For the past few years, the media has painted a dismal picture of robotics and automation, claiming that robots are to blame for sweeping job losses. This makes for catchy headlines intended to attract readers. The reality is that using robotics to increase labor productivity leads to greater profits and growth. More growth means more capital deployed. More robots equal more jobs.
“The greatest threat to employment is not automation but an inability to remain competitive.“
An April 2017 study called “The Impact of Robots on Productivity, Employment and Jobs,” by the International Federation of Robotics, cited that the “greatest threat to employment is not automation but an inability to remain competitive.” It is likely that the companies most at risk for losing workers are those that become stagnant and can’t remain competitive in the marketplace. The companies remaining competitive and continuing to grow are actively seeking automation to make their operations more productive.
Doom and gloom surrounding automation is misguided in assuming new technologies only eliminate jobs. This fails to account for the additional
jobs created as a result of the emergence of entirely new industries. In May of 2017, Jeff Burnstein, President of the Robotic Industries Association, gave a presentation at the Kuka Robotics Annual System Partner Summit. Based on data collected from the Bureau of Labor and their own robotic shipment data, the Robotic Industries Association shows that as robot shipments
continue to rise, so do manufacturing jobs. Again, more robots equal more jobs
When you peer into a medical device assembly clean room, you typically see operated-attended work cells where devices are assembled by hand and moved from station to station. To decrease device costs and increase yield, the solution is automation. But, automation doesn’t necessarily mean a fully robotic manufacturing line with ultra-fast conveyors shuttling devices at lightning speed. Instead, an operation would be automated with a series of individual, tabletop-sized, mechanized tools with operators loading components to automate the critical processes down the line. By introducing individual workstations for adhesive dispensing, curing, cutting, trimming, crimping, forming, or any other number of actions, we can develop precise and repeatable individual work cells to reduce human error and increase productivity.
When you view the effect of automation over the years, you see that instead of leading to significant job loss as was predicted, using robotics to increase labor productivity actually caused an employment boom and the creation of entire new industries.
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