Focus on JCM Global: ICB ASAP introduces robots to the count room Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports · September 17, 2021 at 8:00 am Robots have long been a part of pop culture, from Isaac Asimov’s science fiction novels to the Blade Runner and Terminator movies. Robotics also are an increasingly integral part of the automobile industry, and at companies such as Walmart and Amazon. The gaming industry could be next, with JCM Global’s ICB ASAP revolutionizing the way casino count rooms operate. An acronym for Intelligent Cash Box with Automated Secure Asset Processing, ICB ASAP features four robots performing repetitive tasks that are necessary but physically demanding for humans. According to Dave Kubajak, JCM Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing, and Operations, the new technology originated from discussions during product management sessions. “We talked about some of the challenge areas in casinos that really could benefit from this robotics automation,” Kubajak says, “and one area that we kept coming back to was the count room.” Count rooms are the financial backbones of any casino, where cash generated from slot machines, retail shops or any other sell point is gathered. They are usually safe, secure areas, with as many as 30 to 40 people counting and processing bills of all denominations. Because the work involves handling and opening cash boxes, and loading high-speed counting machines, “the amount of manual labor involved to do this is just crazy,” Kubajak says. “The grind that humans face processing and doing these repetitive tasks really is suited very well for robotics.” The JCM team studied surveillance footage of count rooms and created the blueprint for ICB ASAP. Each of the four robots have assigned tasks and cannot be substituted for each other. But what if the robots break down? While mechanical malfunctions are theoretically possible, JCM’s system features industrial grade robotics used in manufacturing spot welding or lifting heavy pieces of equipment. They are designed to run 24 hours a day without downtime. “Our current belief is the robots, as they’re designed based on their duty cycle, will last in a casino environment 15 to 20 years,” Kubajak says. There are four areas in which the four robots developed for ICB ASAP can help improve production: Reducing human contact Enhanced security Improved throughput Increased reliability Kubajak says the need for social distancing, unfortunately caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerated the development of ICB ASAP. “Everybody is much more aware of the need for social distancing, and when you’re in a count room, space is at a premium,” he says. “Traditionally casinos have tried to put in as many labor resources as they can into a smaller room as possible for security purposes. That is not a good environment during a global pandemic.” Security is enhanced just by the decreasing of humans involved in the count room, and opportunities “to commit some kind of nefarious act” are diminished, Kubajak says, although larceny and theft are not totally eliminated. “You still have to have humans doing the finance, the accounting, and the reconciliation,” he adds. Throughput, the speed at which cash is processed, naturally increases with ICB ASAP, given that robots are inherently faster than humans. A human can process between 1,000 and 1,400 notes (or bills) per minute through high-speed counters. A robot can process approximately 4,000 notes per minute. That translates to 240,000 notes per hour, double the 120,000 that human teams can process. The durability of the robots, and the fact that they don’t get sick or suffer injuries and don’t take lunch breaks, makes them inherently more reliable than their human counterparts. Robots are often viewed as taking jobs away from workers. But Kubajak explains that while the ICB ASAP system will reduce the number of employees in count rooms, those personnel can be reassigned to other, less strenuous work. “A lot of the operators told us was they were looking forward to taking those people who were doing repetitive non-customer facing tasks and shifting them into more customer facing tasks,” Kubajak says. “Instead of them just doing these mind-numbing repetitive motions over and over, those people have the opportunity to be in front of a customer and interact with the customer, to provide and enhance a better experience for that customer.” Because of confidentiality clauses, Kubajak is barred from discussing potential clients. He did admit that JCM is in discussion with three corporate groups, with the possibility of implementing the ICB ASAP system as early as next year.