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Introducing Your New Robot Coworker

Skills gap



Published on

Dec 28, 2021

As businesses prepare for success in the upcoming new year, they are rethinking the entire workplace dynamic. By introducing robots into the workplace, machine shops around the world are redefining organizational structure, accomplishment of manufacturing processes, and the entire workplace environment for the better.

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Key Takeaway: Two trends are converging. Labor shortages and skills gaps make it even harder to find qualified workers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported more job openings than people available to fill them in the manufacturing industry. This statistic is based on two burgeoning trends. These trends have been in play for several years, and the pandemic accelerated their growth.

The first factor is the inability to find people. Companies are having difficulty getting candidates of any type. There are not enough people in the workforce to fill all the jobs. The workforce is shrinking at both ends of the age spectrum. Baby boomers are retiring with more damage than just the labor shortage. There is also a brain drain. Baby boomers tended to be skilled workers. When they retire, they take their skills with them.

The second factor is the skills gap. You found someone willing to work. They lack the experience and requisite skills to do the job. That trend is growing rapidly.

The inability to fill these positions is due to the stigma behind manufacturing and its impact on younger generations, along with the inevitable retirement of baby boomers. Common misconceptions surrounding manufacturing jobs have left jobs unfilled and the industry at risk of skyrocketing prices, lower wage growth for the existing workforce, and less global competitiveness.

With these consequences at stake, it is not hard to imagine why many companies are choosing to automate. However, it has become clear that the U.S. has a long way to go before fully automating processes without any need for operator intervention.

John Hitch, Senior Technology Writer for Industry Week, addresses the inevitable “robot invasion” in his article The Great Robot Takeover: Fact or Fiction? Hitch writes, “With a new breed of robots on the market and more sophisticated automation solutions arriving every day, many workers...feel they’re on the front lines of a full-scale robot takeover”. However, “the fact is, robots will take some jobs and create others. And the tech is not that advanced....yet.

Amazon, at the forefront of automation, says it’s at least a decade from fully automating a single order”. The key to the successful integration of automation in a machine shop is to introduce machine operators to their new robot coworkers early, fully understand the investment into robotics, and be open to positive changes in the workplace. As the new year approaches, what better time is there to implement CNC automation on your shop floor?

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