Balancing Robots and the Human Labor Force
Throughout history, there has always been some form of resistance every time humanity makes the step forward. It happened when the world switched from an Agrarian system to an industrial one, and it is now happening as the world switches to automation. As more manufacturers are turning to industrial robots for most of their operations, human laborers are feeling more left out every day, and this begs one question. Can automation accommodate skilled human labor? The following are some of the ways through which balance between the two can be struck.
Even before industrial robots became the standard, it used to take some form of training for a person to scale up at work. The same applies to the current workforce. For anyone to stand a chance and not get laid off, acquiring an indispensable skill is important. Since humans can’t keep up with robots, the best that can be done to integrate both is to train humans in new skills like robot management and repair since robots are still mechanical machines that run on programs created by humans.
They will require human involvement for them to work as they are intended to. An industrial painting robot arm, for instance, may be able to do the equivalent work of 10 people, but after a while, maintenance will be necessary, and since they are not programmed to repair themselves, human intervention will be needed.
Cobots are Collaborative Robots. These are special robots that are designed to work alongside human beings. Rather than replace humans, these were designed to bring the best out of human labor by assisting them with things that they lack, speed and accuracy, for instance. Unlike normal industrial robots, cobots are much smaller and look friendlier. They don’t make erratic movements and can share the same space in close proximity with human workers without any accidents happening as they run on highly advanced AI.
There are working systems around the world already, with the best example being CaliBurger, a fast-food chain that has incorporated cobots and humans in its service delivery. The robots flip the burgers while the human workers deal with orders and deliveries.
It is easy for people to pick up on unfounded theories and rumors and build misunderstandings out of that. One of the longest-running theories about the increased use of robots in day-to-day life is that these robots will rise up and revolt against humans one day. That may be common in movies, but it is not surprising that such fear plays out in real life. Mindsets like this can cause friction at work as some workers may be unwilling to work alongside robots out of fear and disdain.
However, this is something that can be smoothed out by proper education and the creation of awareness. The more people understand what industrial robots are all about, the easier it becomes for them to accept new changes that make collaborations much easier for all the parties involved.
Award Exemplary Work
Unlike robots, human beings work through motivation. They are driven by a goal, and in this case, that goal comes in the form of a salary at the end of the month. Maintaining this morale throughout the year can be hard, and it is not uncommon for workers to experience slumps at work. This can affect their output.
Therefore, if you run a manufacturing business that makes use of people and robots alike, make sure you reward exemplary work done by the people at all times to avoid situations where they start feeling unappreciated and undervalued. Ignoring such sentiments may look harmless at first, but with time, they pile up, and you may find yourself dealing with serious sabotage issues at work, which can be pretty costly for you in the long run.
Create Transition Programs
Unfortunately for people, robots will eventually take over most manufacturing space tasks, even the ones that have been recently created to accommodate human beings. We can create as many positions as many times as possible, but the pace of technological advancement far outpaces that ability. The best that can be done at the moment would be to create transitioning programs that prepare people for the eventuality that they’ll be out of jobs in the end. This is way better than springing the news to them out of the blue as that could have detrimental effects on both the people and the health of the job.
One area that holds the potential of surviving this automation onslaught is the customer care department. You can train your most skilled workers to take up new roles like dealing with customers, and although it would not address the bigger problem, it is much better than nothing.
Robots are a necessary existence; ignoring their importance will only serve to take humanity many steps backward. The pace of automating manufacturing is only going to speed up, and humans have to either adapt or be left on the wayside. Right now, what should take precedence is finding ways of bringing both worlds together for a working relationship that ensures no side lacks for anything. It may appear to be an impossible task on paper but if there’s willingness by all parties involved then anything can be done.