Automation in manufacturing continues to grow and redefine the shop floor. Evolving at an ever-increasing pace, robotics, and automation, by some predictions, will assume 30% of the tasks in 60% of the industrial occupations over the next few decades. And with all the benefits of automation—including higher production, fewer errors, and increased safety—it’s not surprising that automation will handle more of the tasks previously assigned to human workers.
Automation helps streamline processes, eliminate some or all human intervention, and reduce mistakes. It allows for completing a designated task efficiently, accurately, and consistently.
Automation and robotics use specialized equipment to perform defined physical tasks, like packing products in boxes or spot welding metal frames. Sometimes we hear “automation” and think “robot.” With a range of payload and reach capacities, easy programming, articulated joints, and high speed, robots are a clear choice for applications requiring precise movements and repeatability. It’s no wonder they’re becoming more and more popular among manufacturers of all sizes, especially smaller, user-friendly collaborative robots.
Companies always approach capital expenditures with great care, but especially now as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. While we think this is actually a good time to invest in automation, we understand it might feel risky in this time of uncertainty and changing markets.
Collaborative robots are a major trend in the automation market, projected to grow by over 40 percent to $7,972 million by 2026. Does that make them the right automation solution for your business? Here are the things we urge manufacturers and industrial automation users to think about.
Robots are not new technology. However, they are showing up in new places all the time such as smaller manufacturing and machine shops, medical settings, warehouses for packaging and order picking, and maybe even your local coffee shop!
In Part 1, we looked at ways automation changes the tasks and work at a manufacturing facility. In this post, we'll discuss the human side.
Robotics and automation affect workplace culture in terms of how work is done but also how employees view their work and their value to the company. Most will be accepting of new equipment and procedures, some sooner and some later. If morale and workplace culture are positive, the changes go more smoothly.
We think it’s worth putting some thought into how you introduce, train, and incorporate automation into your organization. Morale is highest when workers feel their concerns are heard, that they’re valued, and that the company wants them to succeed. After all, you can always replace or upgrade machines, but your employees are the heart of your business.
Here are three things to keep in mind when automation equipment and people mix in the workplace:
Across industries, workplace culture is a hot topic. The culture at your own workplace might be “I know it when I see it” - hard to describe in specific terms but noticeable when it changes. Some ways to think of workplace culture are:
- What it feels like to work somewhere
- How the work environment affects each person’s ability to get their work done
- The general organization of people and tasks
- Employees’ camaraderie and sense of community or support
Automation drives cultural changes in all aspects of work. In this post, we’ll talk about how automation affects culture in terms of the work that’s done: tasks and efficiencies as well as the overall approach to manufacturing. In part 2 of this blog, we look at how automation affects the human side of culture.
Collaborative robots, or cobots, have been growing in popularity among manufacturing and industrial companies looking to improve quality, reduce tedium for workers, and gain efficiencies. According to Design News, “collaborative robots are expected to maintain a double-digit growth rate in terms of both revenue and shipments... Growth for all other types of industrial robots is either negative or flat.” And while all robots will likely experience growth as we move into 2021 and beyond, we expect cobots to continue their strong trend.
If you’ve ever had the fleeting thought that robots in factories, homes, and even amusement parks will suddenly go berserk and attack or take over the world, you’re not alone. Movies, television, and literature are full of humanoid and mobile robotic machines that eventually turn on the people they’re supposed to be helping. From science fiction writer Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics to the very real implications of AI and machine learning technology, there has always been an undercurrent of mistrust when it comes to robotics.