Cobots and Employee Empowerment in Big Corporations
Published on : Monday 11-12-2023
Workforce augmentation, not replacement, is the mantra as big corporations continue to evolve with the integration of cobots, says KM Sougandh.
Automation and robotics have become integral to modern industries worldwide, revolutionising operations for enhanced productivity and efficiency. However, concerns persist about the potential displacement of human workers, particularly in blue-collar roles, as Industry 4.0 places a greater emphasis on machine utilisation. In reality, Industry 4.0 is reshaping the nature of work, creating more innovative roles that require uniquely human capabilities. While robotics and technology will undoubtedly play an important role in various industries, this shift will not only optimise production processes but also cultivate safer, more enriching work environments for human employees.
Robots are primarily assuming tasks that are dull, dirty, or dangerous – those that pose risks to human safety. By undertaking these responsibilities, robots are transforming workplaces into safer, more pleasant, and healthier environments, while concurrently elevating productivity levels. Industries are gravitating towards a collaborative workspace, wherein humans and robots coexist harmoniously without compromising each other's safety.
Historically, large industries relied on massive, cumbersome robots for various operations. While they bolstered manufacturing capacities, they were accompanied by drawbacks such as high costs, substantial size, specialised personnel requirements, and the necessity for safety fences to protect humans. Advancements in technology and evolving market demands have led to the development of more advanced robots that can seamlessly collaborate with humans without posing safety risks.
Rise of cobots
Collaborative robots, or "cobots," represent a significant advancement in this regard. Engineered to work alongside humans, cobots are adaptable to a wide range of tasks and workspaces, equipped with cutting-edge sensors and sophisticated programming. They are gaining traction across diverse industries, including manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare, redefining work dynamics. Cobots are cost-effective, compact, user-friendly, and versatile. They excel at undertaking repetitive, strenuous, or hazardous tasks, freeing up employees to focus on creative, strategic, and high-value activities. According to Allied Market Research, the global collaborative robot market is projected to reach $27.4 billion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 36.3% from 2023 to 2032.
One of the primary benefits of cobots lies in their capacity to amplify productivity and quality. They excel in tasks demanding precision and consistency, such as manufacturing, assembly, and quality control. By collaborating with cobots, employees attain higher levels of accuracy and output, leading to improved product quality and heightened customer satisfaction—a crucial factor for big corporations aiming to maintain competitiveness.
Empowering Employees through Cobots
Cobots offer employees an opportunity to refine and expand their skill sets rather than rendering them obsolete. With cobots handling monotonous tasks, employees have more time for activities requiring creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking. This not only elevates job satisfaction but also facilitates continuous learning and the acquisition of new skills, augmenting employees' adaptability and value to their respective businesses.
Equipped with sensors and programmed for safety, cobots can operate securely alongside human workers, minimising the risk of workplace accidents. In environments involving perilous or physically demanding tasks, cobots can shoulder the burden, ensuring employee safety.
Cobots in big corporations
The integration of cobots into big corporations exemplifies how technology can empower, rather than replace, employees. Rather than being worried about automation, employees can view it as a tool that enhances their capabilities and provides them with job satisfaction. Employee empowerment, in this context, encompasses comprehensive training. Corporations must invest in programs that equip employees with the skills to operate and collaborate effectively with cobots. The programs ought to include both hard and soft skills like teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills, to prepare workers for changing workplaces.
Big corporations are increasingly recognising that cobots are not a threat, but a valuable addition to their workforce. By leveraging cobots to augment their workforce, they can boost productivity, improve product quality, and reduce costs. This allows employees to focus on more creative and strategic tasks, enhancing their job satisfaction and skill development. Employee empowerment through training, adaptation, and collaboration is pivotal. Striking a balance between automation and humans is the key to a successful and harmonious future of work in big corporations.
As big corporations continue to evolve with the integration of cobots, they serve as a model for the broader business world. Automation does not have to result in job losses; on the contrary, it could act as a catalyst to strengthen workforce capabilities and job satisfaction. By embracing collaborative robots and empowering employees, corporations can thrive in the age of automation while maintaining the human touch that distinguishes them in the market.
Sougandh KM is Country Manager of India, Universal Robots. With more than five years of association with Universal Robots A/S, the global leader in collaborative robot (cobot) technology, Sougandh has helped countless businesses across South Asia to automate their production lines, increase their productivity, and grow their revenues with our innovative cobots.