Will COVID-19 Increase Automation Anxiety In Manufacturing Jobs?

Here Keith Tilley, CEO, Intoware explains how new technologies won’t take jobs, but they’ll create them.

COVID-19 requires people to stay at home and with jobless claims rising as the world’s economy shrinks, automation anxiety is set to rise again. So how will those that work in manufacturing fare when they go back to work?

Manufacturers will be keen to ‘pandemic-proof’ their operations particularly as recession looms. This means that finding new ways to be more productive and cost-efficient has never been greater, particularly as consumers will search for cheaper goods as times get harder.

As demand for greater automation is set to accelerate, does it mean that robots will put jobs at risk? A recent analysis from Oxford Economics states, that ‘up to 20 million manufacturing jobs around the world could be replaced by robots by 2030.’ But this report also states that productivity from automation should boost growth, meaning as many jobs will be created as lost, but how?

Streamlining Business Processes

To understand how this is possible we need to consider the role of workflow automation in manufacturing and how when it is combined with robotic process automation (RPA) it can deliver real digital transformation returns.

Streamlining your business process is the major benefit of workflow automation, our WorkfloPlus platform for example, guides employees through a process from beginning to end to increase efficiency. It works on both mobile (Android and iOS) and wearable technology (such as Realware HMT)

It can replace paper-driven processes or be used to design new processes, executing them across systems and people, managing tasks and using data capture output for continual data analytics that drive on-going improvement for optimal productivity and efficiency.

This means both employees and customers will benefit, as the ability to digitise information is spurring on redesigns of ‘end-to-end’ processes, improving the customer experience and creating more efficient operations.

WorkfloPlus actually empowers employees, we do not replace them as we tend to be involved in those processes that cannot be automated by robots either physically or financially.

Improving Accuracy

With advanced workflow technologies, it is now possible to harness robotic process automation (RPA), this means a robot or bot can cover an individual task in your business processes, usually mundane, repetitive work with greater accuracy.

While WorkfloPlus and RPA are both distinct in their own right, they can work together harmoniously, to provide a powerful platform that enables digital transformation throughout the business. Thereby giving exponential productivity improvement per employee with both increased safety and decreased risk.

So How Does This Benefit Employees?

A major benefit of automation is that employees don’t have to spend time on these repetitive tasks and aren’t frustrated by slow processes, they feel more satisfied, invested and more engaged in their work as they are freed up for higher-value tasks.

A connected workforce using solutions such as WorkfloPLus means you have employees who are more focused and productive as a result, working with technology and not in fear of it, which is better for business. It becomes more critical, therefore, that businesses invest in their workers through technology and retraining.

We must remember too that businesses processes require human involvement, even Tesla, a beacon of technology advancement in car manufacturing, famously drafted in humans as robots had slowed down its Tesla 3 production, ‘In a delicious turn of fate Elon Musk has put robots the world over on notice…… he replaced the highly touted automation system at Tesla with a better, more intelligent paradigm: humans’….. Elon himself was quoted as saying, “Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.”

Automation fears are often overstated, the reality is that some jobs may be lost, but automation technologies will create many more that will not only be more rewarding for employees but will enable manufacturers to be more agile and profitable.


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