"The Pandemic Was Actually A Boon In Disguise", Co-Founder, Genrobotics
Genrobotics a Kerala-based robotics company is aiming to provide solutions for problems related to sanitisation such as Manual Scavenging through their Innovation and Technology
The Innovation in automation has led to the rise of Robotics as an important part. It is important not only in terms of manufacturing, production or AI but also in societal work like Sanitisation. The Co-Founder & Director at Genrobotic Innovations, Rashid K shared how they are contributing and their company's innovation
1. Brief us about your company, its business model and operations.
Genrobotic Innovations is the leading Robotics company in India, headquartered in Kerala that primarily focuses on designing and developing of Robotic solutions to address the most relevant social issues. We are driven by the concern of developing tailor-made products and services that have keen importance in the nation’s prospering progression.
Our innovation “Bandicoot”- the manhole cleaning robot, has been making transformative changes in the lives of many sanitation workers. We are enduring the perseverance to create, develop and implement systems that are capable of bringing beneficial changes to the community as a whole - by triggering off the distressed elements of the people, and fostering a better place to live.
Genrobotic Innovations performs its business activities through the B2G (Business-to-Government) model format, through which direct sales activities, operations and maintenance work take place. These activities not only include sales of Bandicoot but also covers the maintenance service if any maintenance function arises. Apart from these we also carry on with rentals to the government and to government contractors (B2B).
2. What are the unique key points (USP) of your company?
Incorporating human-centric technology with robotics and AI, Genrobotic Innovations is dedicated to helping the needy by developing robotics and AI infused technology that can enhance human lives. The R & D team at Genrobotics has developed all the technologies and other capabilities in-house, making the team unique in the robotics industry. The technology provided is able to achieve greater capabilities due to this inbuilt technology as Genrobotics runs multiple stages of testing activities in-house from the conception of ideas to the execution of every single project. Our every product bears this benchmark.
Bandicoot was invented with the only concern of eliminating human interference in manhole cleaning. Its unique compatibility and its elucidated mobility feature provide easier access to the sewer hole regardless of the area of its location. Its robotic arm is designed to perform shovelling, grabbing and pulling the waste even from the corners of the manhole.
The robot has specially designed four-night vision, water and sewerage proof cameras so the depth and darkness of manholes won't be a threat anymore for cleaning the manholes. After collecting all the waste using its robotic arm from every corner, its intelligent bucket system will collect the waste and pull it out from the manhole. The bandicoot robot can be electrically powered through direct electricity, generators or batteries. We can also monitor the operation of the robot using a High definition screen.
3. How are you different from the existing competitors?
Bandicoot shares the target market with other paradigms of competing products of desilting machines and sucking and grabbing machines. The design and development of Bandicoot Robot is a standout in comparison to other products in the section of sanitation.
The bandicoot robot is a unique, one-of-a-kind robot that is designed with a combination of an expandable bucket system and robotic arm for precise and surgical cleaning with an expandable multi-functioning robotic arm that can move to all corners, enabling maximum cleaning area with 100 per cent more efficiency comparing to desilting, sucking or grabbing solutions.
Precision comes with swing-free cleaning inside the manholes for which stability is essential for providing the utmost and efficient cleaning, for such efficiency Bandicoot comes with 4 Robotic Legs to improve stabilisation by adjusting each leg, creating more reachability and 100 per cent efficiency. In short, a swing-free action enables an efficient cleaning system which is absent in desilting, sucking or grabbing solutions as these machines are only focused on serving the purpose of mere cleaning rather than having efficiency.
Using desilting machines, sucking machines or grabbing machines induces the chance of creating traffic congestion, this is where Bandicoot plays its role being the accessible robotic scavenger in the world that causes zero traffic congestion. Bandicoot comes with 4 Machine vision cameras for efficient and effective sewer cleaning, it helps the operator to clean in Low-Light and Night conditions enabling visual inspection, with a 13.3 -inch HD Display. As a result, reaching any depth of the sewer hole is no more a concern which is a cut short absence in other models of sanitation devices.
With all these constructive features, Bandicoot undoubtedly earns a higher ranking in its scrupulous attributes when in comparison to any form of solutions available in the market. Because Bandicoot is not just streamlined to clean manholes but to bring in an undisputable change in the lives of thousands of sanitation workers involved in it.
4. What are the various challenges that you often come across in running your business?
After all, being a hardware startup, we faced numerous challenges, such as insufficiency in space and manufacturing difficulties. Though compared to software-based startups, hardware startups get through so many hardships and hurdles to transform into a firm. We ran into that old hurdle all startups face lack of funding. There is a need for funding when it comes to manufacturing, prototyping, and testing. The inadequacy of money to get the requisite raw materials, and create and test the product topped our list of challenges.
Being a hardware startup, the least expected challenge we realised was the availability of the infrastructure resources. Those available were in favour of IT sectors. Though there are hardware infra, none of them was streamlined in robotics. So setting up our own infra for manufacturing, prototyping, and testing was the only option we had. Experience and funding were the only challenges for that. But ultimately we made it. From our college days itself - we have got trained in the skills for entrepreneurship with the E-Cell, which helped us a lot in fixing the venture challenges.
5. What is the impact of the pandemic on robotics?
The pandemic for Bandicoot was actually a boon in disguise. Bandicoot came more into the limelight during this time period. With the pandemic in its apex condition, sanitation workers were more reluctant to perform the cleaning procedure. The hygiene and sanitation department of the country had to actively think about ways to keep sanitation activities on track. Bandicoot played a pivotal role during this period. The assurance of zero manual interference made more municipal corporations and other state governments to be attracted to Bandicoot and thus having a tremendous impact on the sanitation activities of the country.
6. What are the traction details (achievements of the company)?
Genrobotic Innovations commenced as a startup with minor investment and exposure, but within a few months, we became fairly visible to the investor pool, the government and the common public. Our prestigious product invention has been instrumental in changing the lives of lakhs of manual scavengers of different municipal corporations belonging to 17 states of the country. Till date we were able to fully cover the southern and western regions and are still counting to reach and cover the remaining regions.
Our visionary focus has given us the capability to run over a BEP point during our initial year of inception and consecutively we were able to attain profitability for the next consecutive years. In short, we were able to gain proper stability from our initial days of commencement itself.
Bandicoot brought us enough credibility with various Recognition and investments that enacted as a support system, through our prestigious incubators and investors like Swachhata Startup Challenge, in integration with Villgro Innovations Foundation, Padmashri Sridhar Vembu (Founder and CEO of Zoho Corporation), Padmashri Anand Mahindra (Chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra), Mr Rajan Anandan (Former Vice President of Google India), Unicorn India Ventures, SEA fund.
These recognitions and the support earned made us venture into more areas where robotic technology could be used to bring about a change in the lives of people. This eventually led us to develop G Gaiter - the robotic rehabilitator in-order to provide better and more efficient robotic rehabilitation to patients with paraplegia.
7. How do you look at expanding your business?
We are currently working on more innovative solutions to the problems concerning human lives and are constantly researching new possibilities to develop existing solutions. Through the export of Bandicoot robots, we have expanded our business to other markets and have ensured a firm presence in the ASEAN markets with this step. We have also proclaimed our presence in the European market. Through this, we expect to provide our innovative and human-friendly solutions to all people around the world. As a part of further expansion activities, we are also diverting our focus on mass manufacturing of our products as increasing demand from our target market.
8. What is the market size and opportunity in this sector?
Two third of the world's population is projected to live in urban areas by 2050. As living standards in cities are increasing, people tend to choose cities for living. So governments and city authorities will be more focused on maintaining an effective way of sanitation and sewage-cleaning techniques.
This opens a wide market in front of us. The physical dimensions of manholes may slightly vary from country to country, but most manholes are designed as per standards, and the way of cleaning those is currently done manually. India- our home market alone constitutes 4000 cities with a population ranging above 5 lakhs. Apart from this, there are 100 smart cities and 7 major cities having more than 7 million population. Each small city has at least 5000 manholes and the total number of manholes is about 25 to 40 million.
In a survey conducted by SULABH International says that about 4-5 million people are engaged in manual scavenging. In terms of business, there’s already a huge open market and there’s no obvious solution for manhole cleaning without manual intervention other than Bandicoot.
9. What are your future plans with respect to the Indian Market?
We plan to expand our business all across India, with respect to Bandicoot, at least 1 lakh Bandicoot robots are required and 5000 new robots opportunity is created every year due to rapid urbanisation. Currently, we are operating in 17 states of the country. As far as G Gaiter is concerned we are planning to outspread the solutions to all major hospitals and facility centres across India with an aim to help paraplegic patients to lead life independently and recover their health condition and bring them back to life by regaining their lost ability to walk. We are looking to reach out to the maximum number of paraplegic patients across the country to recover their health condition.
We are expecting to reach various municipalities through the support platform developed under the "Swachhata Startup Challenge" an initiative of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs and Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD). Our vision is to make Bandicoot the most used sanitation robot in the world. We are committed to making our technology accessible and affordable so that it can help eliminate manual scavenging across India.
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