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Robots in Manufacturing: Increasing Output and Changing Jobs
Automation is a touchy subject. In many circles, there’s a belief that machines are putting human workers out of jobs, leading to a version of a Skynet-esque future as explored in the Terminator franchise. As a result, there’s an element of resentment and apprehension towards robotics as people fear for their livelihoods and being replaced.
Unlike in Terminator, the robots aren’t here to take over (or to find John Connor). Robotic solutions are merely here to assist manufacturers take the next step in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Not only will they help companies improve processes and achieve their lofty objectives, but they’ll also aid human workers in the long run.
To separate fact from fiction, let’s take a look at how robots positively impact both businesses and individuals.
We’re living in tough economic times. Manufacturers are tightening their belts and trying to cut costs where they can – but they also need to increase their output. The only way to achieve this is by optimising processes and operations.
Since human beings are dynamic creatures, it’s practically impossible for their output to be consistent every day. They could fall ill, they may have less energy after a big lunch, they could have a personal matter on their mind, or they just could be bored of doing the same tedious and repetitive job day in and day out.
The reality is, industrial robots are better suited for tasks that require repetition. They offer quicker speeds and turnaround times than a human worker, while being precise and fully attentive to the function at hand. This allows businesses to accurately predict, measure and adjust outputs, depending on the operational requirements.
The notion that technology destroys jobs is mostly inaccurate. Look at Uber as an example and by-product of smartphone technology. Some drivers might’ve been taxi drivers before, but the app created an opportunity for others to gain an income – both part-time and full-time.
The world of manufacturing operates in the same way. The industry hasn’t shrunk at all. In July 2018, U.S. manufacturing jobs grew at the fastest pace in a 12-month period since 1995, adding 327,000 jobs.
While vacancies for pickers and packers may lessen, newer job transitions have been created. The previous packer at a factory might now be a supervisor because robots can’t perform higher-value tasks such as problem-solving, reasoning or process development. These functions require something that robots will never have (unless Skynet gets its wish): a human mind.
With automation increasing productivity, it benefits both workers and the business in the long term. Businesses increase output and become reliable, which translates into higher profit margins, while workers have the opportunity to be upskilled and deployed to new positions. It’s a symbiotic relationship that produces a happier and more productive cosystem. And none of this would be possible without technology.
Whether you like it or not, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is here to stay. Change is a scary prospect, but it’s even more frightening to stay stagnant and witness your competitors overtake you. No one wants to say hasta la vista here, and you don’t have to. Automation isn’t a threat – it’s an enabler.
Through years of technical progress and experience, Yaskawa MOTOMAN has developed the expertise to become a worldwide and world-class leader in industrial robotics and automation. We understand industry requirements and our wide range of flexible robotic solutions can be customised to align with your business requirements.
More importantly, we believe in the after-sales experience, where we will be on hand to provide the necessary training and support, empowering you with the right knowledge and skills to harness the full potential of your robotic solution. If you’d like to discuss how we can add value to your business through the use of robotics, please contact us for more info.