Bringing the World Within Arm’s Reach.
ZERO-in on Productivity & Profitability.
Back in the Day
Elisha Gray was a pioneering inventor in the communications industry. Although Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the invention of the telephone, Gray had independently and concurrently developed it and there was great controversy over who was really first.
One of Gray’s later inventions was the telautograph, a machine that used potentiometers and servomechanisms to make possible the transmission of handwriting over distances via the telegraph network. The device, an analog electromechanical forerunner to the fax machine, was a commercial success and served multiple industries.
What’s Past is Prologue
The telautograph was an early manifestation of a powerful technological concept. The device enabled real-time manipulation of a tool remotely over a communications network. The scope of the invention was limited to handwriting, but being as brilliant as he was, Gray must have seen the larger potential.
Imagine what Elisha Gray would have developed if he had today’s technologies at his disposal, like the Internet, 4G LTE (or newer) mobile networks, advanced sensors, augmented/virtual reality, and collaborative industrial robots. (Well, that’s what we did.)
The focus of modern technology left the desktop for the pocket, and has been carried into many more aspects of daily life. At the same time, there has been a shift toward more tangible applications. We are early into the era of mass automation. Actuation has joined audio and visual output in the experience. The way we live and work is due for remarkable change. There is no doubt. Things are about to get interesting!
Our goal is to facilitate the performance of skilled manipulation tasks in a commercial or industrial environment without having to be physically present to do the work in person. This would make it possible to draw from a worldwide workforce and achieve labor arbitrage without having to relocate plant and equipment.
Areas of Disruption
- Markets with inflated labor rates
- Local ownership/control of plant & equipment
- Lower carbon emissions by reducing distance labor and manufactured goods have to travel
- Freedom of location
- Employee benefits
Utility & Value
Freedom of Location
- No longer required to reside close to workplace.
Labor Rate Arbitrage
- Remotely replace workers in higher cost labor markets with those in lower cost labor markets. The amortized cost of a remote work system is estimated at $2/hour and say the cost of labor is $5-$7/hour. Total cost is $7-$9/hr. If local cost of labor is $15, the system is saving $6-$8/hr, which is about half! And there are no ancillary employment costs (benefits, tax, etc.)
- Levels the playing field by technologically neutralizing competitive disadvantages created by government policy (e.g. high minimum wages).
- People with unique/rare/in demand skills who are dispatched to diagnose and solve problems can “ZERO in” instead of flying out.
Health & Safety
- Operation in harsh environments that pose risks to human health.
- E.g. respirator or other personal protective equipment required.
- Avoid training, certification, insurance, liability costs.
- Record and playback movements for repetitive tasks.
- One person’s controlled movements can be mimed by any number of machines.
- Sometimes the human element is the right tool for the job, especially in a dynamic situation that is not easily fully automated.
- Use human training to teach artificial intelligence.
- Mechanical Turk-ability… (more to come)
Gateway to Mass Automation
- Serves as the quick and dirty solution for immediate results.
- Programming automation can represent a barrier to entry, but there is no programming here. If full automation is possible, the transition from remote control to unattended automation can be as seamless as pressing play.
Retain Direct Local Access & Control Over Fixed Capital
- Eliminate the need to relocate plant and equipment overseas, and incur associated costs, delays, and risks.
- Increase organizational agility, reduce “barriers to retreat”. If offshoring does not work out as planned, managers often find themselves too entrenched to admit making a mistake and recover gracefully. Good money goes in after bad or the diminished state of the business is papered over with creative accounting to make poor decisions appear beneficial. By offshoring labor alone, the “barriers to retreat” are significantly reduced, and rationality is restored to otherwise self-deceptive thinking.
- Slow depreciation, reduce downtime, maintain productivity. The level of support and maintenance of plant and equipment moved overseas usually cannot match what is provided domestically, causing it to depreciate faster, malfunction, or otherwise not be as productive.