Data contained in a new white paper fromThe Association for Advancing Automation (A3)dispels myths perpetrated by the media and a perception that increasing the use of robots causes higher rates of unemployment in the U.S. The white paper,“Robots Fuel the Next Wave of U.S. Productivity and Job Growth,”uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a wide range of manufacturing firms to document how and why increasing the use of robots is associated with increased employment.
Key statistics from the A3 white paper show that during the non-recessionary periods—1996-2000, 2002-2007, and 2010-2014—general employment and robot shipments both increased. Since 2010, the robotics industry in the U.S. has grown substantially. Even during this period of record-breaking robot sales, U.S. employment increased.
“We are seeing concrete shifts in the factors that resulted in cuts to the U.S. manufacturing workforce over the past few decades,” says Jeff Burnstein, President of A3. “Manufacturing automation increasingly provides the flexibility in the variety of tasks robots perform to drive improvements in overall product quality and time to market.
“One of the biggest challenges we now face is closing the skills gap to fill jobs. Robots are optimizing production more than ever, increasing global competitiveness and performing dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks that enable companies to create higher-skilled, better-paying, and safer jobs where people use their brains, not their brawn.”
Notes the paper, as companies seek to bring manufacturing operations stateside while remaining cost-competitive, they continue to turn to automation to help lead the new wave of productivity and job growth in the U.S.
Says Geoff Escalette, CEO of faucet-maker RSS Manufacturing & Phylrich, “The whole premise for our company is to bring manufacturing back to this country, and our new robot fits perfectly with that master plan. Our robot not only makes it possible to increase production speed without buying additional CNC machines, but also helped us open up 30 percent more capacity on existing machinery.”
A3 adds that robotics also help companies stay competitive when seeking new talent—particularly those who are interested in long-lasting careers working with technology. “It’s really an opportunity for us to grow,” reports Matt Tyler, President and CEO of Vickers Engineering, a contract precision engineering manufacturer. “Because we have robotics and are able to compete on a global scale, it makes the U.S. more competitive in manufacturing, and that’s good for all of us.”