Robots Are Shaking Up Manufacturing. Is Your Job at Risk?

August 3, 2017 - Emily Newton

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Whether you love them or hate them, robots are here to stay. The field of robotics engineering is catching on fast, and it offers many advantages for tech-savvy professionals. Although some employees —particularly those in manufacturing — are worried that robots will take over their jobs, this isn’t very probable. Instead, robots are more likely to work alongside human workers and complement their productivity on a day-to-day basis.

What’s the Problem?

Many general laborers are concerned about losing their jobs to automation in the workplace, and it’s easy to understand why. Enough jobs are already gone as a result of automated assembly lines and advanced production methods.

But many economists think that increased automation, especially in manufacturing, will benefit both the employees and the industry as a whole. These experts are quick to point out that robotics will likely replace mostly mundane, laborious tasks. The future offers some great opportunities for those who are willing to embrace robotics engineering.

Robotics Engineering Creates New Opportunities

There’s no denying that we’ve already lost some jobs to automation. After all, the total number of workers in the steel industry alone has dropped from 500,000 to 100,000 since 1950. But when you look back at the Industrial Revolution of the 20th century, you’ll find that most of the advancements made during that era were either a result of or resulted in emerging forms of automation. Manufacturers of this era didn’t die off because of the crude robotics and large machines. Instead, they thrived.

Experts predict that approximately 3.5 million jobs will become available throughout the manufacturing sector within the next decade. However, nearly 2 million of these jobs are expected to go unfilled. Not only are skilled workers worried that they’ll lose their jobs, but their employers are concerned about having enough talent to fill their entire roster in the coming years.

Many believe that history will repeat itself by generating a bevy of brand-new opportunities in the workplace. Cashiers were worried that barcode scanners would replace their jobs in the 1980s. However, the new technology had the opposite effect. Instead of phasing out cashiers altogether, stores hired even more to accommodate new economic growth.

A similar trend occurred when automated teller machines, or ATMs, first rolled out to the general public. Instead of eliminating the traditional bank teller from the picture, statistics show that the number of bank tellers has increased by an average of two percent annually in the US. Experts are optimistic that our nation will resume this kind of economic growth in the wake of increased automation.

Instead of worrying about where their next paycheck might come from, skilled laborers who currently work in manufacturing should try to embrace technology and learn everything they can about the new systems in play.

robotics engineering on a computer

The Road to Full Integration

Even with the proliferation of industrial robotics, the manufacturing industry hasn’t become fully integrated with automation. Some obstacles stand in the way, including current limitations on technology, the availability of hardware and finding employees who are knowledgeable about robotics engineering. Whoever can overcome these challenges can finally lead their company to full automation integration.

Another major problem with the full-on integration of robotics is more of a technical issue. Problems associated with electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) can result in unwanted cross-talk between robots on the factory floor. This could cause general confusion or malfunctions within the machines’ programming. Manufacturers can prevent issues with EMI and EMC by performing the proper tests on any robotic devices in their shop. Some sectors, such as aerospace, military and medical device manufacturing, maintain specific standards that dictate the testing of such equipment.

Working With Robots to Benefit the Future of Manufacturing

Although some jobs will become obsolete as a result of industrial robotics, it might be a necessity to spur future economic growth. Regardless of the importance we end up placing on the upcoming generation of robotics engineering professionals, human intervention will always be needed to supervise operations, perform quality assurance and maintain communications with suppliers, vendors and distributors.

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.


Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She manages the sites publishing schedule, SEO optimization and content strategy. Emily enjoys writing and researching articles about how technology is changing every industry. When she isn't working, Emily enjoys playing video games or curling up with a good book.

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