Rozum Robotics LLC is an international company with representative offices in the USA and Europe, backed by a development team in Belarus. A network of distributors provides sales and service support of our products internationally—in Asia, Europe, and North America. Rozum Robotics is the first company in the CIS who started to produce collaborative robots.
Rozum has three main founders, Viktar Khamianok, the CEO, Who has been in the IT industry for over 20 years and with a focus on strategy, Mikhail Chuprinsky, the CTO who has been in IT for 14 years and has lead projects in Europe and the Middle East and Siarkhei Charomukhin, the COO who has a focus on delivering hardware design projects, with over 40 custom motion solutions.
The company was the first in the CIS countries to develop social robotics solutions, not content with industrial solutions the venture wanted to automate systems that would be in use in everyday life, and hence their main product Rozum Café.
We managed to interview the Content and PR Manager for Rozum. Here is what she had to say:
Can you tell us about Rozum?
There are companies on the CIS market that produce industrial robots, some of them were founded in the sixties. They make classic industrial heavy robots, but not collaborative. Five years ago, there were no domestic competitors, and Universal Robotics ruled cobots market like to 80%. Our company decided to take this niche and create the first domestic collaborative robot.
The initial problem when creating a collaborative robot was to find good suppliers. The quality of motors is crucial for the product.
We had many tries, but still, we did not find high-quality middle-cost motors. Korean and German motors were good but their price would make our robot too expensive for the domestic market. We decided to go from the very start and to create our motors for robotics. So arrived our first products – servomotor for robots RDrive and frameless FMI motor.
Then it was the robot’s turn. We created two models of collaborative PULSE robots. The payload up to 6 kilos and reach up to 900 mm. The robot was tested; we received all the certificates and passed ISO control, the robot was ready to sell.
But the situation that is typically not for Belarus only, but I would say for the whole Eastern Bloc is that companies are not eager to automate due to the low cost of labor. It is still cheaper to hire ten more people to increase productivity. It is good tactics, but not a strategy. The problem is that automation is not just about quantity but about quality too. Private companies are more loyal to new automation tools, they try to catch the wave of Industry 4.0. State companies have a more conservative attitude and often do not see robotics as an effective way to upgrade production.
And then it was clear for us. No one needs robots, but everyone needs solutions. Our robot is about working with any person and about safe automation. So we came up with different ideas and options for service robotics. So began the story of the robotic barista and Rozum Café.
Rozum Café is one of the core solutions right now because the pandemic has made people more friendly towards robotics in services like healthcare, cafeteria, and restaurants. It became very clear that it’s impossible to make the food industry contactless without AI, robots, etc. So we created a Rozum Café. It’s a compact autonomous café, where a robot professionally brews 7 types of coffee.
We have had a very large number of inquiries in the last month for robot barista because of the concern about the second wave of pandemics. Everyone tries to think where they can develop contactless services, and Rozum Café is in the right place at the right time.
In the last year, we have installed 4 Rozum Café’s in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Saudi Arabia. Our existing clients are a cinema chain that wants to extend their services with the robotic barista and robotic coffee, a bakery chain, who didn’t have initially coffee services then they decided that they would develop their coffee and bakery chain, based on robots, a robotic barista for an event agency, etc. This will remain our core clients, those who work with large amounts of people; the coffee will remain here like all the services and it will not go away because of coronavirus but the way people are served should be changed because of distancing rules.
What were the obstacles you had to overcome as a startup?
As a hardware start-up, we have had some big challenges. The first challenge was to find. We also have to think about logistics which poses a huge challenge. Hardware is dependent on safe and reliable logistics chains and this was a problem during the lockdown. Finally, as each startup, we need not only to find clients that are willing to work with us but to prove that even if we are small but we’re a reliable partner.
As a CIS country, do you have difficulty in western markets?
Automation and service robotics is interesting for the western market and we have representative offices in Poland, Germany, Lithuania, and an office in the United States, but there is no production outside of Belarus. Our factory floor is based there. Our first office and senior engineers, all technical staff are based there, and therefore when we have clients in Germany and elsewhere we work with them through our representative offices that are based in that country.
Challenges in developing Rozum Café
First, we had to decide about the concept. A year ago, there already have been companies that offered robotics for the coffee business, like CAFEX or Briggo. We decided to create an autonomous robotic coffee bar, where a robot works with professional coffee equipment and brews high-quality coffee 24/7.
There were several technical issues that we had to solve. We had some trouble with supplements. For example, to create the proper cup dispensing solution inside the robotic barista. It can sound simple but it was quite a challenge because of various cups densities. It was quite challenging to find or to establish proper communication with the manufacturers of some of the equipment. From the technical point of view, the robotic arm needs to communicate with the coffee equipment and we had to make some changes in the coffee machine, grinder, Capuccinator, etc.
Apart from technical issues and challenges, it was very important to overcome the skeptic attitude of the public. Before 2020, service robots were like expensive toys, now it can be a real business-savior.
After 2020, people will contact more and more with robots, so one day they just get used to it. Like we are already used to home robots.