Manufacturing productivity in the US is continuing to climb as a result of more robots being more accessible, flexible, and simple to program, especially for small- to medium-sized businesses. Robots are frequently employed to carry out dangerous, unpleasant, and boring activities, but they also help to supplement human labor, streamline processes, and improve product quality for a competitive advantage. According to 56% of respondents in a recent manufacturing poll by The Boston Consulting Group, American-made items are now more competitive than comparable products imported from low-cost nations because of decreased automation costs. More than a quarter of the manufacturers questioned forecast a job gain of at least 10%, and even though they were investing in automation, they anticipated seeing an increase in employment of at least 5% over the following five years.
Over the next ten years, robotics is expected to have a considerable increase in performance and price thanks to the integration of artificial intelligence and other advancements (such as better machine vision, sensors, etc.). A key topic is if and how robotics will affect production processes as a possibly new general-purpose technology, particularly in globally traded industries like manufacturing. The most recent significant technological revolution, which was mostly driven by information technology, was decentralized in character, allowing for the geographical dispersal of distant supply chains to the periphery in search of inexpensive labor.
The industrial sector has embraced new technologies and created new opportunities for employees for more than 200 years. As a result of the rapid transformation of the workplace brought about by technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT), the sector is currently undergoing exciting and exponential change. Contrary to what some people believe, more employment is actually being created as a result of these new technologies.
In fact, since mid-2017, job opportunities have been increasing at double-digit rates and are getting close to the previous high point, which was in 2001. Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute released their fourth skills gap assessment in this fast-paced manufacturing environment to reassess their previous predictions and further the dialogue on the current hiring landscape and the future of manufacturing work. The findings seem to point to a growing divide between the number of open positions and the pool of qualified candidates who can fill them.
Too often, the domestic jobs that are created by automation are minimized in favor of catastrophizing the types of positions that are eliminated. These speculative claims have two fundamental issues. First, they are exactly that: unsupported by any historical study and based on scant evidence. Many estimates of exponential growth, including the McKinsey estimate, also extrapolate to overall rates of technological innovation and productivity growth rates by using adoption rates of specific technology, such as mobile phones. Furthermore, there is no proof that society is advancing technology at a rate ten times quicker today than it was two centuries ago, much less at all. All of these are predicated on how quickly technologies like mobile phones and the Internet are adopted.
Additional research also shows no sign of a job loss. Dauth, Findeisen, Suedekum, and Woessner examined the impact of industrial robot adoption on employment in German labor markets between 1994 and 2014 and discovered that it had no impact on overall employment in local labor markets with a focus on high robot usage. Gregory, Salomons, and Zierahn examined the effects of technology-based automation on employment in Europe and discovered that while it does eliminate some jobs, "it has simultaneously created new jobs through increased product demand, outweighing displacement effects and resulting in net employment growth." As previously mentioned, Koch, Manuylov, and Smolka discovered that the use of robots in Spanish manufacturing companies has resulted in a net job growth of roughly 10%.
The increased use of cobots is enabling the redeployment of current workers to other duties that add value as well as the creation of new jobs for both current and recently hired people. Below are some examples of jobs that deployment of collaborative robots are creating around the country.
The main responsibility of this position could be to program new robot jobs. In order to build, test, and make adjustments to a robot program or task before it is put into use on the factory floor, it frequently involves employing offline robot simulation and programming tools. A robot programmer should be up to date on the most recent manufacturing standards that could affect programming and be ready to assist with robot (or workcell) design, assembly, and maintenance as needed.
Robot / Workcell Operator
Robots help the workforce in a variety of ways, relieving employees of the monotonous, hazardous, and dirty activities they must undertake every day. A successful operation can be maintained by reassigning manual workers to tasks like part loading and unloading, part quality inspection, and monitoring and reloading consumables. In the event of a crash, these people can also aid jog and reset a robot, saving time from having to call the robot programmer.
Companies with a large number of robots may decide to keep an in-house maintenance expert who can construct, wire, and test robotic systems as necessary to maintain operations. By doing this, service agreements and visits from robot integrators or manufacturers will be reduced.
This is a more difficult position that requires someone to be fully responsible for any robotic operations that are currently taking place on the shop floor. They must ensure that all robots and workcells are fully utilized and successful, which includes implementation, maintenance, programming, and operator training. A person in this job should also be entrusted with looking for additional parts to automate in order to provide the optimum ROI.
A worker who specializes in the design and production of specialized tools may be needed if automation becomes more widely adopted. Given a qualified engineer who can help manage the design phase, this form of tooling may be more financially viable in the long term, despite having higher starting expenses.
The ideal candidate for this position is highly analytical, and they are in charge of making sure that the greatest products are produced in the most effective way. This position is best suited for settings where there has been a significant increase in automation and where all machines must cooperate.
The list of new occupations that have been established is endless, but a few others that stand out include the logistics manager, operations manager, sales manager or representative, product technician (depending on product line), purchasing manager or representative, and safety manager.
Leaders and employees alike must embrace a new workplace as the Fourth Industrial Revolution and digital transformation reshape manufacturing roles. In order to achieve the highest degree of productivity, cutting-edge technology and digital abilities must coexist with aptitudes that are distinctively human. The industry as a whole may better prepare for a future that promises to be revolutionary by understanding how work may evolve. If you’re curious about collaborative robots and want to familiarize yourself with how they work and what they can do, stop by one of our Collaborative Robot Open Houses to test them out for yourself. We welcome you to bring any parts that you would like the cobots to handle and see its skill in doing so. You can even let us know in advance what kind of demonstration you would like and we will set it up for viewing at no charge during this open house. Contact us today or register for our free demo day in Hatfield, PA, here.
Sources: https://www.roboticsbusinessreview.com/rbr/what-are-the-jobs-robots-create/; https://www.universal-robots.com/blog/robots-create-jobs/; https://itif.org/publications/2019/10/15/robotics-and-future-production-and-work/ ; https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/manufacturing/articles/future-of-manufacturing-skills-gap-study.html; https://itif.org/publications/2019/10/15/robotics-...