We’ve seen a gradual increased presence of robots on manufacturing factory floors, and industries that have embraced automation have seen an increase in efficiency and productivity. There is a key concern amongst employees that the rise of robots will ensure the human worker extinct. This concern is mostly unfounded and is a result of the human condition, fear of change.
More recently, new ways of thinking have gained traction; rather than make their human counterparts redundant, the manufacturing robots of the future will work collaboratively alongside them. This future can be witnessed with the introduction of collaborative robots, commonly known as “cobots”, robots invented to complement human workers, operating in almost any environment. While we excel at complex thinking and problem-solving, robots are proficient at bringing accuracy to repetitive, and sometime unsafe, time-sensitive tasks.
What if robots do all the heavy-lifting and monotonous error-prone tasks, and employees are able to focus on more challenging and meaningful work. What if production lines were able to flow unsupervised with minimal error? The workforce of the future sees robots working collaboratively with employees to complement their work, improve efficiency and increase productivity.
Small, lightweight, and designed to operate safely for close human operation, cobots are an ideal entry point for many businesses looking to embrace robotics with simplified programming and an affordable cost entry point. Cobots can be adapted to integrate into existing processes to execute tasks with relative ease. Cobots are a world away from their industrial robot counterparts and well suited to SMEs. Around the world these collaborative robots are widely integrated and viewed simply as tools that coexist alongside human employees – allowing them to be more efficient.
Future automation across all areas of manufacturing is inevitable, however with increasing development of cobots, there is no danger in them taking over completely as they need human intervention for connectivity and programming, for example, to carry out their purpose. Obviously, in the future there’s no doubt that many tasks that we do today will be taken over by cobots, but for an industry that suffers from skills shortages like manufacturing and the ongoing rise in UK wages, this may be a positive move.
With the introduction of robotics, human employees are able take on roles that often require creative and critical thinking, even be involved in the programming and maintenance of the process. By having cobots complete dirty, dull, and dangerous tasks, businesses can better use their human workers to help grow their company by developing new products and processes.
The use of cobots in the factory therefore also presents a huge opportunity to upskill entire workforces and takes away the pressure on production lines that may be suffering from skills shortages. However, with additional resources required to programme and maintain cobot systems, looking to the future, manufacturers must provide employees with the automation skills and technical tools required to succeed.
Guest Blog by Gary Livingstone, Managing Director, LG Motion.
Contact: LG Motion
Call: 01256 365600
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