In the Netherlands, the Philips Electronics factory has implemented the use of 128 robot arms to replace human workers in the assembly of electric razors. These robots are performing tasks like placing wires in holes “almost too small for the human eye to see”. Philips isn’t the only company using robots on their production lines; robots have been being used for years specifically in the automobile industry. But the use robotic technology is rapidly increasing and improving. While many people would make the argument that these robots are forcing humans out of work and causing unemployment to spike, the truth is that the use of robots may actually help the economy by speeding up manufacturing in the United States enabling competition with industrialized giants like China.
Robots are so adept that they are expected to be able to make any consumer device in the world. Advances in robotics technology have made these robots almost human-like in their dexterity and vision. Some robots are even using technology to see and adapt to changes on conveyor belts that result from error. This is an advantage today because, as technology improves, so does consumer demands for bigger and better products. As these products get more sophisticated, there comes a point where humans can no longer perform such tasks in the most cost effective ways. Here is a video showing how robots are changing manufacturing in several ways.
Another benefit that can come as a result of the use of robotics in manufacturing is the placement of human workers in higher skilled jobs. Instead of training people for entry-level jobs, employers can utilize these workers in new, more efficient ways where they can be more successful.
I believe that the use of robots to do entry-level jobs is a great asset for companies. They eliminate the risk of injury, reduce human error, and save time training workers. Felicia Greene states that robots are performing high quality tasks without the error and hazards humans face. In today’s economy the argument about jobs is ever present, but as robots continue working in factory production and distribution, people can be used in new skilled jobs arising robotic technology.
Automation cannot completely eliminate manual labor – people are still needed to make, run, and train these machines. But, the time has come when companies cannot turn a blind eye to robotics any longer, out of fear of job loss. If they do, they will not be able to increase productivity that other companies gain from using robots. In turn, they will lose their market to more efficient competitors.
In the article, Gary Bradski, founder of Industrial Perception, says, “We’re on the cusp of changing manufacturing and distribution.” He went even further to say that the impact this can have may be as big as the impact the Internet has made on the world. I agree with Mr. Bradski and believe that the overall effect robotic technology is going to have will change the way the entire world does business.