robotics engineering, manufacturing job risk

Robots are Shaking up Manufacturing. Is Your Job at Risk?

Read Time: 2 minutes

Whether you love them or hate them, robots are here to stay. The field of robotics engineering is catching on fast, and it’s one that offers many advantages for tech-savvy professionals. Although some employees, particularly those in the manufacturing industry, are worried that robots will completely take over their jobs, this isn’t very probable. Instead, robots are more likely to work alongside human workers and complement their productivity on a day-to-day basis.

What’s the Problem?

Many general laborers are concerned about losing their jobs to the increasing amount of automation in the workplace. Enough jobs are already gone as a result of automated assembly lines and advanced production methods, so it’s easy to see their concern.

But many economists think that increased automation, especially in manufacturing, will benefit both the employees and the industry as a whole. These experts are quick to point out that while some mundane, laborious tasks will likely be replaced by robotics, the future offers some great opportunities for those who are willing to expand their knowledge of technology and embrace robotics engineering.

Eliminating Some Jobs While Creating New Opportunities

There’s no denying the fact that we’ve already lost some jobs on account of automation. After all, the total number of workers in the steel industry alone dropped from 500,000 to 100,000 since 1950. But when you look back at the Industrial Revolution of the 20th century, you’ll find that most of the advancements made during that era were either a result of or resulted in emerging forms of automation. Manufacturers of this era didn’t die off because of the crude robotics and large machines. Instead, they thrived.

Experts predict that approximately 3.5 million jobs will become available throughout the manufacturing sector within the next decade, but nearly 2 million of these jobs are expected to go unfilled. Not only are skilled workers worried that they’ll lose their jobs, but their employers are concerned about having enough talent to fill their entire roster in the coming years.

Many believe that history will repeat itself by generating a bevy of brand new opportunities in the workplace. Cashiers were worried that bar code scanners would replace their jobs in the 1980s, but the introduction of new technology had the opposite effect. Instead of phasing out cashiers altogether, even more were hired to accommodate new economic growth.

A similar trend occurred when automated teller machines, or ATMs, were rolled out to the general public. Instead of eliminating the traditional bank teller from the picture, statistics show that the number of bank tellers has increased by an average of 2% per year in the United States. Experts are optimistic that our nation will resume this kind of economic growth in the wake of increased automation and robotics in the manufacturing industry.

Instead of worrying where their next paycheck might come from, skilled laborers who currently work in manufacturing should be trying to embrace technology and learn everything they can about the new systems in play.

The Road to Full Integration

Even with the proliferation of industrial robotics, the manufacturing industry hasn’t become fully integrated with automation. Some obstacles stand in the way, including current limitations on technology, the availability of hardware and finding employees that are knowledgeable in the field of robotics engineering. Whoever can overcome these challenges can finally lead their company to full automation integration.

Another major problem with the full-on integration of robotics is more of a technical issue. Problems associated with electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) can result in unwanted cross-talk between robots on the factory floor. This could cause general confusion or malfunction within the machine’s programming. Manufacturers can prevent issues with EMI and EMC by performing the proper tests on any robotic devices in their shop. Some sectors, such as aerospace, military, and medical device manufacturing, maintain specific standards that dictate the testing of such equipment.

Working With Robots to Benefit the Future of Manufacturing

Although some jobs will become obsolete as a result of industrial robotics, it might be a necessity to spur on future growth both within the industry and throughout the economy. Regardless of the importance, we end up placing on the upcoming generation of robot workers, human intervention will always be needed to supervise operations, perform quality assurance and maintain communications with suppliers, vendors and distributors.

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Article by: Megan Ray Nichols

Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance science writer and science enthusiast. Her favorite subjects include astronomy and the environment. She encourages discussions in these fields. Megan is also a regular contributor to Datafloq, The Energy Collective, and David Renke's World of Space. When she isn't writing, Megan loves watching movies, hiking and stargazing. Love what you're reading on Schooled By Science? Don't forget to subscribe today!