“Of course our workforce has been worried about their position in the factory but we have been able to locate more tasks for them, and actually we have been able to grow the workforce number during that last three years where we have automated many processes.” said Jari Isatolo, Business Director at Stera Turku. Therefore, it’s negative headlines that could threaten to overshadow the very real, positive contribution of automation and robotics to productivity, competitiveness and job creation.
Human workers can benefit tremendously from robotic help and with the MiR robots’ world class safety features there really isn’t a reason why AMRs and humans shouldn’t work harmoniously together. A key to acceptance is open communication with employees about what tasks the robots will take on, and what tasks they will not. Consider investing in the training and upskilling of your employees who can take on more challenging opportunities than laboriously moving stuff from A to B.
Plan for the change
Honeywell Analytics in Poole, UK, is a manufacturer focusing on lean production. A MiR robot was implemented to push carts, a task previously undergone by humans. Design Engineer Timothy Ward explains the considerations they made about the human workforce when AMRs were implemented.
“We wanted staff to get back onto the production line and drive efficiency. By bringing the MiR robots on-site, we freed up six full-time staff members to produce more, and make the line more efficient.” Freeing employees from low-value material-transportation tasks also supports other lean manufacturing goals, including the ability to have multi-skilled staff who can work on a variety of production lines as needed.
“We like to have staff that can be multi-trained and multi-skilled so they can work in different parts of the business and help level-load the product,” Ward said.