Collaborative robots (cobots) – taking or creating jobs?

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Whether robots are taking or creating jobs has not been a new topic for some time now when it comes to the impact of automation on the workforce. The level of all sizes business automation is increasing today, the integration of robots in production processes being the optimal step for companies that want to flourish and remain competitive in the industry in which they operate. But as the number of robots and automated technologies integrated increases, what happens to human employees? Are they out of work? According to a report by the World Economic Forum, by 2020, robots will create 58 million more jobs than they will displace.

The development of robotics will lead to the loss of 75 million jobs, but at the same time will create 133 million new jobs related to the activity of robots. Basically, human employees will collaborate in the working processes with robots, taking over newly created tasks generated by their implementation, for which they are more suitable.

Automation of production processes is and will be more and more a key factor in increasing productivity in the future. Companies that aim to grow and become competitive will integrate robots to make more efficient and optimize their operations. Hence, the perfectly legitimate question of what will happen to the people who handle those tasks that will be taken over by the robots. Process automation does not mean dismissing employees. There are technologies, such as collaborative robots from Universal Robots that are ideal for working with humans, being designed exactly for this purpose. The presence of humans will still be needed to supervise the robots, to program them or to complete their work processes. New jobs will be created that will bring more satisfaction to human employees and generate more added value, while repetitive and tedious tasks will be taken over by robots, says Răzvan Isac, Channel Development Manager, Universal Robots.

Robots are more efficient when the objectives of a business are to increase the volume of production, increase product quality, reduce production time or to make production more flexible. However, during the work processes there are stages that require critical thinking, creativity or the problem solver ability. And robots do not have such skills. People are the ones who score at these chapters and their presence will certainly be needed from now on regardless of the automation degree of a business. Therefore, in assessing automation solutions, companies place great importance to the safety factor. The human employee needs to collaborate with the robot without being exposed to the risk of accidents. Safety cages are often used to avoid injuries, but they involve reduced flexibility of the automation solution, a large space occupied by the robot and the difficulty of certain work processes. This is not the case with the collaborative arms from Universal Robots. UR cobotss are small, light and accessible and can work side by side safely with human employees supporting them in the most complex tasks. They do not require cages, are easy to implement and occupy a small area in the spaces where they operate.

The integration of robots in production areas has a real potential to grow the employment rate. Because with the processes automation, productivity will increase and there will rise opportunities to expand operations / production lines that will require new workforce, such as material handlers or personnel for inventory and planning. At the same time, robots will need staff to handle their maintenance, integration and programming, or analyze the data they generate. Thus, there will be training programs for employees to improve their skills or acquire new ones that will help them manage robots or take on more satisfying tasks. Following that their old repetitive, tedious and dangerous tasks to be taken over by robots.

We are talking about a collaborative future in which humans and robots work together. UR collaborative robots can be easily deployed, without requiring special programming skills, to support employees in activities such as assembling components, as cobots installed at the Ford plant in Craiova do, packaging and palletizing goods or many more others that they perform in companies around the world. Their programming, depending on the complexity of the task carried out, can take even to a less experienced member of the team only a few hours. They are the optimal solution to work along human employees and to generate an important competitive advantage and a faster growth for businesses that want to automate.

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