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How Industrial Robotics Improve the Economy

Mark Colzani | 05 June 2013

There have been many discussions regarding Americans losing jobs to overseas manufacturers and to increased use of robotic automation, and with fair wage employment on the rise in many other countries, there has also been an increase in the use of robots there. Amid these discussions and trends, recent studies show that, in fact, industrial robotics actually positively impact jobs and the economy.

How is this possible? If robots are replacing jobs, how can they also be creating them and benefiting surrounding economies? As we look at manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and abroad, we can see how increased productivity offered through automation and robotic systems has direct and indirect influence on employment numbers.

Creating New Jobs

Between 2008 and 2011, an estimated 500,000 to 750,000 new jobs were created because of the robotics industry. This growth is attributed to the increased level of productivity in manufacturing companies. While the robotic solution has previously displaced a number of workers, the increased efficiency also led to increased productivity. Historically, this improved output has led to lower prices and a greater demand for products with more circulation. Entirely new market segments have resulted as more people work together to deliver products to consumers.

As these automated systems continue to provide value in the manufacturing industry, the demand for more, newer, and better systems continues to rise. This, in turn, increases the demand for qualified people in the robotics industry. At the same time, these manufacturing companies require people to manage, maintain, and program the new material handling robots, conveyor systems, as well as other automated solutions. By some estimates, the robotics industry on its own generates around 170,000 jobs worldwide. The operators and technicians who use and deploy these robots account for tens of thousands more, and those figures don’t include jobs that are indirectly created due to increased productivity.

Potential Future Impact on Different Industries

The affordability and potential benefit of modern robotic systems is making them a valid option in industries that are either experiencing sudden growth or market segments that previously had no real need for them. Some examples include:

  • Food industries – Since this is traditionally not an industry that requires the precise work of robotic systems, there were not many opportunities to implement these solutions. Going forward, though, there are more uses for them to meet regulated hygiene conditions, produce processed meals, and handle packaging. All of these segments could lead to potential new jobs.
  • Alternative energies – Photovoltaic cells and wind power are becoming viable and affordable alternatives in the consumer market. The increased demand means that manufacturers must produce these products in larger volumes while still maintaining a high level of quality. As the install base gets bigger, the robotic industry to create them can grow larger, and more people will be necessary to handle maintenance and installs.
  • Electric vehicles – More people are purchasing electric vehicles, and this higher acceptance means that many of the tools used in the normal automotive industry will be applied to this newer segment.
  • New consumer electronics – There are many new devices that simply wouldn’t be available in the same quantity or at the same price without robotics. These devices lead to jobs with sales, related services, and delivery. Without the production capabilities from robotic systems, most of the jobs related to production would have to go overseas.

The indirect jobs that benefit from robotic automation include everything from retailers to distributors – conceivably millions of jobs. There are also places and industries that simply could not exist if they didn’t have the right robotic tools (i.e. jobs that have such poor conditions that people couldn’t – or shouldn’t – be working them), but as we continue to develop effective solutions, the job market can continue to evolve and grow. 

Author: Mark Colzani


SPS Chauhan says:
8/28/2018 10:08 AM

Excellent & Informative Article Ken.

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