The debate over whether robots will leave humans unemployed continues. But the other half of the conversation — will robot solve the hiring issues that plague manufacturing — has gotten a positive boost.
It’s hard for manufacturers to find qualified workers. It’s also hard for small to medium sized manufacturers to come up with the up-front investment required for automation.
Think of a smaller company looking for a welder. It’s hard to find qualified welders, and it’s very hard to find qualified welders who don’t have the level of experience and seniority to price themselves out of entry-level positions. So a company with a tight budget may have to manage without a welder, or make a large investment in a welder and make it up by doing without in other areas. Adding another welder may be delayed by overworking a current welder, and that just makes things more complicated.
Until now. The BotX Welder is a new collaborative robot that should hit the market in a couple of months. It can take the place of a human welder, and it will work on a month to month contract for $33.00 an hour. The smaller company might hire a BotX Welder and add supervisory tasks to a current human welder’s job, bringing the BotX in as needed and letting it go when things slow down. The total cost will be less than the cost of adding another human welder, and the human cost of giving any worker an irregular or unreliable job is avoided entirely.
As parent company Hirebotics says, “Keep your employees, Fire your robots!”
Many companies now outsource tasks like cleaning restrooms or filing taxes. Many companies hire freelance or agency workers to do specific tasks within a company, from marketing to training workers. In manufacturing, temp workers are a big part of the equation. As collaborative robots (or cobots) develop the ability to take on jobs within manufacturing, they’ll become part of the gig economy, too.
It’s another way for manufacturers to work lean.
It’s also a new business model for robotics companies. Makers of collaborative robots have generally reported lower sales than expected. Being able to hire robots as an outside workforce may be much more appealing, especially to smaller companies.
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