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Industrial Robotics is Transforming Manufacturing

Industrial robots are on the brink of transforming manufacturing as we know it. Demand for android-employees has risen steadily in recent years and global patent numbers in robotics continue to grow year-on-year. So, what are the need-to-knows about the not so distant future of robotic colleagues?


Common Uses of Robotics in Manufacturing

The latest industrial robots have taken the replication of human intelligence to a new level. Traits such as memory and trainability can now be found in our android coworkers, closing the gap toward human workplace capability. They are often used to perform dangerous tasks that are unsuitable for human staffs. Robots are useful in situations that require high output and no errors. 

From a digital viewpoint, a transformation in manufacturing involves a combination of the Internet of Things, cloud computing & cyber-physical systems, to name a few. Oracle’s Infrastructure as a Services (IaaS) offers an integrated approach to artificial intelligence and robotics to change the way they function. The development of apps and mobile services are at the center of the new manufacturing revolution, also known as ‘Industry 4.0’.

Role of Humans alongside Robots

This is already causing small and medium-sized manufacturers to compare the trade-offs between actual (human) employees and automated machines. In this on-going debate, many believe that competitiveness is achieved through reducing the cost of labor. It is assumed that this reduces the need for human employees. However, this is untrue; the rise in robotics is reshaping the role of humans in a manufacturing environment. Operators are learning more technical skills and are involved in critical decision-making. Human operators are better educated, better paid and are more productive than ever before.

Middle-skill occupations such as admin, sales & machine operative work have shrunk from accounting for 60% of jobs to 46% between 1979 and 2012. Reports suggest that 5.1 million jobs will be replaced by robots by 2020. However, job security also doesn’t seem to be a concern for many employees. A recent study of US workers by Randstad Employer Brand Research showed that 75% of workers do not fear their job will be replaced by a machine.

Perhaps their optimism is justified, given that ATMs were once seen as the thing that would eliminate bank tellers. In reality, between 1995 and 2010 the US went from having 100,000 to 400,000 ATMs, and the number of bank tellers also rose from 500,000 to 550,000. The number of ATMs increased by 300%, while bank tellers also grew by 10%. The banking sector saw human skills as holding a  higher-level of importance and banking became a relationship-based service industry.


Threat of Artificial Intelligence

We can speak all day about the role of humans alongside robots, but humans also have a responsibility to use robotics in a non-threatening way. Elon Musk, CEO of Telsa and SpaceX, has very recently joined with other CEO’s of artificial intelligence organizations to urge a ban on AI weapons. There is a fear that if such technologies are used as weapons, they would cause untold destruction & would be nearly impossible to contain.


Artificial Intelligence is no longer just a concept. It is leading many manufacturing processes for large multinationals and also for ambitious medium-sized enterprises. Conversations around AI no longer cover “what if” AI were in the workplace, but rather “what more” can we do to leverage this technology.

Tags: Robots, 4th Industrial Revolution

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About the author

Emma Corbett

Emma is Marketing Executive at Redfaire UK and Ireland. Managing marketing and communication activities, Emma researches & shares relevant ERP content with the Oracle JD Edwards community.

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