Emotions Delay Automation

Automation is on the rise, but implementation is still not keeping pace with the availability of technology.

Some readers may be surprised. After all, we frequently read enthusiastic announcements of robots’ ability to clean up oil spills, cook hamburgers, or take on some other practical task — and then discover that simulations suggest that they might someday clean up oil spills. That they can’t put tomatoes on those burgers. Or that researchers have been able to get pretty close to completing a practical task…at phenomenally overblown costs, and only with a human being assisting and directing the robot.

In some cases, robots may not be ready to do the tasks they’re needed for, but recent research suggests that this is not what’s really slowing down automation. McKinsey determined in 2017  that roughly 87% of tasks in manufacturing could be automated.

Forbes suggests that industrial robots are just too hard to use. Power and precision have been the focus of robot research, and machine makers have assumed that highly trained individuals will be the ones operating the robots.

Automation workarounds

Automation has been leaping ahead in agriculture, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to use. One dairy farmer, however, rejected the conventional wisdom that said robotic milking machines don’t work with pasture-grazed cattle. She taught cows to come back to the barn to get a drink, and then required them to get permission from a robot to leave the barn.

Cows needing to be milked didn’t get that permission until they had been milked.

If cows can learn to cooperate with automated systems, surely human beings can, too.

Rexroth’s Open Core Engineering has made it possible for programmers to work with the machines and devices that are already familiar to them. Other innovations, such as wizards and toolkits, allow initial configuration without programming.

Building on skills your people already have lessens the threat of the Skills Gap. And it may be that management feelings that workers won’t be able to operate machines easily can actually prevent implementation of automation.

Rexroth drive and control systems have been getting easier to use, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your legacy components. We are experts in Rexroth electric industrial machinery. We are happy to help. When you need support or service for your Rexroth units, old or new, call us at 479-422-0390.

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