Korean Robot Company “RF” Conquers Japanese Windows“Window cleaning robot” for homemakers captures the global market, Plans underway to enter the US next year
승인 2017.12.06 04:19:39
▲ RF’s Japanese partner Sales on Demand Corporation showcased RF’s window cleaning robot “windowmate” at iREX2017, held in Tokyo, Japan last week.
In recent years, there has been an explosion of robotic products, but none have been so practical as to actually improve our daily lives. In this context, the rise of the window cleaning robot company RF has caught the industry’s attention.
At iREX2017 International Robot Exhibition held in Tokyo, Japan, RF’s window cleaning robot “windowmate” was showcased at the booth of their Japanese partner, Sales on Demand Corporation.
In just this year alone, the company exported 9,000 windowmate cleaners to Japan. With total sales topping 10,000 units, their sales to Japan accounted for 90% of that figure. Although originally designed to clean home windows, these window-cleaning robots can be used in commercial facilities such as hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops.
RF’s Japanese partner Sales on Demand Corporation made a name for itself when it sold most of the American company iRobot’s Roomba vacuum robots. These days, however, the company has set its sights on the window cleaning robot business. They hold the exclusive distribution rights in Japan.
▲ The “windowmate,” currently being sold in Japan
The price for a windowmate in Japan is 90,000¥, tax not included. Sales on Demand Corporation is planning extensively for a large-scale new product presentation on January 24th of next year. This year, RF will launch new popular version of the products and accordingly embark on a large-scale mass marketing campaign. The company has aimed to sell the new products for 60,000¥. For their current WM series product, the company plans to include cleaning detergent and cleaning pads with the product and increase the price to 120,000¥.
▲Sales on Demand Corporation Executive Officer of Head of Business Division Hideyuki Onodera (left) and CEO of RF Sharon (Soonbok) Lee at the windowmate booth.
At the exhibition, the Sales on Demand Corporation’s Executive Officer of Head of Business Division Hideyuki Onodera revealed, “Our windowmate sales target for next year is about 40,000 units.” Mr. Hideyuki continued, “In the past, the category of robots was not used very much, but now they are used quite frequently.” He added, “Window cleaning robots are a special category in Japan.”
He explained, “Before importing the windowmate product, I conducted a market survey of 5,000 potential customers. I found that the respondents cleaned their windows once or twice a year on average. When I asked them what area they most wanted to clean, the number one answer was windows. There is a long-held tradition in Japan to clean one’s windows on Lunar New Year’s Day. Although many people now live in apartments, traditionally, they lived in houses and they would clean their windows, maybe not every day, but certainly often. Nowadays, with many apartment-like structures replacing houses, windows are not cleaned as often as they once were. The reasons of course are because it is quite laborious and difficult. But, if a robot were given that task…In Japan, cleaning one’s windows has been traditionally seen as an important part of our culture and there is the tradition of cleaning windows especially during the holiday season. In this context, the window cleaning robot is an especially attractive product for people who are intent on cleaning their windows.”
In Japan, CEO of RF Sharon (Soonbok) Lee spoke of her plans for expansion next year, saying “95% of our overseas sales is dependant on Japan. Starting from next year, we are planning to diversify our overseas market with sales to the US, Europe, and the Middle East. She continued, “We have been working hard to open up the US market, and I think there may be some good news at CES next year. We are also hard at work in opening up the Europe and Middle East markets. The Middle East are particularly interested in our product because of their dust storms. Our products can be seen as being singularly suited for their intense dust storms.” She added that she was confident of the company’s increased growth next year.
▲ A popular version of windowmate will be showcased by RF’s Japanese partner on January 24, 2018 at their new product presentation.
RF’s continued growth has exceeded expectations. With sales of about 700 to 800 million won last year, the company anticipates that sales will exceed 400 billion won – a growth of 400 to 500% – by the end of this year. Due to strong sales in Japan, the company expects sales there to increase by 400 to 500%, to 15 billion won next year. The company is preparing to diversify its products list. In addition to windowmate, RF is working jointly with Seoul National University to develop a glass building cleaning robot for large buildings, which is in plans to be commercialized next year. For her tireless efforts, RF’s CEO Sharon (Soonbok) Lee was awarded the Ministry of Science and ICT Minister Award in December, as well as the Korea Robot Award, Ministry of Trade Industry and Energy Minister Award.