4 Industries on the Verge of a Robotic Disruption
The idea of robots has loomed over many industries for years. Many laborers fear the onset of technology that would render their jobs unnecessary, and automation may seem to be that career-ending development. But, in many cases, robots aren’t created to strip human workers of their paychecks.
Instead, robots fill the gaps of labor shortages or make humans more effective at their jobs. As such, many industries are on the verge of a robotic disruption; the following four are presumably at the forefront of this change, since they have so many uses for automation and robotic technology.
It may seem as though robotics have no place in healthcare: how can you replace a human touch in an industry dependent on just that? However, advancements in technology have made it possible to animate many tasks in the medical field, from surgery to simple blood tests.
In terms of the former, some surgeons have already begun using a robotic assist from machines like the daVinci. With this device, the surgeon is still in complete control of the procedure, but he or she guides robotic hands to perform it. These robotic hands are more flexible and longer, which makes surgery easier. Plus, they require smaller incisions to reach the area that needs medical attention.
Robots might also find a place in nursing. It may seem impossible, since nurses are often the first face patients see in doctors offices and hospitals. However, this overloads their schedules with necessary, time-consuming and often tedious tasks. This is where robots could eventually come in, perhaps checking vitals and even taking blood. This leaves nurses to do what robots can’t: make split healthcare decisions and do so with empathy.
Looking at the medical industry with a wider lens, robots could have an even bigger role. They could provide the basic medical care that traveling or in-home caretakers would otherwise provide. They can help test medical supplies, such as chemical-resistant clothing, and perform risky cleaning tasks with intense UV lighting. Robots could retrieve medications in pharmacies and hospitals, too, dispensing the proper dosages quickly.
It’s no surprise to hear that robots are going to revolutionize the manufacturing industry. In many ways, they already have — though nothing compared to today’s sleek, quick and clean-running technology, the Industrial Revolution did usher in the idea of automation being cheaper, quicker and safer than human labor.
And, as it’s been years since that revolution, manufacturing has become safer and more efficient. Today’s robots continue to make it even more so, with their main objectives being the reduction of human error and the improvement of safety standards in factories. Take, for example, the automated loading dock. Rather than rely on a human to get the placement of huge, heavy shipping containers exactly right, this technology makes docks safer and more efficient by having a machine control movement.
The industry could see robot managers overseeing millions of manufacturing workers — and this could happen as soon as next year. A Japanese company has also built a prototype of a robot with two arms that can hold objects and cameras for eyes that can inspect products, though that won’t hit the market right away.
Another technology likely to revolutionize manufacturing is 3D printing. Now, many manufacturers ship in parts or create them in-house before piecing them together to build their products. They then ship out the completed product. With 3D printers, though, manufacturers could build their products with a single device and outside of a factory setting, depending on the size of printer needed. This would greatly reduce shipping costs and time.
Automation will also allow many countries to bring their manufacturing operations home, rather than outsource them to countries where labor is cheap and more plentiful. Robots work round-the-clock and don’t require a workplace flooded with light and fresh air, either, giving factories the potential to produce 24/7.
The construction industry is one that has operated in a similar fashion for decades. But welcoming new technology could not only make construction work easier, but also cheaper, thus providing a potential end to the housing crisis.
In terms of the former, some construction companies have begun to embrace the use of drones on construction sites. Drones can provide overhead views of sites for a more accurate report of progress. They can also provide alternative ideas for completing a proposed project, if they find in real time that a particular element won’t be feasibly constructed.
This type of insight has even been used in Japan to guide automated bulldozers through construction projects, too. The flying devices are, in essence, the eyes of the machine, guiding them through buildings to the areas where their power is needed.
As for the housing crisis, some believe 3D printing is the answer. These devices can literally print three-dimensional building materials; one Chinese company has claimed to have built entire homes in a single day. A printer with a large robotic arm could take on such a task, thus producing homes much faster than construction crews.
4. Food Production and Agriculture
There are three main reasons why the agricultural industry is ready for a robotic overhaul: for one, many farms have not turned a profit in several years. Secondly, the cost of labor is on the rise, especially in states like California, where the minimum wage is set to rise. And, finally, other industries are on the brink of automating some or all processes, which means it’s likely the farming industry will eventually be affected by changing times and expectations.
The use of robotics in farming can replace a human touch throughout several phases of production. Some farms have found ways to use machinery to harvest, plant and even weed their fields. With more acceptance of this type of technology, robotics could take an even larger role, especially as more and more farms struggle to find field workers, leaving farmers short-handed and unable to harvest ripe produce on their own.
The Future is Robotic
By looking at these four industries alone, it’s clear that the use of robots will make the world a better place. Whether they’re reducing nurses’ workloads, improving workplace safety, solving the housing crisis or stopping produce from going to waste, machines will do so much good for us. So, rather than fear the potential of robots stealing jobs, remember they’ll be working alongside us in most cases — and that is something to welcome, rather than shun.