Recently, Len Calderone for ManufacturingTomorrow published a very thoughtful article outlining the capabilities of robots in the manufacturing, but not necessarily as replacements for human workers but to work alongside them or take over tedious or dangerous activities.  Here are some highlights from this article that you may not have thought of:

  • New and different jobs — While some jobs previously held by humans will be replaced by a robot, new jobs will be created. There will be a need to train employees to repair and care for the growing robotic workforce; plus the talent that will be required to exploit robotic technology.
  • More flexibility and adaptability — Many small and medium size companies do not believe that there is a need to add robots to the workforce, or they think that they are too expensive. These manufacturers will likely need robots that can perform small production runs, which require more frequent set-ups and re-programming so that they can adapt quickly for the production of new products or different versions of existing products.
  • Cleaner food handling
  • More reliable and safer palletizing
  • More consistent product painting with less waste
  • With a shortage of welders, labor costs increase, making the investment in robotic welders a better return on investment.
  • Gantry robot systems provide the advantage of large work areas and better positioning accuracy unconstrained by floor space
  • Driverless forklifts can work alongside employees, with accurate positioning
Driverless forklift
Driverless forklift

Read more by Len Calderone, ManufacturingTomorrow, 3/24/16

Robots: A New Kind of Manufacturing Workforce