I grew up watching reruns of The Jetson’s and wishing that our family had a Rosie the Robot.
Today, we can buy a Roomba to vacuum, an Alexa to help us with the grocery shopping and control lights, locks and alarms, and the Robomow, a robot that mows the lawn (my least favorite chore). They may not look like Rosie, but slowly, this technology is starting to act a whole lot like the robot I loved to watch on Saturday morning.
It’s not just our domestic lives that are being turned upside down. Most business leaders around the world believe that robotic process automation (RPA) - software that can perform repetitive, high-volume tasks - will be widespread within a year or two according to a recent Deloitte survey. But, rather than replace employees, RPA will work alongside people at ‘no-collar jobs.’
In fact, just 20 percent of HR leaders surveyed indicated that implementing new technologies, like automation, would result in job loss. More than 77 percent said that they plan to “either retrain people to use new technologies or will redesign jobs to better take advantage of human skills.”
Many Fortune 500 companies and large manufacturers are already implementing RPA and automation, and taking advantage of the benefits that a no-collar workplace offers people:
- Enhanced role specialization: People will have a more narrow, specialized skill set that prepares them to compete in the workforce of the future and doesn’t include the boring, repetitive and often tiring tasks that RPA, or in the case of manufacturing, light automation, can help them perform.
- Improved decision making: Instead of asking them to perform a repetitive motion AND only solve a problem when something goes wrong, ask people to focus on continuous improvement and problem solving all the time. Results and productivity will improve, and your workforce will make better decisions when problems do occur.
- Increased productivity, innovation and efficiency: Robots are better than people at precision, reaction time, computation, pattern recognition, condition monitoring and stamina to name a few. People are better than robots at complex problem-solving, empathy, understanding ambiguity, critical thinking, creativity, fine manual dexterity, category flexibility, and much more. Let’s focus on how robots and people can collaborate to achieve better results by doing the tasks that they do best.
Automation can be scary, but implementing smart solutions that solve a pressing need and unleash the potential of people to improve productivity is a huge benefit to the manufacturing workforce. Not only will it make many traditional manufacturing jobs more interesting, it will help ensure that those jobs are still around in the years to come. Because while I love Rosie the Robot, I want to build a future where she works next to Rosie the Riveter.
Kristen Johnson, Communications and Marketing Lead