Here’s a quick look at five recent headlines, shedding light on the state of manufacturing, automation and the way robots are being used to overcome obstacles on the job in Germany, Japan, China, the UK, and the U.S.
In 2016, China installed 90,000 new robots. That’s up 30 percent from the previous year and represents over 33 percent of the world total. By 2019, that number is expected to top 40 percent. The largest beneficiary of all this robot buying is Japan. In the first three months of 2017, Japanese robot shipments spiked to $410 million—a number unrivaled since 2010’s global financial crisis. via Asian Robotics Review
“We have got great competition from overseas and that will increase, that is not going away. One of the biggest challenges is our productivity. We are employing lots of people but we’re not being as productive as our major competitors.” -Mike Wilson of the British Automation and Robot Association (Bara), via Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Hundreds of orange robots will traverse the vast aisles of Amazon’s coming fulfillment center in north Houston, dramatically speeding up the amount of inventory prepared for shipping each day. But these machines are no job killers. The online retail giant on Tuesday also increased the number of human jobs it expects to add in its effort to meet growing demand and hasten delivery throughout the region. via Houston Chronicle
Japan and Germany may be sitting on a ticking demographic time bomb where aging populations begin to drag down economic growth. Good thing they’re also prime candidates for robot revolutions. Increased automation and more use of robotic technology in these manufacturing powerhouses could help cushion the impact, according to Moody’s Investors Service. via IndustryWeek
Nothing provokes a firestorm quite like a discussion on robots and their impact on employment. Bill Gates thinks we should tax them; Elon Musk is starting a new venture to develop a symbiotic digital layer to the human brain. The conversation we are not having, however, is how existing AI is able to create, not eliminate, jobs. Nowhere is this more evident than in advanced manufacturing where AI can improve the precision and speed of production that maximize the skills of machinist, enhancing their competitiveness on the global market. via VentureBeat
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About the Author
I'm Jeff Green, senior content and social media strategist at Rethink Robotics. When I'm not socializing Sawyer and Baxter, our smart, collaborative robots, I'm usually caught up in the home tornado, also known as my three kids. Love them, my wife, old-school Chinese food, movies, and of course game-changing technology.