Canadian Manufacturing recently reported that robotics companies throughout North America are experiencing record sales, with a 1.9% increase over 2012 at over $679 million through the first six months of the year. As you are likely aware, the use of industrial robotics has been widely contested in recent years, with many claiming that the technology is taking jobs from hard-working citizens. The reality, however, is that automation and industrial robotics are helping create jobs.
Advancing technology to better perform a task is not a new concept. In the early 1950’s, there were thousands of elevator operators employed in Canada. As the technology in elevators improved and issues were resolved, the need for this occupation diminished – to the point that there were zero recorded elevator operators working in 2006.
Likewise, there are professions today that didn’t exist in the year 2000, let alone the 1950’s. Ten years ago, if you told someone you had a job interview for a social media manager, app designer or windfarm engineer, they would have thought you were crazy – the professions simply didn’t exist. And the reason they do today is because of advancing technology.
The point here is that the mindset that industrial robots will take jobs away is simply not true. For the most part, industrial robots remove the operator from a dangerous work zone, allowing him/her to dedicate time elsewhere (rather than removing them from the job entirely). In the rare case that robotic technology does eliminate the need for an employee, it is not a trend we need to be concerned with, but rather the natural progression of technology and human profession.
The fact that robotic sales throughout North America have hit a record high is not a discouraging statistic, but an exciting one. It is through this technology that we will be able sustain domestic manufacturing, create jobs (up to 1.5 million of them) and build the economy.