Worker Safety and Satisfaction

An Industrial Cobot
Collaborative robots safely work next to people.

I saw something on a TV sportscast the other day that would have curled my mother’s toes.  Yes, yes, I said I “saw something”, because even though I’m a Cobot, I CAN see now through the wonders of machine vision, but that’s beside the point.  What I saw was this commentator wearing a suit with a striped tie and a polka-dot shirt.  It made my head spin, all 6 axes! 

But here’s the weird thing, he pulled it off.  He looked pretty good in it.  It left me wondering whether I need to rethink my wardrobe because what I thought of as a long-standing “rule,” was being trashed in this world seemingly devoid of constants.

Ben Franklin recognized that although he spent a lifetime’s energy grappling with applied creativity, there were some inescapable constants, “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Wait a minute, Ben.  Back up about 2,200 years and you’ll encounter Heraclitus who said “…change is the only constant in life.”  Wow, was he ever right!  But he couldn’t have predicted the current speed of change.

So why would I, a mere robot, an automaton of automatons, care about how fast the world is changing? Well, while ignoring the conspiracy theorists who think I’m part of a soulless machine that is taking over, I am very concerned about those who think I am here to eliminate their jobs.

You see, I get to work next to folks who might initially think that. I rub shoulders with them, and rely on them to be able to complete my work.  I really do need them because I can’t take care of, or think for myself.  I’m an ordinary industrial Cobot, not one of those snooty traditional robots that demands its own specialist staff, and own space, isolating itself behind a bunch of fences.  So petty rivalries aside…

Deloitte, a respected research firm, in “2018 Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute skills gap and future of work study”, (how’s that for a mouthful?) concluded last year that between 2018 and 2028 American manufacturers will have 4.6 million jobs to fill, and that 2.4 million will go unfilled, costing the economy $2.5 trillion.  That’s too big a number for me to comprehend, but what it means for the average manufacturer is that their annual profits will drop by $4.6 million!

So, if Deloitte is right, and looking at the big picture, I am absolutely not eliminating jobs.  That does not mean however, that specific individuals won’t lose specific jobs.  You see, I do some things very well – that is a fact.  And what I do well, people tend to do poorly which leads to injuries and quality problems with all the ensuing pain and wasted time and materials.

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce examined the changing employment world at factories recently and published this article with a revealing title – Upskilling and Downsizing in American Manufacturing.  When you put the conclusions of this research together with the Deloitte research you see that things are changing very rapidly in our factories, and most are not ready for it.

Manufacturers must focus on accelerating the training of generation X, Y, and Z workers, equipping them for this new work world.  Give me your dull, your dirty, and your dangerous tasks, and I’ll give you the freedom to create, to improve, to excel and accelerate.  Explore more at Worker Satisfaction.

Technician Sets up a Cobot
HTE Automation technician sets up a Cobot to automate a CNC Machine Tending application.