Q: What industries do you specialise in, and which have the greatest dynamism?
A: Due to the nature of the business, we try to reach most of the industries where the manufacturing part appears. ASTOR specialises in the digitization, automation and robotisation of manufacturing processes, and our main task is to supply products and solutions in this area. When talking about automation and robotics, we operate quite extensively, but we also pay a lot of attention to education and training in order to facilitate this first step. Currently, we are experiencing the greatest momentum in two branches of our business – robotics and industrial software. This is reflected in specific industries, i.e. construction, FMCG, engineering.
Q: What do you consider to be the most important trend in industrial automation today?
A: If I had to point to a specific trend I would definitely choose Industry4.0. The current industrial revolution brings new opportunities, but opens up opportunities for small batch production in particular. Many companies are affected by the automation roadblock when they do not produce large series that would bring economies of scale and allow a quick return on investment. That is where the latest automation and robotics solutions help, creating flexible solutions required by a changing market.
Q: In what areas and production tasks can automation produce the fastest, measurably cost-effective and particularly beneficial results?
A: Particularly where the machine or solution will operate at a desired higher efficiency, improve product quality, maintain repeatability and production continuity. In addition, it will relieve employees of monotonous tasks, allow for data analysis, order and service prediction. Not all of the listed effects need to happen simultaneously for automation to be beneficial. Sometimes it is enough to maintain the repeatability of the manufactured component, and the effect will be in the form of a very short return on investment and contribute to a permanent reduction in costs. If we focus on specific robotic applications, we can point to palletising, welding, painting as activities that can be easily automated and will help optimise the manual process.
Q: What industries are most important to you right now, and which products are your audience most likely to reach for?
A: We are not closing ourselves off to any one industry, while the ones that are key for us are certainly education, metal, machinery, construction, metallurgy, electronics, energy, furniture, automotive and chemicals. The situation we all faced, related to the pandemic, has changed the previous outlook on investments. At the moment, two trends are indicated – robotisation and digitisation of enterprises. It is in these two sectors of our business that I can point to the products that customers most often reach for, namely industrial robots and mobile robots, as well as SCADA and MES-class industrial software. Robotics is no longer considered a scary thing in Poland, it is making a real impact on increasing repeatability and productivity. In contrast, digitisation has become a source of accurate and real data on the basis of which companies can nimbly make strategic decisions.
Q: What are your plans for the near future? Any new products, solutions, or maybe you are planning to enter a new industry?
A: The automation and robotics market imposes a bit of a bluntness that motivates learning about new technologies and solutions all the time. The plans are ambitious, developing the entire organisation, but focusing on Industry 4.0 solutions. We are constantly striving to add more companies to this still small group of companies that can boast just the industrial solutions of the future. Products that have already emerged and will be developed all the time are machine learning systems with 3D vision, artificial intelligence in intralogistics and manufacturing systems, and what is becoming a reality – the creation of digital twins of workstations and even factories. The aforementioned intralogistics is a place we want to take stronger care of with good solutions.
Q: What are the peculiarities of the local market, comparing it to the engineering industry in Germany, for example?
A: Polish companies create unique devices on a global scale. What sets us apart is first and foremost innovation and a fresh approach to solving programming and construction issues. A lot of machines are created prototypically, a big influence is the local demand for customer-dedicated solutions. There are also quite a few solutions emerging that have been building for years and are creating real competition for those in the foreign market.
Q: What are the key barriers to faster factory and process automation in our country – technical, financial, mental?
A: The hardest part is that first step. Barriers are created by ourselves, while concerns about the sensibility of the investment, the amount of costs, the encounter with new technology have always appeared and will continue to appear. The biggest roadblock to investing in automation is changing the status quo. Sources of financing vary, but are available in the form of subsidies, concessions, loans, or leases. Industrial automation and robotics technology has also been known and developed for several decades. The decision to invest is created by the need arising from working conditions, development and, above all, the market.
Q: In the age of automation, what in particular should be taken into account when building a market position?
A: It is necessary, first of all, to prepare for change. When investing in applications, one must consider the flexibility of solutions. One cannot close oneself to the assumptions prevailing at any given time. The ability to adapt to a changing market is something that opens up space for growth.
Q: Thank you very much for the interview, I hope it is not the last one 😃
A: Thank you as well 😃