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May 2013

The Real Impact Of Robotics

For many years there has been a stigma surrounding the use of industrial robots within manufacturing. A widely held perception is that robots are aimed solely at labor-reduction, contributing to US unemployment.

This is not the case.

To put it simply, robots are tools to support an existing workforce. Broadly speaking, industrial robots are an opportunity for companies to improve quality, productivity and comply with health & safety. They help humans to carry out tasks at a standard that they couldn’t achieve by hand. A recent example, Okabashi Brands, a US shoemaker, demonstrates how they have remained competitive by investing in an automated system alongside its growing domestic workforce.

In addition to the practical benefits of robots, a study by the International Robotics Federation (IFR) predicts that robots will create more than two million jobs over the next decade.

This is a ratio of three to five roles created for every robot in service. And as the use of industrial robots accelerates, productivity will increase, facilitating greater economic return and re-investment potential.

But what kind of short-term benefit should we expect from industrial robots?

Robots provide consistency and repeatability, two fundamental requirements of advanced industries such as pharmaceutical, medical device and biotech.

In addition, bio-pharma products are becoming too small for an employee to handle precisely, especially in hyper-clean conditions.

Productivity is a major advantage. Robots do not tire, physically or mentally. This means that they can work on a task through the night while workers rest, thus increasing industrial throughput. Robots won’t get up and walk out on you because they’ve had enough of the complicated process that they have been programmed to repeat in large volumes. This reduces labor turnover, a cost that can be avoided with the correct equipment.

Health & Safety is a serious issue. Robots significantly reduces the health risk for employees that carry out dangerous processes.

This is particularly acute with the life science environment, with workers potentially at risk from fumes, toxins and sharp objects. Repetitive tasks can lead to injuries.

Robots can take the strain…

To summarise, industrial robots transform the way we do work as humans. They provide a competitive advantage to those who are the first to invest in the most advanced robot to support its workforce. In competitive 21st century industries companies that innovate enjoy market growth and those who fear change fall behind. The only way to move forward is to embrace new technology.

To learn more about how automation can improve your productivity, please contact us.