The advent of industrial robots is changing the way manufacturing is being done. The debate rages about whether the impact is more positive or negative, of course. Proponents say that robots allow companies, especially small and mid-sized manufacturers, to stay competitive. Detractors worry that the same technologies can endanger employment opportunities for human beings. In reality, robotics is likely to have an overall positive effect on business and employment.
“Robots improve productivity when they are applied to tasks that they perform more efficiently and to a higher and more consistent level of quality than humans,” a recent positioning paper from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) said, adding that robotics supports manufacturing re-shoring efforts. “Currently, the greatest threat to employment is not automation but an inability to remain competitive.”
The introduction of industrial robotics is likely to enhance productivity in several ways (according to the IFR):
- As robotics increases productivity which increases demand and creates new job opportunities.
- Automation has a positive impact on wages, by driving workers to a more sophisticated range of skills.
- Robots augment and complement the workforce rather than replace it. Less than 10% of jobs can be fully automated.
- Robots improve quality, increase production, and improve workplace health and safety.
These are among the realities that are driving strong growth in the global industrial robotics market. A recent report from Marketsandmarkets estimates that the industry will enjoy double digit growth over the next several years. It’s notable that automotive and high-tech manufacturers are among the key industries that are applying robotics to their manufacturing.
“The main drivers for this growth are the adoption of automation to ensure quality production and meet market demand, and the growing demand from small- and medium-scale enterprises in developing countries,” the report said.
Take a look at the infographic below that sums up some of the key points in the research. How is your organization using or intending to use industrial robots in its manufacturing? Let us know in the comments section below.
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN