Don’t Replace Employees With Robotics; Increase Their Value Instead
Post by MHI Industry Group Blog, Warehouse Automation
A recent video produced by MHIView explores “Designing Robotics with the Workforce in Mind,” a delve into how today’s collaborative robotic solutions are being engineered and programmed to support an existing labor pool — not to replace them. That’s because these autonomous mobile robots fit seamlessly into existing space, adapting to their surroundings rather than requiring a permanent installation like traditional automated solutions. Because of their inherent flexibility and adaptability, these robotic systems free workers from simple, repetitive work and allow them to instead perform more valuable tasks.
As an example, a worker who is proficient at setting up machines — but who has to step away from that role multiple times a day to push a pallet jack across the floor — is likely to be both discouraged and physically drained. Morale may suffer if the associate comes to believe their time is not being valued. By alternatively deploying a mobile autonomous robot to push the cart, the employee can instead dedicate their time solely to their area of expertise without interruption, increasing both job satisfaction and productivity.
Recognizing this, the majority of collaborative robot manufacturers are designing and engineering their solutions to prioritize the employee experience when interacting with the technology. This ensures that — regardless of the associate’s role — staffers can easily understand, use, reprogram and reconfigure the robot; they can interact with it as a tool that helps them better complete their jobs, not to eliminate their positions.
Further, designing these robotic tools with end users in mind increases the technology’s overall value to the organization. That’s because these digital systems enable systematic gathering of data as a precursor to embracing Industry 4.0. Through analysis of the data, processes can be reconsidered and redesigned, enabling a more efficient workflow and improved operational functionality — and identifying new areas to which associates can bring even further value.
For more information about how collaborative robots and other technologies enhance the value of the current workforce, watch the video here.