They can increase the flexibility, quality and speed of production, and enable companies to respond rapidly to changing market conditions. Are robots likely to kill jobs or will they help to future-proof SMEs? Robots were first used in industrial manufacturing in the 1960s and, since then, their number has increased inexorably. Some 500,000 to 600,000 new robot systems are now becoming operational throughout the world each year – although the increase is particularly noticeable in the Asian market, as reported in ‘World Robotics 2019’ by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) and Fraunhofer IPA.If small and medium-sized production companies in Europe want to keep up with constant economic growth internationally, they need to invest more in automation for cost reasons alone. Meanwhile, there’s an increasing shortage of workers. According to forecasts by Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, low birth rates will reduce the available workforce from around 44 million in 2013 to around 40 to 42 million in 2030. The UK is likely to experience similar shortages. According to BCG (Boston Consulting Group), there could be a labour shortage of up to 7.7 million people. Greater automation is therefore needed to counteract this decline.
Read the full article in the October issue of PBSI
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