“Unexpected item in bagging area” – A pretty well-known phrase in today’s supermarkets, but prior to the last decade, this was a fairly new technology. As we moved into a more automated society, self-checkout was probably the first directly noticeable replacement of humans by robots. As the popularity grew, by 2013, there were 191,000 self-checkout machines in use around the world, and by 2025, it is predicted that 1.2 million units will be installed worldwide.
Now, of course, the first instance of robots overruling human workers was seen long before the 21st century. As early as 1961, prototype industrial robots were deployed in General Motors factories, and automotive automation boomed in the 1970s.
Today, robots have a presence in a variety of industries and there are common misconceptions that robots are taking human jobs. This guide aims to dismantle the fear-mongering around robotics overruling jobs – so let’s dive in.
Job displacement due to automation is not a new concept
As mentioned earlier, automation has been around since the 20th century as early as 1961, when automotive company General Motors installed robotics in their factories. The automotive industry were pioneers in robotics, leading to new and useful purposes for robotics in the pharmaceutical, construction and consumer industries.
Automation will create more jobs than it eradicates
On the surface of automation, the consumer has only seen the loss of jobs, however the World Economic Forum reported that more jobs will eventually be created once former jobs have been replaced. The report saw the rise of robots and automation would result in the loss of 85 million jobs by 2025. In conjunction with this, they estimate that 97 million new jobs will be produced, leaving a total increase of 12 million new job opportunities.
Robots are not as accurate as humans
This one is a little contradictory, so bear with. Yes, robots are extremely accurate when programmed to be so, however, there are some instances where production lines or manufacturing plants require the human eye. Mass production is a prime example of where we require a lift from robotics, however, quality control is still very much a hands-on process.
However, there are machines in factories now that can scan an item and disregard it if it is faulty. For example, a carton of milk going through production is scanned at the end of the line – this is achieved by taking thousands of photos. If it is defective (I.e. the seal is not on properly), it will be disregarded and pushed into another line for the bin.
Robots are not about to take over the world
iRobot was a frightening watch, even Metropolis in 1927 had us twiddling our thumbs – yet, robots are no way near to taking over the world. Luckily, unlike toddlers, they have an off-switch.
Advantages of robotics in the workplace
More rewarding work available: Separating parts on a conveyor belt or gathering products in a warehouse/fulfillment center can be tiring, and mind numbing work. Luckily, by programming machines, it is easy to make this transition – leaving the more fulfilling work to the humans of the workplace.
Time saving: Whilst trained employees know their way around a machine, robotics take less time to train and can save the company money as well as additional training time. Further to this, there are fewer mistakes to be made by a programmed robot, in comparison to a human employee – saving on additional breakdown costs.
If you want to learn more about robotics in the workplace and society, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence is a book that discusses A.I and its impact on the future of life on Earth and beyond, as well as the theories behind robotics and whether they have an internal thought stream.
Contact Junair Spraybooths for more information
The tale of robotics technology is still developing before our eyes, given the volume of investment and experience in the sector. Junair’s products are a tribute to our skill and attention to product research, and you will not only enhance productivity and lower expenses, but the quality of your work will be unrivalled.