How AI and IoT affects the manufacturing job market

Posted on 19 Jun 2020 by The Manufacturer

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and smart devices are gaining more and more traction in the manufacturing market.

AI can be used to automate multiple things, and the technologies behind it keep getting better, and smarter. And combining AI with the IoT means fewer people will be required to take decisions and to execute those decisions.

If things keep evolving as they have been so far, one thing is certain: the manufacturing industry will never be the same.

But, how can AI and IoT affect the manufacturing job market? How can they improve it? Will we run out of manufacturing jobs?

5 Ways AI and IoT Can Revolutionize Manufacturing Jobs

Here’s how AI and IoT are already revolutionizing manufacturing jobs:

  1. Cost Optimization

Cost optimization is one of the main benefits that AI and IoT offer, starting with fewer human hours. AI can organize machines that work all day, every day. 

And it’s not just about machines. Through predictive analysis, AI can forecast the amount of resources needed according to the amount of sales expected. AI and IoT can also work together through sensors to keep track of the manufacturing process as well as finding, solving and preventing bottlenecks.

Once everything is set up, these machines can work independently, without any need of continuous human input.

  1. Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance is another way an AI’s predictive analysis directly impacts manufacturing jobs. Through complex machine learning, AI can predict when and how a part may fail. The more data you feed to it, the better it’ll become at predicting failure.

This doesn’t just immediately reduce costs by preventing larger failures through maintenance, it also reduces losses caused by unexpected failures. You don’t need to stop a machine for days (or weeks) due to a failure, because your AI would’ve already prepared you for it. 

This also increases the effectiveness of your repairs team, since they can focus on preventive, scheduled repairs instead of fixing machines as they fail.

Predictive maintenance is so lucrative that it not only pays for itself, but has been shown to have up to a 545% ROI.

  1. Production Optimization

With production optimization, you can optimize production and increase efficiency. You can use it with both IoT and human operators.

This is achieved through machine learning algorithms, that learn both from your operators and your machines’ sensors to establish relations between them and identify production improvements. 

Through this insight, AI can give your operators recommendations in real-time to improve production.

  1. Robots

Industrial robots have been a part of the manufacturing industry long before they became part of the Internet of Things. Although they can be a huge investment, industrial robots can do more than any human can, and usually work along them to optimize production. 

Nowadays, we have collaborative robots, or cobots, to work along with humans or even fully replace them in repetitive tasks. These robots aren’t as huge of an investment as industrial robots, and are more flexible and adaptable too.

With AI, cobots can easily be supervised and easily reprogrammed. Due to the repetitive nature of the production line, cobots are usually a great option to replace humans, preventing injuries and increasing production speed.

  1. Machine vision

Computer vision is one of the most futuristic-looking ways AI and IoT can directly impact manufacturing jobs. And it’s one of the cheapest ways too!

HD cameras can be used with punch-in systems to validate employee work time. Through machine vision, your AI can spot machine defects, handle quality control and keep track of production.

Machine vision can also be used to prevent health and safety issues. It can identify workers without the right safety equipment and prevent contamination risks. When it identifies an issue, the AI can block access to individuals, and even stop production altogether.

You can also use machine vision to read text and barcodes and keep track of your parts and raw materials. This can help you in multiple ways, from automating your warehouse inventory, to helping your operators use the right parts and guide them through complex processes.

Are AI and IoT Creating Jobs Or Destroying Them?

While AI and IoT are replacing humans in the manufacturing job market, they’re also creating new jobs in their production, supervision and maintenance. So, which way is the scale tipping?

During the sixties, over 10% of the United States population worked in factories. Today, that number is down to 4%. Through AI and IoT, factories are slowly but systematically replacing humans with machines, and this trend will continue going up.

According to a study done by McKinsey & Co., up to 45% of tasks done by humans today could be done by machines. A survey done at Oxford found that 20 million jobs will be lost to robots in the next ten years alone.

So, how does that translate to the job market?

There’s still a long way to go to make the Internet of Things effective. There’s a lot of code to be written, data to be scraped and programs to be designed so IoT becomes as usable as it can be. And then we need humans to design and build the robots. In the UK alone, robotics specialists are expected to double jobs in the next five years. And while the items that form part of the IoT may be increasingly produced by machines, it will be IT professionals, like developers and scrapers, who will need to build the frame for both AI and IoT.


As we’ve seen, AI and IoT will create more jobs than they destroy in the manufacturing market. However, these jobs will be very different from the jobs people hold today.

Through automation, goods will become cheaper and better produced, which will allow companies to hire more people for areas where AI and IoT can’t be used. These jobs will focus on high-skilled people in design, marketing, and, most importantly, in IT.

That’s why you shouldn’t be worried about losing your job to robots. You should instead be preparing for the future by expanding your skillset, improving your money management and betting on companies rather than working for them.

The future of the manufacturing job market isn’t in production, but in the creation and automation of the IoT and AI.