How to Compute the Return on Investment of Robot Surface Finishing

Surface finishing refers to multiple manufacturing processes that enhance the strength and appearance of a finished product.

They work by removing, changing, adding, or adjusting the material. These processes are achieved through electrical, chemical, and mechanical means. Surface finishing has evolved and today robots can be used to make it faster and easier.

However, is robot surface finishing better compared to manual polishing or sanding? Let’s discuss how you can calculate the return on investment (ROI) on robot surface finishing.

Is Robotic Surface Finishing Ideal for you?

Before investing in a complex new robot kit for your polishing and sanding tasks you need to calculate its ROI.

How then can you go about it?

Which calculation method would be the best?

What factors should you consider to get a factual result?

According to experts in the robot industry, it’s important to establish whether and why you need a robotic surface finishing system.

While the reasons will vary for different businesses, make sure you have a tangible reason before adopting the new system.

How can you achieve this?

Start by asking yourself the following questions.

What problems do my team and I face in the current polishing and sanding setup?

How significant will robotic automation be in solving them?

Will using a robot change the problem?

What other options are available?

If from these questions you’re certain that a robotic system is all you need you can proceed to do the calculations.

There are two methods of calculating return on robot surface finishing. These are the payback period and ROI.

ROI (Return on Investment)

Return on investment is the portion of your expenses that you acquire over a specific period such as a year.

The ROI, for instance, can be specified as 25% annually.

You can also use the return on investment to find out the general return against the course of a defined term project.

For instance, a 50% ROI annually for a 3-year project may offer you a 200% overall return on investment.

Payback Period

The payback period is also known as simple payback. It’s the amount of time that the polishing or sanding robot takes to break even.

The payback period, for instance, can be outlined as 6 months.

Which of these Methods is the Best?

These methods define return similarly.

In many business investments using conventional industrial robots, the payback period can be up to five years for example.

In this case, using the ROI method would make more sense.

It’s important to understand that collaborative robots often break even within a shorter period such as less than a year.

In this case, the best thing would be to calculate both the payback period and the ROI.

Both of these calculations are simple and can give you a precise idea of how effective the robot will be in your operations.

Steps to Calculating Return on Investment for Surface Finishing Robot

Download an ROI calculator

Universal Robots offers a downloadable tool which you can access free of charge. You can use it to establish the payback period for your robot.

Find out the Cost of Your Manual Finishing

Unlike manual polishing and sanding, a finishing robot helps you save. You can establish the cost of your manual polishing and sanding tasks by:

  • Establishing the number of employees working per shift
  • The number of daily shifts
  • Hours per shift
  • Salary paid to sanding and finishing employees

Calculate the Initial Cost of new equipment

Before your robot can become functional for your business it’ll require various accessories.

A conventional industrial robot needs more additional equipment than their collaborative counterparts.

Ascertain the equipment that you’ll need to buy to accomplish robotic surface finishing.

A good example, in this case, would be a sanding kit.

Don’t forget to factor in the robot’s cost.

Assuming you have a collaborative robot that you hardly use, you can use it for sanding tasks instead of investing in a new one.


By calculating the return on investment for your surface finishing robot, you’re able to understand how effective it is for your business.


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