The robot revolution is coming and it is set to create many more jobs than it will displace. But which type of AI is best suited to your business?
The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) report released last week projected that by 2022 robots and AI will create almost double the jobs (130 million) they are set to replace (75 million). You can read more about that here.
But, there are many different types of robotics and artificial intelligence, and choosing which area of your production to invest AI in is difficult.
Tony Hague, CEO of PP Control & Automation, one of the world’s largest suppliers of electrical control systems told The Manufacturer: “Whichever form of automation you feel could improve your business – whether that is a new packaging line, robotics, a MRP system – take the plunge and explore how you can move up the value chain.”
The report has also projected the type of robotics that will be adopted in different sectors, and highlights that wider manufacturing supply chains will utilise stationary and non-humanoid robots before other sectors do.
Manufacturers will – according to the report – be the ‘first movers’ to employ stationary and non-humanoid robotics particularly within aerospace and automotive industries, whereas financial services and the oil and gas sector will reportedly use humanoid, aerial and underwater robots.
Case study: Stationary robot works in -30°C
Macphie Ltd, an Aberdeen-based bakery manufacturer, invested in KUKA robot ‘Cookie’ last year.
The robot stacks cookie dough pallets in the freezer at the Scottish factory, working in temperatures as low as -30 degrees celsius.
Prior to the robot’s introduction, an employee would work for 10 minutes in the freezer before having to leave, this meant the freezer door was opened and closed more frequently, which led to moisture and ice forming and this resulted in hazards.
The robot works 16-hours a day in the harsh conditions, has removed manual handling, upskilled the workforce and has enabled a safer working environment.
Read more about Cookie here, and why this example of stationary robotics was absolutely necessary.
Robotics will add value to the workforce
It also found that just over half (54%) of employees of large companies would need significant upskilling in order to fully harness the opportunities offered by Industry 4.0 technologies.
Employees could learn how to programme advanced robotics and other tech in order to best apply these to businesses.
Hague added: “In the short to medium term there could well be some displacement of lower skilled jobs as companies invest in upskilling and moving up the value chain, but that initial issue will soon be replaced with a positive outlook that is a lot more sustainable.
“The upshot for both the big boys and SMEs in the UK is that we simply don’t have a choice to invest in automation. It is something we have to do, in order to improve productivity and our ability to compete on the global stage.”
Understanding where to invest in robotics and automation in a business is tricky. But with an abundance of solutions and more being constantly created, manufacturers now have many options and opportunities to integrate 4IR technologies into their business, from low-cost stationary robotics to mobile robots and even automating in freezing conditions to upskill and improve safety.