Rumors have it say that robots, or the automation, will replace human workers soon in manufacturing. However, that does not seem to happen in the near future.
Panelists at the recent FABTECH expo discussed the concerns in response to the overgrowing worries. Regarding the discourse, the panelists were in agreement that automation is necessary. Even so, it does not equal to people losing jobs.
“There is this big trend that has surged toward automation, particularly with robotics, and it’s really stimulated the conversation that robots are coming to take your job,” said panel moderator Jay Douglass, CEO of Advanced Robotics for Automation.
During the discussion, several essential points were pertaining to the use of robotic assistance to perform risky tasks. Especially in manufacturing, where work accidents oftentimes occur, automation at certain areas will be necessary.
Furthermore, automation will contribute to solving the labor shortage companies often face. That said, panelists agreed that automation will never completely replace humans in the workforce.
“There is this common opinion that robots and automation are here to take jobs. There’s no doubt there will be work that human beings aren’t doing anymore,” Vizek, project innovation engineer at MxD, said. “But we have to start looking at it from our perspective that it’s not the job. Because when we think ‘job’ we consider a job is for a person. But it’s the tasks that make up that job that are actually going to be the areas in which automation moves forward.”
In Manufacturing, Robots Act as a Co-worker
Further discussion shifts the argumentation that robots will act as a co-worker in manufacturing. CEO of Aris Technology Mingu Kang explained that some manufacturers are trying out to make robots as a ‘cobot.’
“I see many manufacturers who decided to test or research and use cobots because they don’t want to replace jobs or they may be unionized, or they have different reasons why they want to try out robotics where a human worker can be right next to the robot,” he said.
However, Vizek predicted that, by 2025, approximately 2.5 million people currently working in manufacturing will have to retire. The cause is not due to automation alone, but it will be because of tight labor competition.
“So when you consider robotics or AI as a labor multiplier, you’re now allowing people to do what they’re good at. But you are still taking advantage of the work that needs to be done with the systems and technology that can do that. Instead of replacing jobs, we are moving people to do things they’re good at, and then filling the shortage where we can with robotics.”
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