One of the most pressing challenges facing the manufacturing industry today is the perceived lack of skilled workers to do the jobs needed on sites. Before the days of automation, companies hired laborers with varying skill sets, from highly skilled all the way to beginners with no work experience.
The automation of many manufacturing jobs caused job losses for workers across the sector. Advancing technology in the form of artificial intelligence to carry on tasks once completed by workers has been a controversial subject, with many weighing out the pros and cons of automation in manufacturing.
Automation has been praised as the number one solution to a purported lack of skills working for manufacturing jobs. Robots are able to perform mundane and repetitive tasks, which in an ideal environment would leave human workers freed up to do the skilled labor. It has also been touted as a way to increase worker safety.
What are the pros and cons of automation in manufacturing?
The biggest pro of automation is no doubt the capital gain associated with eliminating jobs for workers. The other side of that coin being the loss of jobs in working class communities having an adverse effect on the economy as well as a way of life for many families.
Alongside increased efficiency, automation eliminates human error by using machines that are programmed to complete a specific task efficiently and effectively. Conversely, such machines cannot problem solve or complete a variety of tasks if such flexibility is called for on the job.
Manufacturing companies find difficulty in filling the more skilled positions left open after automation. They say there are not enough skilled workers to fill the need. There are a number of solutions to this problem including incentivising young people to go into manufacturing jobs, providing training and education to the emerging workforce and perhaps most importantly, retaining skilled workers already on the job with competitive wages and benefits.