Robots vs. Humans in Smart Manufacturing
Will the fourth industrial revolution quickly bring about zero labor factories, or will humans continue to play an integral role in production?
Will machines take the place of people in factories? This is one of the questions most frequently asked about Smart Manufacturing. Why? Because for many years the prevalent belief has been that business competitiveness is primarily achieved by reducing the cost of labor. And robots have long been viewed as the solution to the problem of labor costs.
But if we now look at modern factories, they are very different from those of 20 years ago. From an employment point of view, however, the total number of employees in factories today is not significantly different than it was two decades ago. Factory employment did not decrease as many futuristic forecasts had suggested. What changed was the distribution of personnel between various business roles.
Now, with the rise of robots, can we expect a similar transformation in the age of Smart Manufacturing—a transformation foreseen as so radical to be called the fourth industrial revolution? Or will certain aspects of this technological and socio-economic transformation lead to a very different evolution from the ones seen in the past?
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