The world has hugged robots, should the US do the same?

  The world has hugged robots, should the US do the same?

By Ryan Gutherie, Executive Vice President, TM Robotics

America has long been at the forefront of other revolutions – industrial, technological, and digital. But is the United States prepared for the robot revolution? As other countries take initiatives to encourage the introduction of automated technologies, this article explores America's relationship with robots.

According to World Robot Statistics the average robot density in the world is 74 robots per 10,000 employees. The US sits comfortably with 189 robots per 10,000 employees. But despite the fact that robotics welcomed the production lines of automobile manufacturers as early as the 1960s, the country is still kept at a distance as automation.

In 2016, the country began to increase robot density and today the US ranks seventh in the world, behind South Korea, Singapore, Germany, Japan, Sweden and Denmark. This number has been significantly increased by the need to modernize US manufacturing facilities and the growing demand for US-made products. In addition, it is expected that robot sales in the country will increase by at least 15 percent per year by 2020. Simply put, there is no sign of a slowdown in the market.

Despite the rapid increase in automation, more than 70 percent of Americans after 1945 Pew Research still express concerns and concerns about the rise of robots at our workplaces. You may read the report by the McKinsey Global Institute which says that by 2030, 73 million US jobs could be threatened by automation. That sounds threatening, but is the robot revolution really that bad?

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Probably not. Consider this as an example. A manufacturer who saves money by using automation has two options. Generate lower product prices or more profit. Both results can lead to increased investment, higher demand and thus more employment opportunities.

That's not just theoretical. On the other side of the pond in Europe, the SPARC research project is a partnership concept designed to increase the acceptance of robotics in Europe. It is estimated that 240,000 new jobs will be created on the continent as a result of the implementation and maintenance of automated processes.

Amazon also offers an American example of this phenomenon – though more in warehousing than in manufacturing. Within three years, the company increased the number of robots in its warehouses from 1,400 to over 45,000. Over the same period, the rate at which the company employed workers slowed or declined as the company's capacity has also increased due to automation.

The increased use of robotics forces a shift from manual intensive work to workplaces that require human skills that can not be replicated by robots. Rather than monitoring repetitive manufacturing tasks, such as the pick-and-place and assembly processes normally associated with SCARA robots, increased automation can allow employees to manage more complex roles.

America did not shy away from industrial, technological and digital revolutions. As a nation, we can not ignore the growing implications of not adopting modern robots and automated technologies.

TM Robotics, as a distributor of Toshiba Machine's six-axis, Cartesian and SCARA robots, has a keen interest in improving America's perception of automation. But instead of having to fear the rise of the robot, the United States must continue to pursue technology or risk being left behind in the global manufacturing race.

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 The world has hugged robots, should the US do the same?

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