Hand in (bionic) hand
The manufacturing industry has always focused on innovation to fuel progression, introducing revolutionising technologies that have led the automotive world into the digitisation era we see in front of us today. Software has significantly improved efficiency and reduced costs through such things as warehouse robotics, informatics and autonomous systems, which has made life alot easier for manufacturers - almost a little too easy. As software continues to develop in manufacturing, the need for humans will further decrease, which will create a serious problem down the line on a global scale. So it is important that, while we continue to research and develop innovative processes, we implement them to complement a human workforce, rather than replace them entirely.
If you have ever visited a manufacturing facility, especially one of an OEM, you will know how proud and committed their workforces are, from the line workers right through to senior site managers. This is reflected in the production results, with employees sharing the same desire to beat competitors as the top-tier executives do, celebrating production records and anniversaries with the rest of the company. Manufacturing has and still continues to present countless job opportunities for many different regions around the world - look at the Northern Powerhouse in the UK for example - so it is vital that, while we must progress through such technology as robotics, we remain loyal to those who work day in and day out for these companies. Simply put, collaboration is vital for success.
In addition, although advanced technology can improve manufacturing processes, human skills will remain essential for a whole range of tasks found within a factory, which further stresses the importance of collaboration between man and machine. Automakers and component manufacturers now understand this and are implementing structures that focus on collaboration within facilities, developing industrial robots that work alongside humans and introducing innovative wearables such as smart glasses and gloves to aid labour. This has led to a completely redesigned manufacturing environment, where robotics are integrated into the production around the worker. On the other hand, these workers will have to adapt to these changes and, more importantly, be eager to adopt the technology that is presented to them. By harmonising new software with its workforce, businesses can achieve efficient manufacturing while still providing growth and employment opportunities in the area.
Alex Kreetzer - News Editor
Simon Duval Smith
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