Canadian Manufacturing

Taiga Robotics aiming to help manufacturers with supply chain issues

Taiga Robotics is already seeing businesses move their operations onshore, and they say shipping and logistics is much easier with pick-and-place packing robots.

May 4, 2022   by Sadi Muktadir

Taiga Robotics aiming to help manufacturers with supply chain issues

On Apr. 11, MaRS announced the next cohort for phase 2 of its SCALE AI program, called Supply AI. This accelerator is meant to help advanced manufacturers and tech companies scale up their businesses and acquire a larger presence in the Canadian market and help commercialize supply chain solutions.

One company chosen was Taiga Robotics, a pick-and-place robotics company using AI to help manufacturers with easy packaging solutions. The leadership team at Taiga Robotics sat down to discuss their plans for 2022 and how they hoped to benefit from the program.

“We have three main goals as we see it. Help with increasing our customer base, assistance in improving the messaging towards our new prospective clients and launching on Demo Day,” says company CEO and Co-Founder, Dmitri Ignakov. “We used to make robots for hazardous environments to help in nuclear and emergency response situations, and in 2021 we pivoted to doing this. We saw that bigger corporations were able to deploy robots already, but small manufacturers who were struggling to find labour were not able to find affordable robots. We want to communicate to them that we’re here for them.”

Taiga Robotics’ main efforts in 2022 are towards improving the technology in their robots and growing their customer base, according to Dmitri.

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The Taiga team was asked about how their robots address supply chain troubles plaguing manufacturers across all industries, and Ilija Jovanovic, COO and Co-Founder, says that while the demand for the robots may be sporadic, having the capacity to meet the labour demand with robotics is easier than it is with labour.

Taiga Robotics is already seeing businesses move their operations onshore, and they say shipping and logistics is much easier with pick-and-place packing robots.

When asked about where they think their robots can help in an already saturated market, the leadership team was positive.

“It’s a matter of scale and scalability. A logistics company or bakery owner doesn’t have a robot currently that is automating things for them. The smallest Taiga unit is much more affordable than what’s currently available, and can be deployed at a much more manageable scale,” says Dmitri.

With this in mind, Taiga Robotics mentions that they will be targeting shipping and packing companies that are sorting and processing mail and packages, e-commerce markets involved in retail and the cosmetics industry as places that can use more affordable Taiga robots.

Another key point in the labour shortage discussion is whether or not robotics and automation helps or exacerbates the labour shortage by creating a reliance on technology and eliminating jobs. Taiga mentions their experience in helping a customer bid for a water-based product that is being imported from Mexico. According to Taiga, the Canadian client ended up continuing to purchase from Mexico instead of onshoring their operations as they could not afford the cost of labour in Canada. If they had chosen to work with pick-and-place robots, the cost of labour would have been much more affordable as 50-100 jobs would have been created in Canada instead of the cost of creating 300 jobs without robots.

On this theme, the Taiga team was asked about some of the key challenges they foresee as being an issue in the future, and Taiga mentions how governments regulate new technologies from within insular silos. Taiga mentioned the banning of the Tiny Mile sidewalk robots as an interesting case of this. Taiga’s work with AI means they will need a more reasonable open market if they are to continue growing unencumbered.

Taiga Robotics will be an interesting AI company to watch as they get set to launch their latest technology at an upcoming demo day. Small manufacturers would benefit from keeping an eye on how these robots can help them onshore, expand and address supply chain issues.