If you’ve been following our blog for awhile, you’ve probably heard us talking about Industry 4.0, also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. It’s the coming age of automation and big data exchange in manufacturing technology. If you look at the current state of manufacturing factories, you will notice that they are more technologically advanced from those of the past. Even 20 years ago, factories looked quite different. Now, we have something called “smart factories,” the factories of the future, which embrace the new digital age of manufacturing to make processes more automated and efficient.
So what does that mean for the future of manufacturing jobs?
While factories have become smarter and more technologically advanced, the number of employees at a factory hasn’t changed as much as you would imagine. But with the rise of robotics in the manufacturing industry, can we expect a change in how factories are staffed in the future?
It might sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but it might not be that out of reach to imagine a world where some manufacturing tasks could be taken over by robots. If you think back to an earlier time, you might recall when more assembly lines were staffed by humans. In the 1960s, advancements in engineering began to use more robots in modern assembly. That wasn’t so long ago!
As a modern-day manufacturing employee, you probably can’t imagine your workplace without some of these robotic helpers. Robotic arms work on automobiles and automated warehouse vehicles navigate shop floors as if with a mind of their own.
But don’t worry! Humans are still needed to work around a lot of these types of robots. Most robots can only do one thing and they can’t think like a human, so they can be very limited at times. However, this may change in the coming years, because of the development of smarter and more integrated machines.
What’s next for robots in manufacturing?
Industry 4.0 predictions say that robots are becoming so advanced that they will actually be able to communicate on a network with their surrounding factory components. Whereas in the past, robots functioned in a way where they would perform a repetitive task alone. Some new robots will be able to sense their surroundings and even make predictions based on data, to act independently in relation to what’s going on in the factory.
It will also become cheaper to use robots, because machines are starting to be able to do multiple jobs. As more diverse machines are integrated, labor costs for manufacturers will decrease. Factories that adopt the new technology will likely employ fewer people and the people they do employ will have to be highly skilled.
Take our advice and seek out training.
If you are looking to further your manufacturing career, consider taking a class or workshop so you can more easily adapt to the changes coming to the industry. Focus on courses that will advance your knowledge of automation and machines in manufacturing. Another route you can take is to look for a mentor in your industry who possesses the knowledge and skills you would like to enhance. Do what you can to keep your digital skills up to date and you will be better prepared as the industry evolves.
Alliance Technical Solutions partners with skilled manufacturers every day to fill their open positions. If you are interested in a skilled manufacturing career, contact us today to find your next opportunity!