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.
We've talked about how robots affect job security – one of the common concerns workers and managers express about automation and robotics in manufacturing. Here we’ll address three more reasons robots get a bad rap: safety, expense, and learning to work with advanced technology.
One of the challenges of planning a new welding automation project is visualizing the equipment layout. There are many configuration options from which to choose. What’s highly efficient in one facility might bog down production in another. It all comes down to your goals and the details of your manufacturing process.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you design your welding cell.
Robot technology is always evolving to take on new tasks and improve production and quality in manufacturing. Once only seen in the largest plants, industrial welding robots are becoming common in small- to medium-size facilities too.
In the last few years, there’s been discussion about welding with the latest iteration of robots: collaborative robots, or "cobots". In fact, last year’s FABTECH show included exhibits of mobile welding systems that can move around the shop to the point of need. Still other examples include cobot arms that can be outfitted with a welding torch, which can be swapped out for a gripper or other end-of-arm tool and redeployed for other tasks.
Electric resistance welding, commonly called spot welding, is an excellent candidate for automation and robotics. It’s common in automotive and vehicle assembly for frames and body components, where the average vehicle can contain thousands of welds.
As automation and robotic technology continue to evolve, spot welding can be done in ever-smaller physical spaces, integrated with other parts of the assembly process, and in proximity to human operators. The result is consistent, repeatable welding output in less time and with high levels of quality.
We can all agree the current COVID-19 global pandemic and the economic, employment, and social upheaval it’s causing is disastrous. So much is uncertain from day to day and it seems the outlook for health and business changes with each new news story. Business leaders might instinctively decide to table many of their plans and focus on maintaining the status quo for the foreseeable future.