skip to Main Content
Automation Key To US Competitiveness And Reshoring

Automation Key to US Competitiveness and Reshoring

Automation Key to US Competitiveness and Reshoring

Due to the impact of automation and robotics, the World Economic Forum expects 85 million jobs to be disrupted by 2025, while 97 million jobs will be created. We saw similar numbers in the 1990s when the computer boom decimated clerical jobs while creating an entirely new industry of desktops and laptops. During the pandemic, the adoption of automation accelerated. Automation has become a strategic necessity for US manufacturers. It has become a competitive imperative, and it’s the backbone of reshoring. We spoke to Gustavo Sepulveda, process automation business head at Panasonic, about changes in the US manufacturing landscape. Based on shifts in manufacturing over the past year, here are some of the changes he expects to see going forward: Reskilling the workforce will be a priority as manufacturers move skilled labor into higher-value roles. However, to do so, they will also need the automation capabilities that free up these workers and keep manufacturers from falling behind competitively. As such, automation will play a major role in worker safety and manufacturing productivity. With automated processes, fewer physical interactions are possible so workers can stay healthy and manufacturers can ensure they’re continuing to meet demand safely and sustainably. As seen with the pandemic, the U.S. has limited capacity to manufacture products if there is a sudden need. Next year, the demand to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. will continue to be of prominent interest. Related: 6 Keys to Digital Agility in Automation As manufacturers add automation, workforce issues arise. One of the challenges is whether to teach displaced workers to do technically advanced tasks or whether to hire new technicians. “Based on my experience in robotics and automation, companies normally retrain existing workers. Those workers already know the customers, products, priorities, and challenges,” Sepulveda told Design News . “When manufacturers implement automation, they are trying to modernize the current processes with more efficient and safer ones that generate higher quality products. In most cases, the same person can learn to direct a robot to complete the job.” Related: Digital Twin Technology Is a Powerful Tool for Industrial Automation Sepulveda explained that the worker who has been displaced by a robot is likely the best person to direct that robot. “When automating welding processes, the person that programs the robot needs to understand the welding process and all of its parameters,” said Sepulveda. “The best individual to complete and supervise this task is the same person that welds today. Automation has become so intuitive that in most cases, existing workers are retrained for a new task.” Automation Is an Ongoing Process Automation has become a competitive factor, not just a cost saver. To stay competitive, manufacturers need to approach automation as a continuous process. “Decision-makers must maintain an automation and continuous improvement mindset when deciding how the factory should operate in the present and future,” said Sepulveda. “Modernizing and making the process more efficient is a journey that never ends.” Sepulveda expects that effective manufacturers will commit to adding automation as it emerges. “Just because a company implemented new hardware or software today, does not mean it stops looking for more automation in the years to come,” said Sepulveda. “One example is IoT: not long ago, the IoT did not exist, and nowadays, a lot of companies want to implement it with other digital solutions.” Automation Solves Multiple Problems In addition to the return on investment cost savings, automation can take on other issues that are continual challenges to manufacturers. “Since it started decades ago, automation technology has always been about producing with higher quality, more efficiency, and more safety,” said Sepulveda. “Technological companies are constantly developing new equipment, software, and processes that will guarantee that users get more value from automation.” During COVID-19, automation more than proved its worth. Automation helped companies in their flexibility and in their ability to operate with social distances. “One recent challenge automation is helping manufacturers overcome is the pandemic’s impact on work environments and new safety standards that are being developed,” said Sepulveda. “The same could apply to manufacturing productivity: companies need to produce with the maximum throughput to satisfy demand. Automation plays a key role in achieving improved safety and improved productivity.” When Challenged, US Manufacturers Can Move Quickly Adaptability is a virtue for all enterprises. With manufacturing, it’s a necessity. As the US reshore manufacturing in response to the pandemic, automation is the key to success. “I think the US has a lot of strong technology companies that can adapt quickly […]

Click here to view original web page at Automation Key to US Competitiveness and Reshoring

Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

Leave a Reply

Back To Top