Collaborative robots or cobots are viewed with trepidation by some and by others as the best invention in the history of factory automation. The debate on their effect on the workplace does not seem likely to end with some perceiving them as the end of work as we know it and still some who view them as an opening to job advancement and the creation of more meaningful employment.
Cobot manufacturers such as https://www.universal-robots.com/ look to the future with hope having been in the forefront of creating the growing cobot industry. As creators of the cobots, they view their creation as changing the world of work by making it easier to do, accurate and producing high quality end products.
On the other hand, there are those who view the cobot as a killer of jobs and an invention to benefit owners of factories.
Here are some effects of continued cobot use to employment at this stage of development and in future with more technological advances.
Reduces available jobs
Reducing available jobs is one of the foremost effects on employment by cobots. As with traditional robots, cobots are used to automate certain jobs in the factory. As a consequence of automation, the workforce that used to perform these tasks are rendered redundant and jobless.
This is the biggest fear for most employees. This is because, in the future, in addition to factory jobs, there are other jobs that could be easily automated and thus more jobs will be lost.
Could create new employment opportunities
Other groups of cobot and technology enthusiasts are of the view that cobots could actually lead to a growth in new employment. Jobs that cobots are likely to stimulate are within manufacturing of cobots. The new jobs would mostly be engineering and programming jobs. The factories that adopt the cobots will also need to employ them to repair and maintain their cobots in good working condition.
As cobots will lead to higher productivity, companies will therefore need to employ more people to sell the more goods that will be produced.
The jobs that will be created by cobots will be highly advanced jobs in mechanical, electrical and computer engineering and computer programming. As a result, there will be high demand for individuals with these skills and therefore companies will be willing to pay substantially higher wages to attract and retain the best quality talent.
Robot-human collaboration in the workplace
This is another major effect of cobots on employment. As people get to their workplace, they can expect to see both robots and other human beings as colleagues. Cobots have been manufactured to be safe for use by human beings unlike traditional robots that were kept in their own spaces. Some cobots are even used by hand like a manual tool to streamline and ease the production of a high end product.
Increasingly, cobots are assigned tasks that are deemed dangerous to human staff such as handling hazardous material. In the auto manufacturing industry, cobots are working cohesively with human staff on a single car with different parts and tasks assigned to the cobot and others to the human staff.
Artificial Intelligence Cobots
As artificial intelligence technology advances cobots will become smarter and more autonomous in completing tasks assigned. They will have the ability to rectify errors in the production process and also to streamline bottlenecks in the process and this could result in faster production process and a higher quality product.
Advancements in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things could successfully lead to the creation of a lights out factory. A factory where only robots operate and will not need lights to be switched as they will not need human presence.
This will then lead to hiring of people with specialized technology and engineering skills to monitor the robots remotely, and to repair and reprogram them when need arises.
Cobots have greatly improved work environments for employees. The future work place will revolve around the cobot and as such employment as we know it now will be greatly affected.