More and more often, collaborative robots are being used in companies. Before cobot integration, however, many people are worried that cobots will take their jobs away. If you look more closely, automation with cobots adds value to human work. In some circumstances, it even creates new jobs.
In the last decade, the number of installed industrial robots in Switzerland has risen sharply. Nevertheless, the robot density of about 160 robots per 10,000 employees is only half as high as in Germany. Because of this development, many people fear that their jobs are in danger. However, if we look in practice, this concern is debunked.
Work is enhanced by cobots
A survey by Institut für Arbeitsmarkt – und Berufsforschung (IAB) concludes that jobs are not necessarily lost through the integration of new technologies. The authors emphasize that the focus is shifting. As the degree of automation increases, jobs with low added value and monotonous tasks decline, while new jobs with more demanding tasks are created.
The institute’s experts go on to explain that these developments have always existed. Since the 1970s, the degree of automation has steadily increased and yet no jobs have been lost. Jobs that have been eliminated have been rebuilt elsewhere. So we see that an increase in robot density is changing work and creating new jobs.
This is also supported with labor market figures from the U.S. by International Federation of Robotics (IFR): The number of installed robotic units increased by 65% to 2.4 million between 2013 and 2018, while the number of jobs in the automotive industry grew by 22%, it said. Since the automotive industry is the most automated sector, this development is all the more remarkable, he said.
Collaborative robots make it easier for employees to do their jobs by helping them. In other words, they complement human labor, not replace it. Cobots take over unattractive and simple tasks. Human labor is thus assigned to more attractive activities with higher added value.
Productivity is increased by robots
New jobs are also created by the increase in productivity in companies that automate their production or parts of it. With collaborative robots, you can make processes more efficient and produce more in the same amount of time. Cobots can work 24/7 and in this way help companies fully utilize production capacity.
Another point is the savings that can be made by optimizing processes. Since cobots work very precisely, reject rates are reduced, thus increasing product quality.
By combining efficiency and productivity gains, companies remain competitive and there is potential for growth. Small and medium-sized companies in particular have to assert themselves on the market more strongly than their large competitors. Therefore, these factors are particularly important for these smaller and medium-sized companies. Thanks to their high profitability and ease of use, cobots are affordable even for SMEs.
The universities of Bayreuth and Aarhus demonstrated these benefits in a long-term study. Between 1990 and 2016, the study team interviewed 1,900 Spanish manufacturing companies every year on topics such as production costs and processes, prices and employment. The data clearly show that companies that pushed ahead with automating their production hired more employees, increased throughput and reduced labor costs while maintaining the same average wage. If companies did not use robots, the picture was the opposite. The researchers attributed this in part to competitive disadvantages due to a lack of automation.
But it is not only the company that benefits from increased productivity. Other companies along the value chain or associated services also benefit. This is because the higher output increases demand for goods and services at these companies. Thanks to this effect, new jobs can also be created here in the long term.
Robots help with shortage of skilled workers
Cobots help companies grow by counteracting the shortage of skilled workers. The shortage of skilled workers is also a problem in Switzerland. Particularly in engineering, technical professions and pharmaceuticals, the shortage of skilled workers remains high. The lack of qualified workers is seen by many companies as the greatest business risk. It is therefore an urgent problem for which solutions are desperately sought.
Cobots can be a solution to the shortage of skilled workers in industry. Collaborating robots help in electrical installation and assembly, plastics processing, machining, mechanical engineering and welding. Cobots take over many manual tasks that occur in these fields of work. These include, for example, dispensing, assembly processes, deburring but also welding. Automation by collaborative robots relieves employees, who can then perform more demanding work. It is precisely these routine tasks that can be easily automated with cobots.
If the shortage of skilled workers in your company can be countered with cobots, then you will benefit in the long term and can continue to grow. In addition, existing jobs are secured and more are created.
A cobot continuously feeds a machine at Endutec
Robots bring production back inland
With the impact of the pandemic and governmental trade disputes on supply chains, it is apparent that it is more profitable for many companies to bring parts of the value chain back domestically. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the international interconnectedness of supply chains can be a competitive disadvantage. In many cases, routes were blocked, transit stalled and shipments failed to arrive. These uncertainties can be reduced if upstream production steps are brought back domestically.
Collaborative robots play a major role in this. They make production in high-wage countries profitable. It doesn’t matter whether a cobot tests plug connections or assembles components in Eastern Europe, Asia or Switzerland. In the end, it costs the manufacturer the same. Cobots help your company to shorten supply chains and thus secure your production. If production steps are relocated back, then additional jobs are created in the domestic market.
Cobots make you more flexible
You can make your production processes more flexible with collaborative robots from Universal Robots. They can be quickly reprogrammed for new processes and easily equipped with different grippers or sensors. Within a very short time, cobots can perform new tasks. That’s why, during the Corona crisis, some companies managed to change their production on the fly. They were then able to quickly produce masks or respirators instead of machine components.
With collaborative robots, companies can react flexibly to new demand situations and changing markets.