help the manufacturers around here. So here we are now, we've done a few shows and we've had some really interesting interests from companies that we did expect. And then likewise, I think companies that we weren't expecting, showing interest in the product for reasons that weren't really, you know, In the forefront of our minds, but make total sense now as we start to look at the, the bigger picture and the larger solutions of automation in manufacturing.
It's exciting. It is exciting. I was gonna say that and, and our risks sounded a little bit pedantic, but it genuinely is an exciting time and it could make such a difference to some of these small to medium sized businesses that I've been speaking to week in, week out for several years now. Question for you.
So I'm gonna play devil's advocate. They, I'm a small to medium sized manufacturing business realistically. From the time it takes me to call you and for you to come in and, and identify those pain points and suggest a, a solution for a element of their, their manufacturing process, how quickly can you get something in place that is doing the business for them?
Yeah, and I think that's the core, again, like focus here because we don't want the manufacturers to wait or plan things around a year in advance or you know, six months in advance cuz they don't have that visibility for that long term and they wanna move quickly. And that's the core benefit behind period.
Like as soon as we go in, we understand whether this is an application that we can go in and add value or not. Once that is clear. Like we can deploy or have the robot operational in a day or two for the user so they can roll it out. Wow. Back on a day or two, which is platform, working on the field, getting value, and that's the core differential because Wow, now we are not sending out those software engineers.
We are not scoping out or changing infrastructure. We are not asking them, Hey, this production line seems to be at this spot, which doesn't work for us. So now can you change it to like Y location or Z location, right? Mm-hmm. And those are the things that enable us to go in quickly and start making things operational.
Other point that I would want to mention is what we do with a lot of manufacturers is, Sometimes they don't have the CapEx value to purchase the robot or purchase the system up front. So we go in and work along with them on a service model, which is like very similar or what we call is like robot as a service.
Where they can lease out these robots for a period of time, whatever they feel is more convenient for their operations, and they can increase the number, decrease the number, or change those fluctuations kind of based on their operational requirement. So what that means is they get the benefit of automation entire thing, like no holidays, nothing constant 24 7 operations, plus at the same time the flexibility that they want or require for their operations.
So those are the two key kind of focus areas for us. That really is a win-win. I had no idea it could be implemented that quickly. I like the idea that it does learn from the expertise which we are having in the state and on the shop floor. It learns from humans that are doing the business now. And you're right.
You know there are. A number of jobs, not just in Connecticut, but across the, uh, the whole country, which are becoming more and more difficult to fill, and they tend to be on the more manual end of things. And this is a perfect solution. And what a wonderfully quick turnaround. I was expecting you to say, oh, okay, we will build something for your specific needs and it's gonna be months out, but.
That's quite incredible. That's quite incredible. Claire, I gotta say, so I overheard, I think Rich about the last show, whether it was in an Uber or over my shoulder, and you have to explain this better, but high level, what I heard you say was along the lines of, you know, if you're, if you're an organization looking to automate, you don't necessarily need to stand up a team of automation engineers.
You don't need to build a center of excellence around this. That's counterproductive to the. The entire purpose, right? You should be able to go out there and start to deploy some automation on your own. So high level, you know, there's really not a need to bring in. Like, you know, if you're a certain organization, yes it makes sense that you're gonna build out that type of program.
But if you're a small toum enterprise, don't feel limited by, oh, I have to go hire two or three engineers to run this program, or specific people to handle my automation efforts. You can start to dip the toe in the pool of automation very simply and very easily with. You know, like Pure robotics amr, simply by the fact that it is so easy to deploy, quick to deploy.
And intuitive, you learn from the, the people on your shop floor. So again, another reason why it made me passionate about the product and, and getting it out there. So yeah, I can see that. I genuinely can see that. I also like the fact that not only does it do what it needs to do and doesn't require specialist training in order to do it, but the actual idea of being able to essentially lease this would be very interesting for a number of companies, you know, because the money that they're going to save in automation.
He's gonna more than pay for it. Absolutely is more than gonna pay for it. Absolut, that's fabulous. They can get ROI from first one. I like that. They don't have to wait. It's like driving a car. I can't afford. I can't. I'm lease this one. What has been the hardest part of bringing this to marketing? What objections do you get that you have to overcome when you go to a a manufacturing facility and maybe they've got a slight interest, they're not entirely sure how it's gonna work for them on their bespoke level, if you like.
What are some of the objections that you get in the first instance that are the most common questions offered asked by manufacturers that you have to overcome because the product can do what it needs to do. You know, one of the main things I run into is people have the pre assumption or there's the assumption that it's not gonna work for the shop floor.
They might have explored these solutions loosely or at a high level, possibly with, you know, other providers of AMRs or AGVs, for example. They might have some. Confusion as to what the exact difference of those two products are. So one, being a guided vehicle, one being an autonomous mobile robot. But let's say even if they understand the technology down to that point, it's immediately, oh, I've looked at this, it doesn't work with my shop floor, my infrastructure, or it's, you know, I can afford the amr, but it's the cost of implementing the, the, the hardware and the software and deploying.
It's educating them that, okay, understanding that you've scoped this before, we may have a solution here. Due to the nature of our product that can actually work around your existing infrastructure and not need that integrator or engineer level to come out and deploy or redeploy. We have run into.
Organizations that use competitor product that are experiencing a lot of downtime because they can't get the service they're looking for. They're not getting the attention they need, and they need these specific engineers to come in to help redeploy their system if they have them down. So they're saying, okay, you know, I've had robots sitting on the floor waiting for redeployment for two, six weeks, whatever it might be.
So when you meet someone and you, you talk to an organization that says, oh, you know, I've looked at AMRs. They don't work with my facility. It's overcoming that objection, that hurdle, that, okay. You know, what have you looked at? Let me try to educate you on what we can do to work with you and what our product does differently that might be able to work around your current layout.
And sometimes you identify it won't work, right? They really just have something that won't work and that's fair. But more often than not, you know, you're able to find a solution with our product and people just simply don't understand or know, rightfully so. Cause we are new, that the technology's out there and exists and, and it is, you know, accessible to them.
So it's just educating them on that. Yeah, I would expand on that from the same point of view that. Manufacturers are busy. They don't have time to explore those other segments that are going on, and they would want to do something that will add value today. Historically, automation has always been an investment that would bring in value after two years, three years.
So the instant automation comes into picture. The reaction becomes that I'll take a look into it when I grow to a size where I can afford automation, right? So the immediate reaction is that I'm gonna look into it, it's exciting, I'm gonna look into it. Once I grow to that level, oh, my aisles are probably smaller, or my facility is probably way smaller than the requirements.
But the barrier is just that, that, okay, there is actually automation that can be implemented today. You don't have to wait for an ROI for three years. And those conversations are something that we face as a biggest kind of hurdle, and we are working around it and having a open discussion that you don't need to buy anything.
But I think it's important that we understand how the automation is quickly moving because. Companies who won't be implementing automation would have kind of like, would face those burdens in the coming years. Right? Because right now is the time where the adoption is gonna become important as we keep on sh our manufacturing back to.
Kind of New Haven, Connecticut, all this entire places are bringing manufacturers back and we want them to do that by enabling automation not the other way around. That's actually a really good point. You've gotta get on board. It's coming. It's whether you choose to get on board now or wait and have to do it later down the line.
And that and that kicking the can down the road, so to speak, might actually not make the most financial sense really, guys, that's fascinating. And I'm genuinely quite excited now. I'm sure we have quite a few listeners to this podcast, which is fabulous. Obviously people passionate about manufacturing. If they wanted to find out more about peer robotics and what you guys can offer, maybe have somebody come and take a look at their shop floor and say, alright, you reckon that you've got a solution that can bolt Bolton to my existing business essentially, without me having to completely turn everything around.
How can they get in touch with you? What's the best way to reach out to you and find out more? Claire, you know, they always can reference our website. It's pure robotics.ai. Of course, you can reach out to me directly or Risha my phone number eight six zero two two seven seven five seven. No, don't give you a number.
You'll end up on a toilet door. That's what I'm saying. It's one of those though. I mean, we're very accessible in that sense and agile, you know, I mean, we're quick to move. So, you know, we just came back from Chicago and we're, we're going out to various sites, possibly Mexico, possibly in the Midwest here to start deploying.
We're doing that very quickly to get people up and running who are excited to get these AMRs in front of their. Clients in their network. So we are very active on LinkedIn as well. People can reach out to us, connect with us on LinkedIn. Yep. We constantly share the solutions we are building on LinkedIn, so if they're interested in something and something catches their eye, like feel free to reach out to us.
And as Chris mentioned, like Chris and I, we are accessible over email. Our office is in New Haven, the district, so very close to Advanced City. And if you want to come meet us, like that's a location that will be there. Guys, that is fabulous. You heard it here first. It is time to embrace the future because guess what?
It's not the future. It's here. It's actually arrived. Do check out the guys on LinkedIn. Let's have a little look at some of those fantastic solutions that they found for manufacturers. Primarily designed. For small to medium sized manufacturers. And don't forget that website, pier robotics.ai. Bishop Chris, I'm excited and it's been an absolute pleasure learning a little bit more about what you guys are doing and bring in the future a little bit closer cuz it's now.
And I really wanna thank you for your time today being a part of Meet the Manufacturers, the podcast. Yeah, absolutely. We appreciate it, Claire. Thank you. Really appreciate the time and discussion. Thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode of Meet the Manufacturers brought to you by Manufacture ct.
If you would like to find out more about manufacture CT or you would like to join the organization, visit the website, manufacture ct.org. This podcast is sponsored by Cone Resnick Advisory Assurance Tax. Visit their website, cone resnick.com. If you have enjoyed listening to this episode and want to find out more about the vibrant and thriving manufacturing community in Connecticut, subscribe to and share this podcast today.
Meet the Manufacturers is available on all podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Spotify. This podcast was created and produced by Red Rock Branding. Red Rock branding.com.