Robotics, Automation of the Future
If we try to imagine the field of robotics, our minds can conjure up fantastical visions of sentient beings that are capable of catering to our every whim. The reality may be slightly less wondrous, yet no less incredible in its engineering and capability…
Koops Incorporated is a company that has continuously stayed at the forefront of the robotics industry through a combination of in-house expertise and an unrivalled problem-solving team. Koops designs and builds custom automation solutions such as “designing machines that will either assemble, process, or test different components.”
Koops was founded in 1989, and the company’s primary service in its early years was mechanical machine design. However, the growing skills available to the company meant that expansion became inevitable. “We did that for around eight years and, from that point, we continued to add services. Services expanded into controls engineering, so we were able to couple the mechanical knowledge and controls engineering knowledge.” Out of that grew project management.
“We really had a strong team – a team with many unique gifts and opportunities to grow – so we also wanted to build as well as design the machines: build upon our strengths.” As a result, Koops was then able to bring the manufacturing of its machines and equipment in-house and has been manufacturing custom automation for the past seventeen years.
While Koops undoubtedly experienced success from the beginning, it is also true that the company has needed to overcome the same challenges faced by many other firms that aim to reach the top of its industry. “The key challenge was finding and developing the talent: the people. We had to seek out individuals that would align with our core values and then, as we hired people, we needed to train and develop them so that we could all work together as an efficient unit.”
“We have a unique team in the way that we develop it.” Koops has taken a great deal of effort to develop its specialized recruiting system, “so that we could locate, attract, and obtain highly qualified, competent talent for the team.”
That team not only works together within the company but is relied upon to build close customer relationships. Clients need to implement technology solutions to compete in their industries, and relationships with the Koops team are crucial for success.
Unlike other firms, Koops felt that it has the required level of expertise to face head on the challenge of building a customer base. “We have a lot of things going for us in that regard as we continue to deliver solid products, equipment and machinery.”
One result of the growth has been a change in the way Koops operates, and this has been a necessary but worthwhile experience. “As we grow the company, we have different business processes. We have grown from just a few people to a team now larger than one hundred, a lot of our systems and processes needed to change and evolve as we grew.”
Currently, Koops is in an advantageous position. However, nobody at the company takes this for granted, and Koops is always working to ensure that it stays at, or ahead of, current technological trends. “When [technology] changes in our business sector, not only do we have to stay on top of that, we have to stay ahead of it so that we can continue to bring technically advanced solutions to our customers.”
“Our customers look to us to expand their knowledge base and expanding their exposure to new technologies. We have to stay on top of that curve so that we can present solid solutions based on their different needs.”
While true that each custom machine is tailored to the individual needs of the client, Koops also manages to apply technological advancements across all of its business areas and harness these for the benefit of its client, regardless of the industry. “There are certain technologies that can span across different industries. For instance, several years ago, we had the opportunity to develop our expertise in applying robotics to assembly and processing. This was a great technological advancement for us that we apply to many industries.”
Koops serves clients across many industries. However, two key industries have been identified as offering the biggest opportunities for future growth and product development. “Currently, the automotive industry dominates the customer base that we have. That industry is growing by leaps and bounds. It is very healthy right now and produces huge opportunities for us. Another industry is the medical industry where the opportunity for businesses to add automation is growing.”
Although Koops works in these sectors, its client base is spread widely across many others. “We have also done work for the Department of Defense, aerospace, the construction industry, and some general manufacturing.”
The areas in which Koops currently operates are by no means free from competitors. However, rather than see this as an obstacle, Koops identifies the high standards of its competitors as a positive thing for the company. “There is a lot of good competition out there.” With the calibre of what Koops brings to the table, any company wanting to compete must be a highly-regarded system integrator. “If you can’t do that, then you can’t really, in any meaningful way, compete here.”
What sets Koops apart is its genuine desire to innovate when it comes to client solutions. “Innovation. It is something that is part of our DNA. What I mean is that every solution that we provide has unique features and unique twists. Every machine we build is custom; it hasn’t been designed before, and it hasn’t been built before. That in itself helps keeps us on the cutting edge. Every machine that we build is part of an innovative process.”
Koops maintains this high level of innovation by strategically assigning particular team members the goal of discovering new technology. These ‘technology champions’ are in charge of innovation sub-teams. “We put them in charge of that, and it is their job to continually collect, analyse and provide feedback to the team as to how that technology is changing. We can also get that information back to our customers so that they can understand these new opportunities that are out there.”
Regardless of the competition, Koops feels that it has more than enough highly-skilled staff, in-house technological development teams and problem-solving abilities to maintain its place as a leading light in the robotics industry. With these skills firmly embedded in the company, it is likely that Koops will continue to provide cutting edge solutions.