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The Rise of Cobots Spurs New Job Opportunities
August 17, 2020 Blog


By: Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots

The invasion of machinery is seen across many different factories and functions. As advancement in machinery improves, people are concerned about the future of work but at the same time, industrialisation created new jobs for factories. Now, collaborative robots (cobots) are making great leaps, conquering new job creation fields by fueling the growing need for skilled labour in the robot industry. The explosive growth in the robot industry has accelerated the demand for skilled people, challenging many robotic companies in their recruitment efforts.

Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots shares his thoughts on how cobots benefit businesses and results in significant job creation.


When can businesses start considering cobots on a digital transformation journey?

The maturity of a business is not a significant factor to determine whether a business is ready to bring in cobots since cobots are easy to use and easy to set up. Typically, when humans are involved in either dirty, dull, or dangerous activities, that is the time to search for an option to fill the gap. Business owners should help humans to work with high evaluative tasks and remove them from dangerous tasks. For instance, a simple pick and place task can be performed by either humans or cobots. The task can be very dull and repetitive for humans but there will be an upshift in the output when cobots are involved. Cobots relieve humans from strenuous and repetitive tasks so that they can take on better roles within the business.

One company that relies heavily on the ability to free human labour from dull and dirty tasks is Hyundae Induction Hardening Heat Treatment (HIHHT) in Korea. HIHHT seeks for solutions to address the rising labour costs while easing human operators’ workload and fatigue due to repetitive tasks. After deploying two UR10 robots, the failure rate decreased from 0.03 per cent to 0.01 per cent and production efficiency increased by 31 per cent. The UR10 robots free human labour from simple repetitive tasks, allowing flexible re-allocations. As a small and medium-sized enterprise with limited resources, HIHHT was able to control production cost, increase product quality and hire two more employees.


Are cobots or automation suitable for all types of businesses?

There are extreme conditions that cobots are not particularly designed for and there might be limitations in some type of equipment. However, the majority of the markets have utilised cobots now. In fact, Universal Robots has sold more than 46,000 cobots which are used in several thousand production environments. Singapore is on the front-foot for implementing cobots or new technologies in both industrial and non-industrial applications.

In the current 4th Industrial Revolution, business owners are adopting latest technologies which include the man-machine collaboration. The new era of super-productivity has arisen. Humans are sharing their workload with cobots in an effort to skyrocket productivity and efficiency. Business owners are encouraged to implement collaborative automation to promote the democratisation of technology.


Is it true that cobots create new jobs?

The major focus of Universal Robots is to keep humans in labour throughout any application development. Cobots are designed to work alongside humans whereas traditional robots are designed to work specifically behind cages. Even with artificial intelligence and modern vision systems, robots are not as intuitive as humans. The fact is that cobots make use of the cognitive ability of humans which provides a higher efficiency rate as compared to when robots and humans work singularly. Human talents remain significant and human labour will not be replaced by cobots.

Business owners consider both the feasibility of the application and the return of investment (ROI) to determine if the application makes sense from a business perspective. Cobots provides the financial benefit that offsets the cost of setting up the application. Placing cobots alongside humans increases productivity and efficiency which allows businesses to see a fast return of investment. Eventually, business owners find themselves in a position to hire more human workers.

Collaborative robots have gained widespread attention and are used in many industries within the modern world. The role of machines is shifting from replacing humans to complementing humans’ skills and opening door to a multitude of benefits in terms of quality, efficiency and even ergonomics. The man-machine collaboration is paving the way to unparalleled productivity enhancement across industries, ranging from automotive to even healthcare now.