The industrial revolution paved the way for machines and various pieces of equipment to become game-changers in the manufacturing industry. These pieces of machinerywere able to revolutionize the way the world did business, which aimed to supply a growing consumer demand.
In the early 1950s, the first-everrobot, “Unimate,” was invented by George Devol who was able to patent his invention. The robot patent was acquired by Joseph Engleberger in the 1960s, who was then known as the “Father of Robotics” because he was able to modify the Unimate into an industrial robot.
From then on, thousands of brilliant minds have come up with ways to innovate and develop programs or applications that has allowed them to create robots for different purposes. The presence of robots are not only found in the entertainment and business sectors, but also for everyday household appliances.
It’s safe to say that in the 21st century, people and robots have begun to peacefully co-exist. All that fear-mongering about how one day, the robots are going to take over the world is purely science fiction and made through guesswork since people in the olden days had no clue about how they actually function.
However, just because the robots won’t take over the world through evil domination doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of taking over the human workforce’s jobs. Across different industries, trailblazers are starting to introduce automation and working prototypes of a collaborative robot into their workforce to improve their day-to-day operations.
Pro: Improve Precision and Accuracy
Human mistakes and errors during the manufacturing process can account for the bulk of the resources wasted daily. This can include the damages to the equipment, errors in assembly lines, or even mishandling of the machines. All these human errors lead to downtime, imprecise outputs, and wastage.
However, with robots that can be programmed to perform tasks with minimal to no supervision, it can improve the overall precision and accuracy during the manufacturing process. Robots can be programmed to tend to the machines, or participate in the assembly, packaging, and palletizing processes.
This is not to say that robots and automated machines have no faults, but their errors can easily be reprogrammed so that their mistakes won’t be repeated. The same cannot be said for the human workforce, mainly because they aren’t machines that function through programs.
Pro: Increase Productivity in the Workplace
Another aspect of the human workforce that robots can solve is the productivity component. Since it is inhumanely possible to continuously work on the optimum rate of productivity, the human workforce will need to take frequent breaks throughout the workday, which can put a halt to the production.
Robots, on the other hand, can function without breaks and deliver the same quality of work throughout the process. This means that robots can increase overall productivity, while maintaining the desired quality of precision and accuracy.
Their presence in the workplace can help the company the robots belong to keep with their schedules and deadlines without risking the safety of their workers. By eliminating the human fatigue factor during production, companies can easily meet their quotas and deliver their high-quality products.
Con: Downtime of Machinery
While there is no human fatigue or errors that have to be taken into account, it is still possible for robots to experience downtime. This can happen when the machines are overworked and used continuously without rest, which puts the gears into overdrive that may cause an eventual breakdown.
Just because machines can work continuously doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be given ample time to rest. Machines can only perform well if they are maintained and kept in their optimal condition. This can be achieved through proper scheduling and preventive maintenance.
It can be difficult to continue with the manufacturing process when the machines are out of order. This can bring the production line to a complete stop, with costly repairs taking most of your operational budget while the operators are clueless about what to do next. Downtime is equal to the loss of profits.
Con: Loss of Jobs for Low-skilled Workers
The main societal problem that arises with the presence of robots in the workplace is that many workers will be displaced. While robots gradually take over the routine jobs in the manufacturing industry that only require minimum skills, millions of jobs will be lost for the sake of productivity.
This innovation in the business sectors can mean an increase in unemployment rates and income inequality, which may force more people into poverty. But although there is a big threat of losing jobs to robots, the path towards the future shouldn’t be blocked. If anything, it should be patronized.
It may be frightening to put automation and robotics at the forefront of innovation, especially at the expense of the human race. But if policy-makers and stakeholders invest more resources into upskilling their workers to perform other jobs or prepare for the future, then there should be no long-term problems that will hinder the advancement of technology.