Old science-fiction movies and even Saturday cartoons (The Jetsons, anyone?) used to portend of a future where nearly everything was done by a robot. While the world hasn’t quite made the leap all the way there (yet), robots and artificial intelligence are definitely playing a bigger part in modern industry as well as ordinary day-to-day activity. With these advances, concern has arisen in some areas that robots will eventually eliminate jobs and work, leading to perpetual unemployment for wide swaths of the population. The reality, however, is that the opposite has proven to be reality.
While robots, cobots (the robot’s more human friendly sibling) and A.I. are becoming more sophisticated, all are a long way away from matching the logic, reasoning, creative thinking and general versatility of the human worker. As such, data and experience is showing that as these technologies become adopted, they are actually supporting a shift to more value-added and skill-rich level of work. In other words, the “mechanized workforce” is doing the repetitive, mundane work, and this is freeing up human resources to focus on higher level creativity, problem solving and technical execution. For example, cobots are now being deployed widely in CNC machining operations to load and unload materials and parts, actuate machines, and clean, de-burr and sand work in process. Not having to participate in these common tasks has allowed human operators and machinists time to program more setups, inspect and measure finished parts, and drive more efficiency in the production. This ultimately reduces operating costs that leads to business growth.
While the 21st century child may not yet have a robotic dog companion, the 21st century worker has a new assistant, and that is making the worker happier, safer and more productive!
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