We’re hearing a lot about “getting back to normal,” but we’re also recognizing that there may be a new normal. Our future lives might not be the same as they were before the pandemic. One of the areas where that change could play out is in workplace automation.
Robots took on a lot of jobs during the pandemic, as companies were required to create more distance between human workers, to increase output with fewer staff, and to automate high-touch processes.
Having gotten used to robots disinfecting surfaces and fetching things for us, will we keep the robots on once human workers are vaccinated and available?
Nearly 60% of retailers say they’re ready to trust roots to scan shelves and find out of stock items — even though this was exactly the task Walmart made headlines with when they laid off robots and brought humans back in.
It’s just one example of the uncertainty companies face when they try to decide which tasks can continue to e automated and which will be better with humans at the helm.
The other side of the coin is how trustful workers feel about getting back to their workplaces. The U.S. is still thousands of manufacturing jobs down from where we were a year ago. Surveys show that most American workers want to get back to work, if only to see their friends and have a bak from their families. At the same time, they’re not ready to get back to work until they’re sure it’s safe.
However, the pandemic encouraged manufacturers to take the plunge and invest in automation even if they had been hesitant to do so before. Some estimates show a 25-fold increase in adoption of new technologies. Companies may have resisted these changes, but once they’ve been forced into them, there’s not much reason for most to go back.
Productivity may be top of mind as economies reopen. Many industries were surprised by soaring demand — snack cakes and athleisure wear, for example. Nobody is sure how demand might increase or decrease in any given industry as post-pandemic changes take place during the transition.
Smaller manufacturing companies are pushing toward automation, using lower cost robots and fewer humans to re-enter the economy carefully.
Drive and control machinery will continue to be important, and our services for those using legacy Rexroth motion control can keep costs down. Contact us immediately to find out how we can help you with the transition back to an open economy.