The Human Element In Manufacturing Automation continues to play a larger role throughout the global manufacturing industry. New technologies and a dwindling talent pool have lead industry leaders to rely more heavily on robotics. However, not all manufacturers are excited about the idea of robots stepping in for human employees and some fear a day when automated systems outperform the human workforce.
China Is Building a Robot Army of Model Workers Can China reboot its manufacturing industry—and the global economy—by replacing millions of workers with machines?
Previously the work was done by hand. Inside a large, windowless room in an electronics factory in south Shanghai, about 15 workers are eyeing a small robot arm with frustration.
Near the end of the production line where optical networking equipment is being packed into boxes for shipping, the robot sits motionless. Her team has been testing the robot for the past week.
The machine is meant to place stickers on the boxes containing new routers, and it seemed to have mastered the task quite nicely. But then it suddenly stopped working. Wages in Shanghai have more than doubled in the past seven years, and the company that owns the factory, Cambridge Industries Group, faces fierce competition from increasingly high-tech operations in Germany, Japan, and the United States.
To address both of these problems, CIG wants to replace two-thirds of its 3, workers with machines this year. Most industrial robots have to be extensively programmed, and they will perform a job properly only if everything is positioned just so.
Much of the production work done in Chinese factories requires dexterity, flexibility, and common sense. If a box comes down the line at an odd angle, for instance, a worker has to adjust his or her hand before affixing the label. A few hours later, the same worker might be tasked with affixing a new label to a different kind of box.
And the following day he or she might be moved to another part of the line entirely. Despite the huge challenges, countless manufacturers in China are planning to transform their production processes using robotics and automation at an unprecedented scale.
Human labor in China is no longer as cheap as it once was, especially compared with labor in rival manufacturing hubs growing quickly in Asia. In Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, factory wages can be less than a third of what they are in the urban centers of China. One solution, many manufacturers—and government officials—believe, is to replace human workers with machines.
The results of this effort will be felt globally.
We watch a team of people performing delicate soldering on circuit boards, and another group clicking circuit boards into plastic casings. Wong stops to demonstrate a task that is proving especially hard to automate: As we walk by a row of machines that stamp chips into circuit boards, a wheeled robot roughly the size of a mini-fridge rolls by ferrying components in the other direction.
Wong steps in front of the machine to show me how it will detect him and stop. In another part of the factory, we watch a robot arm grab finished circuit boards from a conveyor belt and place them into a machine that automatically checks their software.
Wong explains that his company is testing a robot that does the soldering work we saw earlier more quickly and reliably than a person. Approximately million people are employed in manufacturing in China in the U. Millions of low-skilled migrant workers found employment in gigantic factories, producing an unimaginable range of products, from socks to servers.
China accounted for just 3 percent of global manufacturing output in For consumers around the world, this manufacturing boom has meant many low-cost products, from affordable iPhones to flat-screen televisions. Wages have increased at a crippling 12 percent per year on average since Chinese exports fell last year for the first time since the financial crisis of China already imports a huge number of industrial robots, but the country lags far behind competitors in the ratio of robots to workers.
In South Korea, for instance, there are robots per 10, workers; in Japan the figure is ; in Germany, ; in the United States it is In China that number is only The Chinese government is keen to change this. The government also plans to create dozens of innovation centers across the country to showcase advanced manufacturing technologies."We are applying robotics engineering and other innovative manufacturing technologies to replace repetitive tasks previously done by employees, and through training, also enable our employees to.
Robots are taking human jobs. But Bill Gates believes that governments should tax companies’ use of them, as a way to at least temporarily slow the spread of automation and to fund other types.
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offers one of the most interactive forms of communication available today by providing the user a personal remote avatar that can be controlled through a simple browser-based interface, with intuitive controls allowing for a truly immersive experience. A robot is a machine—especially one programmable by a computer— capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically.
Robots can be guided by an external control device or the control may be embedded within. Robots may be constructed to take on human form but most robots are machines designed to perform a task with no regard to how they look.
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