Robotics and Job Security

December 19, 2016

The manufacturing industry faces a challenge, and it's not coming from overseas. Quite simply, there aren't enough skilled workers in the U.S., and the problem is going to get worse over the next 10 years. A recent report from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute projects 2 million unfilled jobs in manufacturing. That will crimp output and increase the need for imports. It's going to limit economic growth too because, as the Deloitte report points out, “Every job created in manufacturing creates another 2.5 new jobs in local goods and services.”

Manufacturers have two choices: do nothing or invest in creating more capacity. One way to increase capacity is by deploying manufacturing robots. Contrary to myth (learn how we bust four robotic myths here), robots create jobs in America.

Here's how: Improved Quality Robots reduce part-to-part quality variation, so customers receive more uniform product. Paint spraying is one example where the robot is more consistent than humans, no matter how good they are. Fewer parts are scrapped and material and process yields are higher. When customers are satisfied, they come back for more. Jobs People Can't Do Robots actually enable the development of new products. Robots can perform assembly tasks too intricate for human eyes and fingers. They can reach into spaces inaccessible for humans. Using welding as an example, robots can weld joints in locations that would be otherwise impossible for humans to reach. Undesirable Jobs Robots work without complaint in noisy, dirty and dangerous environments. Take foundries: pouring metal and unloading diecasting machines is hot and unpleasant work. Jobs like these often suffer high turnover — and as skills shortages grow, it's going to become harder to fill them. Implementing robotic automation prevents labor shortages from limiting output. Fill Skills Gaps Letting robots take on repetitive tasks frees employees for more interesting and engaging work. People are natural problem solvers, so train the welder to be the welding robot support specialist who solves problems, creates new part programs, and works with design on next generation products. This retains hard-won familiarity with products, customers and processes within the business while improving job satisfaction. Increase Flexibility A report from consulting organization McKinsey Global Institute notes the trend toward greater product variety. That means shorter production runs and more frequent changeovers, demanding greater flexibility from manufacturing lines. It's not enough to invest in automation, robotics is the way to handle this. Why? Seems we need a little more info here. Building for the Future Robots address skills shortages, increase capacity, improve quality, enable new products and create better jobs for people. For manufacturing workers, robots ensure job security by giving businesses room to grow and prosper.

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