Oct. 27, 2021


Bernat Bonnin

Spain

Bernat Bonnin

President, ROBOT

“We have been working to identify partners in the Middle East, having reached an agreement to expand our business to Qatar, and we have also had some contacts in Dubai.”

BIO

Bernat Bonnin Pons-Estel was born in Palma de Mallorca 62 years ago. In 1986 he joined Robot, S.A., a small company founded in 1983 and dedicated to manufacturing and installing building control systems. In 2000 Bernat took over the reins of the company as CEO and main shareholder, leading the R&D department that develops products for the automation of hotel rooms. In 2018, he leads the company in its incorporation in the BME Growth, being the first Balearic company to be listed on this market and the second Balearic company to be listed on the stock exchange, with the aim of obtaining financing to carry out an ambitious plan for international expansion and technological development.


Could you detail some of the highlights of the company's work in the field of digitalization and sustainability towards reaching your current leader market position?

ROBOT is a technology company specialized in building automation systems and inmotic and was established in Palma de Mallorca in 1983. The company had been engaged in sustainability-related projects for many years before the term became popular. It was established in response to the oil crises that stemmed from the Yom Kippur war of the 1970s. The price of oil increased dramatically, and subsequently increased with the advance of the Iranian revolution. In Mallorca, hotel chains were using oil as a raw material, the price of which surged dramatically. At ROBOT, we had started using technology and informatics to monitor hotel facilities to curb excess expenditure. Software was developed that led to savings of 30% on average. At the time, no hotel had automated their processes. Soon ROBOT started working with other business lines such as wine cellars, hospitals, and any other industry where energy consumption could be optimized digitally. The 1990s were yet another crucial moment for ROBOT as we shifted to the hotel sector, starting work in the Caribbean through the hotel chains of Mallorca-based companies that had established businesses in the region. These hotel chains developed projects in the Caribbean, and ROBOT became a partner in their journey. The hotel complexes in the Caribbean were huge, and required careful monitor of their expenses. These hotels normally operate year-round, which involves significant energy expense. In the 2000s, we began to work in the leisure area, including the acclimatization of recreational spaces. For rooms, we have systems to save energy depending on whether the space is occupied. We manage the air conditioning system, but also the mechanisms to control levels of humidity. ROBOT provides a comprehensive control of the building through our system. The company has always worked with its own designs for both equipment and systems, all manufactured at our facilities in Palma. We then install the system and provide maintenance services. Right now, we have offices in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. And earlier this year we opened another office in Malaysia both locally and as a springboard for Indonesia, Vietnam and South-East Asia.

How has ROBOT navigated the COVID19 pandemic, where the hospitality sector has been severely hit, and what is your assessment of the digitalization process of hotels since the pandemic?

During 2020 contact with hoteliers was very scarce, as facilities were mostly closed. However, we have noted hotels' needs to manage temperature, for example, and overall there has been greater attention to ensuring a safe environment. In that regard, ROBOT has developed products oriented toward those services, while creating solutions to promote hotels' transition towards sustainability as is the case of our newly developed systems to control CO2 emissions. Additionally, we have developed systems to improve the quality of the air that tourists breathe, as well as to measure energy and water consumption levels. Today, it is easy to identify those areas that are consuming the most in order to reduce expenses.

What factors have contributed to ROBOT winning the award for SME of the Year from the Chamber of Commerce of Mallorca?

In February 2018, ROBOT was listed on the Spanish stock exchange, under the BME Growth Market (formerly known as MAB). There are two companies from the Balearic Islands listed on the exchange. One of them is the hotel chain Meliá, and the other is ROBOT. Following this development, the private sector and government administrations started to pay greater attention to ROBOT and recognize the company's achievements, despite its relatively small size. Our strategy is to expand our operations by entering new markets, which is quite challenging considering that ROBOT is an SME. However, we are succeeding. Additionally, part of our ethos is to control what we manufacture to guarantee high standards, which is why our products are manufactured locally, having a higher spillover effect on the local economy. We have no intention to relocate our manufacturing facilities to Asia. With that in mind, we want to continue growing our business locally because we strongly believe that the Balearic Islands are a perfect location for innovation. It is important to generate a climate appealing to businesses from around the world, while streamlining bureaucracy to create an ecosystem conducive for businesses to thrive.

What are ROBOT's plans for expansion in terms of geography?

We have been working to identify partners in the Middle East, having reached an agreement to expand our business to Qatar, and we have also had some contacts in Dubai. There are many projects for buildings in which the design is not done there, but in London, for example. Thus, our visits to enter those markets are also in London, instead of Dubai. We have identified the most interesting markets for us, but we also believe that we need to strengthen our presence in those markets where we already operate, including Mexico and the Dominican Republic. At the end of the day, our resources are limited compared to those of a large corporation.

ADVERTISEMENT