Robots Create New, Diverse Jobs and Grow U.S. Manufacturing
As evidenced by the pandemic, manufacturing is critical to the economy of the United States and the well-being of its citizens. But U.S. manufacturers are struggling to fill hundreds of thousands of open positions, some of which are working directly with robots. These “new collar” positions replace the dull, dirty, and dangerous manufacturing jobs of yesteryear.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
On average, the new roles pay about 30% more than entry-level, non-robotics manufacturing jobs and require just slightly more training, although a high school diploma or GED is acceptable to many manufacturers. This creates new opportunities to engage with underrepresented populations in manufacturing, as education is less costly and more accessible. Education options and career pathways are easily discoverable through the ARM Institute’s national resource, RoboticsCareer.org.
The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte found that 4.6 million jobs will need to be filled in the U.S. manufacturing over the next decade, and 2.4 million jobs may be left open due to a lack of trained workers.
“In the past, automation has generated enough new jobs to keep unemployment from rising, by creating demand for complementary jobs and freeing up new spending as goods and services become less expensive. In the future, we can expect new jobs and entirely new sectors of the economy to be created, even if we have no inkling today what those jobs and sectors might be.”
– AFL-CIO Commission on the Future of Work and Unions, Sept 2019
“The number one driver for automation is the labor shortage in manufacturing,” said Joe Campbell, a senior manager for applications development at Universal Robots, a unit of Massachusetts-based Teradyne Inc. (TER.O), which specializes in cobots. And the pandemic is not the only factor driving the change. Universal estimates 2,000 Baby Boomers are retiring daily in manufacturing, robbing factory floors of veteran expertise.”
Real Case Study
Headquartered in Charleroi, PA, DMI Companies manufactures sheet metal HVAC systems, components, and accessories for the commercial and industrial construction industry and now has three robots in their factories across the United States. Facing increased demand and accompanying production costs, DMI installed their first robot in 2016; a palletizing robot that increased production efficiency and reduced costs by 32%. The newest robots pick, package, and stack heavy-end items off the production line, reducing worker fatigue and potential repetitive-motion injuries.
The addition of robots at DMI has required the company to develop a level of technical competence and support by upskilling current employees, hiring new production workers to backfill these positions, and hiring new skilled labor and engineers to keep pace with the increased productivity. The company is looking to expand robotic applications to further offset workforce sourcing challenges, increased operating costs, and to continue to increase productivity.
The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute is sponsored by the Department of Defense and catalyzes innovations in robotic technology and workforce development to strengthen U.S. manufacturing. The ARM Institute created Roboticscareers.org to connect workers and employers with vetted training opportunities, increase awareness of the career pathways for robotics in manufacturing and endorse the most relevant and effective training programs.