Are cobots taking over all the skilled labour positions?

Since the invention of cobots, which are made to work in collaboration with humans, there has been the fear that cobots will eventually take over all the technical jobs in the market. This has seen some people scorn the infiltration of cobots in manufacturing industries, in supermarkets, in the health sector, in schools, in the aviation industry and even in homes. The real question however is, does the future look bleak for humans in finding any work in places that have adapted the cobots innovation?

One of the leading manufacturers of cobots, Universal Robots assures people with such fears that it is not true. Cobots are only here to take over occupations that are highly risky and positions that are easy to automate. They are also here to help staff members carry out their duties without replacing them. Cobots can take over some of the tedious jobs and allow the human staff members to take on other occupations or duties that cannot be automated.

The fact is low skilled jobs may in the long become less. However, this is expected to happen gradually and will not cause major changes. The infiltration of cobots can be compared to the introduction of ATMs in banks. Many people had the fear that, with the introduction of ATMs, many bankers would lose their jobs. The number of bank tellers never went down, and banks still continue to employ people every so often. The same can be said about cobots. People will still retain their jobs and others will continue getting employed to fill up positions that cobots cannot fill.

Are cobots friendly to people?

This is another question that many people would want to know. Cobots are machines, programmed to do as they are directed. How would they have feelings to interact with people? In a past exhibition in Paris, people spent a few hours with collaborative robots and were surprised at how friendly some of them were. Some of them could talk and make very meaningful conversations. They were able to do some amazing clever things too. Another industry incorporating cobots in their work is the real estate. Robots are doing perfect jobs in showing prospects around houses on sale and taking the customers through the processes required to own a home. They do it just like a real estate agent would do. However, there are some questions that the robot will not answer and so the services of a real human estate agent will obviously be worthwhile.

Real reasons behind the cobot innovation

·        Flexibility

Cobots are flexible and can take on any job. One cobot can perform the duties of several human workers.

·        Reduce risks at work places

Some of the jobs are highly risky for humans. Instead of hiring extra people to carry out the risky jobs or buying preventive gear to work on the risky jobs, cobots can take over these while the humans take on less risky jobs.

·        Increase in ROI and quality of products

With cobots, quality of the products improves, and production goes high. this increases the returns on investments and puts the company at an equal or a better competitive edge with other companies.

·        Cuts down on costs

Cobots can work 24/7 for a year or more without taking a rest. Humans on the other hand require breaks during the day and at some point, when they take their annual leaves. Time away costs the company money. They also cut on overheads like leave allowances, extra wages especially for overtime and with cobots, there is less downtime.

Conclusion

What we expect from the cobot manufacturers in future is to see cobots with more appealing and better images. Cobots that are more affordable even if you cannot compare the cost of today’s cobot with old industrial robots. They are cheaper, lighter, more appealing and user friendly. They are not caged like the old robots and can move easily from place to place without interfering with anyone or anything. In short, cobots are allies and not enemies. It is even fun watching them as they work.

 

Author: Chakraborty

Dr Chakrabarty is the Chief Innovation Officer of IntuiComp TeraScience. Earlier she was Assistant Professor of Delhi University, a QS ranked university in India. Before that she has held research positions in IIT Mumbai, IIT Chennai and IISc Bangalore. She holds 2 patents and over 20 research publications in her name which are highly cited. Her area of research is in smart technologies, integrated devices and communications. She also has a penchant for blogging and is an editor of Business Fundas.