Robots and Cobots are transforming manufacturing as we know it. Much of the hype around this portrays AI & Robotics as a bad thing that takes jobs from humans but the reality is that Demand for android-employees has risen steadily in recent years and global patent numbers in robotics continue to grow year-on-year. So, what are the need-to-knows about the not so distant future of robotic colleagues?
Industrial robots are on the brink of transforming manufacturing. Demand for android-employees has risen steadily in recent years and global patent numbers in robotics continue to grow year-on-year. So, what do we need to know about the future with robotic colleagues?
Common Uses of Robotics in Manufacturing
The latest industrial robots take the replication of human intelligence to a new level. Traits such as memory and trainability are found in our android co-workers, closing the gap toward human workplace capability. They are often used to perform dangerous tasks that are unsuitable for human staffs. Robots are useful in situations that require high output and no errors.
From a digital viewpoint, a transformation in manufacturing involves a combination of the Internet of Things, cloud computing & cyber-physical systems, to name a few. Oracle’s Infrastructure as a Services (IaaS) offers an integrated approach to artificial intelligence and robotics to change the way robots function. Apps and mobile services are at the center of the manufacturing revolution known as ‘Industry 4.0’.
Role of Humans alongside Robots
This is already causing small and medium-sized manufacturers to compare the trade-offs between actual (human) employees and automated machines. In this on-going debate, many believe that competitiveness is achieved through reducing the cost of labor. It is assumed that this reduces the need for human employees. However, this is false. The rise in robotics is reshaping the role of humans in a manufacturing environment. Operators are learning more technical skills and are involved in critical decision-making. Human operators are better educated, better paid and are more productive than ever before.
Middle-skill occupations such as admin, sales & machine operative work have shrunk from accounting for 60% of jobs to 46% between 1979 and 2012. Reports suggest that 5.1 million jobs will be replaced by robots by 2020. However, job security also doesn’t seem to be a concern for many employees. A recent study of US workers by Randstad Employer Brand Research showed that 75% of workers do not fear their job will be replaced by a machine.
Perhaps their optimism is justified, given that ATMs were once seen as the thing that would eliminate bank tellers. In reality, between 1995 and 2010 the US went from having 100,000 to 400,000 ATMs, and the number of bank tellers also rose from 500,000 to 550,000. The number of ATMs increased by 300% and bank tellers grew by 10%. The banking sector placed more importance on human skills and banking became a relationship-based service industry.
Threat of Artificial Intelligence
We can speak all day about the role of humans alongside robots, but humans also have a responsibility to use robotics in a non-threatening way. Elon Musk, CEO of Telsa and SpaceX, has very recently joined with other CEO’s of artificial intelligence organizations to urge a ban on AI weapons. Many fear that if such technologies are used as weapons, they will cause untold destruction & will be impossible to contain.
Artificial Intelligence is no longer just a concept. It is leading many manufacturing processes for large multinationals and ambitious medium-sized enterprises. Conversations around AI no longer cover “what if” AI were in the workplace, but rather “what more” can we do to leverage this technology.
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