Structured bidding is key to automating in 2024

Robot Business

Structured bidding is key to automation and buying robots in 2024

Structured bidding is key to automating in 2024

Søren Peters

In tomorrow's uncertain economy, structured bidding can help manufacturers automate efficiently, even when budgets are tight and workers are scarce.

Since the Covid pandemic, more U.S. manufacturers have been using robots, with sales reaching new highs for two consecutive years. Driven by the massive labor shortages, automation became not just an option but a necessity for businesses struggling to find and keep workers.

But even as the economy weakens and we face a new year full of uncertainty, the labor issue remains critical. Over 72% of manufacturers in a recent National Association of Manufacturers’ survey named hiring difficulties as their top worry, more so than economic downturns.

This means automation is still crucial as we approach 2024. However, investing in robot technology can be daunting, especially with the current economic uncertainty – which the recent drop in robot orders this year also shows. At HowToRobot, we've noticed that many businesses hesitate, particularly when buying their first robot. The process can seem complex, time-consuming, and risky – all red flags when money is tight.

The key to unlocking automation in such a moment is structure: Make the automation process straightforward, quick, and with predictable outcomes.

Why a structured process matters in buying automation

Businesses generally have a straightforward process for buying anything from raw materials to office supplies and services. But when facing investments in robotics and automation, businesses often approach it in a less organized way, in our experience – especially if automation isn't a core part of the business. This lack of structure can be an obstacle to effective implementation.

In regular buying, companies are on familiar ground. They follow a well-defined, efficient process. They know whom to ask for quotes, what to ask for, and how to get the best deal. However, this process often falls apart when it comes to automation.

First of all, who do you ask? New to the field, businesses often don’t have a network of robot and automation suppliers they know and trust. This can make it difficult and slow to get started.

Secondly, what do you ask for? What are the must-have features? How do you know if you’re getting a good deal? Robots are often sold as custom-tailored solutions, making it complex to specify their requirements. This uncertainty can make buying automation harder and riskier than it needs to be. Getting comparable bids from different vendors can be difficult, leading to limited options and varying cost estimates – a big challenge when budget is a concern.

That's why having a clear, step-by-step process for buying automation is so important. It should be as easy and clear as any other buying decision. This way, businesses can confidently step into the world of automation, knowing they're making the right moves.

How structured bidding streamlines automation projects

Buying automation in a structured way means having a clear set of steps, deadlines, and responsibilities – plus a standardized way to outline automation projects. This clarity speeds up the process and helps get various proposals that directly address the business's needs. Through HowToRobot, we’ve seen how businesses that previously spent more than a year looking for solutions were now able to get results in under a month following a structured process.

An essential part of this is the project scope. Defining too many technical details can backfire, resulting in few responses or unsuitable solutions. Often, this happens when end-users define too many technical aspects of the automation solution – for example, the type of robot to use. Unless the end-user knows robotics very well, it could lead to a suboptimal and costly design.

It’s often more effective to focus on the process – describe the task you want to automate in detail, using precise terms, and include documentation, photos, and videos. Also, clearly state your goals for automation, like reducing labor or increasing output, and by how much.

Doing so levels expectations with automation suppliers bidding on the project and gives them enough freedom to propose what they believe is the solution best suited for the job. If those suppliers are chosen well, the resulting offers will give a good indication of what’s possible to automate, what the outcome will be, and what it will likely cost to achieve it.

Ultimately, structured bidding can simplify the transition to automation next year, making it less intimidating and more manageable – even in uncertain times.


Søren Peters is the founder and CEO of – a global platform that makes it quick, safe, and simple to get started with automation. HowToRobot provides a structured process for businesses that want to automate, helping them specify projects and get a range of solution offers through its global network of vetted robot and automation providers.