The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe concluded in its 2003 Robotics Survey that robots are among the worlds most in demand commodities. Sectors demanding robots include industrial plants, science and technology, research, medicine and household work. Growth rates for sales in 2003 reached 35% in North America, 25% in Europe and 18% in Asia.
Robots in the manufacturing industry have been equated as the number of robots per 10,000 workers. In the motor manufacturing, it can be predicted to have 1 robot as replacement for 10 workers. This brings us to the level of competency and accuracy in terms of jobs done by robots and by human workers.
Robots have been employed in application from food to automobiles. Japan has been the leading country in utilizing robots, however in 2003 the United States spent $877 million in buying robots for material handling in factories. The automotive industry has used C flexrobots for odd and dangerous jobs before but now even the simplest tasks such as installation and welding are being automated.
Industry sectors employing robots
In food manufacturing and assembly, Adept Robots, can make 75 to 125 Oreo cookies a minutes. For the service industry, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) have taken over the role of a cashier in banks. In restaurants, the self service check out machine is beginning to be a familiar sight.
In the health service sector, experiments on robotic companion to assist the elderly in home for the aged and in hospitals are under way. They are equipped with a real time video feed that is transmitted among the nurses, patients and physicians.
Soon enough warehouse stores will be using radio frequency tags so that robots can drop off or store items. Carnegie Mellon University prides itself in the development of the very first robot receptionist. It can sense motion and greet visitors while the Asimo Honda model had been in development to replace office clerks, leaving humans to do supervisory and administrative tasks.
New robots for the pulp and the paper mills industry are also being developed. These totally eliminate the need for human labor with its precision control and smooth movement. The whole system is currently being used in the largest operating paper converter in the North America.
A new virtual training system for welders has been launched recently, and this will eliminate manual training and will provide a fresh and modern approach to welders. As the area of manufacturing has been concentrating in high end products like luxury cars, the introduction of these virtual welding modules will increase the number of highly trained professionals in the manufacturing industry.
Stealing Jobs from Humans
However, humanoids taking over human jobs have been a subject of protests all over the world. The Luddism movement which started out in England advocates anti automation of jobs. Its founder, Ned Lud was known to have destroyed weaving machines that were starting to replace human workers. Truly, it can be inferred that a robotic manufacturing economy will lead to massive lay offs and replacements of workers.
Robotics versus Outsourcing
Choosing robots over outsourcing has also been a dilemma for manufacturers when reduction of expenses and increase productivity is being considered. Outsourcing a manufacturing facility overseas must take into account labor force training, intellectual property protection among others. Through robotics however, the cost of labor is reduced and the quality standard is maintained.