Thursday, December 15, 2011

Robots to create jobs!

Who would have thought it - Robots being responsible for  job creation? It has been demonstrated repeatedly that automation and robotics increase productivity and efficiency and growth. The Automating Manufacturing Programme, funded by the British Government aims to increase the competitiveness of manufacturing there, which will create growth and in turn result in greater employment. 

Robotics in the food industry!
The latest study conducted by the market research firm, Metra MartechPositive Impact of Industrial Robots on Employment published recently by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) in Tokyo, demonstrates that 3 million jobs have been directly created in recent years by the use of robots and a further 1 million positions  estimated globally by 2016.

Mike Wilson Chairman of the British Automation and Robots Association (BARA) said "This is great news for British manufacturing. The IFR study highlights the importance of robotics to the future growth of UK industry and the jobs it will create as a result. The recently launched government funded Automating Manufacturing Programme is providing assistance to companies looking to use automation to improve competitiveness and drive growth....Together we can make UK manufacturing the best in the world and create the jobs that our country needs."

The report found that between 2000-2008, manufacturing employment increased in nearly every major industrialised country, even as the use of industrialised robotics increased sharply. This trend is now being seen in China, Brazil and other emerging markets as they rapidly increase their use of robotics. In Brazil, the number of robots almost quadrupled during the study period with both production and employment rising by over 20%.

The report also highlighted 3 areas of importance with respect to growth in this market:
  • Robots carry out work that is unsafe for humans
  • Robots carry out work that is not viable in a high wage economy
  • Robots carry out work that would be impossible for humans
One of the case studies cited was the company Odense Steel Shipyard (DK) - an excellent example of robots saving jobs in a high wage economy. Shipbuilding in Europe has been in decline in the last 2 - 4 decades but robots have been key to efficiency savings to Odense. The company has invested in an autonomous, robotic arc welding system that has yielded big dividends. Productivity increased six fold when compared with manual welding, speeded up production time and made quality improvements, whilst also protecting the jobs of the qualified welders.

The British Government is providing, through the PPMA Group, up to £600,000 of funding to promote automation in manufacturing.  Chief Executive Officer of the PPMA group Chris Buxton commented "we are delighted that the Government has put its full weight behind a programme that recognises the importance of automation in UK industry and the positive effect this has for growth and employment."

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