4 Companies Where Robots Created More Jobs




From the moment automation became a real possibility workers were concerned their jobs would be on the line.  Those feelings continue if you consider some of the recent polling data on the subject.

According to the Pew Research Company, Americans don’t like the look of the future when it comes to robotics. They are growing more concerned with the elimination of jobs as more robotic workers are ‘hired’ so to speak.

Pew asked respondents if they were more worried or optimistic about potential automation developments. Those included:

  • Future where robots and computers can do many human jobs
  • Development of algorithms that can evaluate and hire job candidates
  • Development of driverless vehicles
  • Development of robot caregivers for older adults

Looking at their data, respondents were more worried than enthusiastic about the first two situations, but that’s not the case for the third and fourth scenarios as seen in the Pew diagram seen below.

pew automation survey graphic

Price Waterhouse Cooper says 38% of US jobs could be lost to automation by the early 2030s. The sectors most impacted: transportation and storage, manufacturing, and wholesale and resale. Health and social work sectors seem to be at a lower risk.

Not all studies, however, indicate dire news in automation.

The International Data Corporation, or IDC, reports spending on robotics will reach $135.4 billion by 2019. That’s up a whopping $71 billion from just two years ago. $32 billion of that accounts for services in training, deployment, integration, and consulting. This translates to new jobs.

To further drive this point home, in the United Kingdom automation has destroyed 800,000 lower-skilled service jobs over a 15 year period, but has created 3.5 million higher-skilled jobs in their place.

As noted previously, the question around automation has almost always been whether robots would be used to help workers or replace them.  Today, the question is a bit more focused:  in which industries will robots help both employer and employee?

Hand on the control panel of a programmable machine

According to the Wall Street Journal, the companies that can “assign repetitive, precise tasks to robots, freeing human workers to undertake creative, problem-solving duties that machines aren’t very good at,” will succeed in balancing the equation between man and machine.  Furthermore, the article points out that manufacturing, the food service sector and service sectors will be best suited to accomplish this.

Robots Created Jobs

So, which companies are creating these jobs?

1.    Bosch

Last year, Bosch looked to hire 20,000 new hires at its plant near Stuttgart, Germany.  The hires were a mix of new positions and replacement staff.  The company makes steering controls.  To help keep up with demand, Bosch turned to automation to increase output.  Since 2011, the company has brought its armada of robots from zero up to 140.

Before automation, employees would remove scalding-hot auto parts from an oven for inspection.  Now, the retrieval of those pieces is handled by robots and humans are left to inspect the parts.  This has led to a 20% increase in inspections.

2.    BMW

BMW automates some of its processes at its Spartanburg, South Carolina plant.  Before the introduction of automation, the plant employed 4,200 workers.  That number has risen to 10,000.  The company says adding robots to do repetitive tasks has allowed human workers to heighten quality control inspections.

Robots, for instance, fit black, soundproofing rubber tubes to the inner rim of car doors.  Humans do the final checks to make sure the tube was placed properly.  Doing so has doubled annual car production at the plant.

3.    Fiskars

In 2007, Fiskars employed 4,515 workers.  That number has since risen to 8,560.  Fiskars manufactures scissors.  The company began using robots to increase its output at its Helsinki plant.

Originally, the plant forged steel blades by hand in 2,700-degree furnaces.  Now, robots have taken over that task leaving humans to quality control and test the blades, specifically to make sure the blades make the right “snip” sound.  If not, human workers can adjust the blades bit by bit, something the robots cannot do.

4.     Electrolux

Electrolux increased its workforce by 2,000 between 2011 an 2017.

The company has automated production of washing machines and other devices.  It has freed up technicians to spend more time on creative tasks that automation can’t recreate.  An Example would be designing and implementing changes to the factory floor and robot layout to increase efficiency.  Electrolux has also tweaked its hiring and training practices to increase the number of employees able to successfully operate its robotic workforce.

When Robots Fail

While the above examples show ways in which automation has benefited a company, there are instances where automation has not been executed well.

Look no further than Tesla.

The company has been unable to balance its use of robotics at its Fremont, California plant.  That’s where the Model 3 car is produced.  Tesla has automated welding, paint and body work processes, which is not unusual.  What is unusual is the automation of final assembly work.  Errors in that process have slowed down production of the car.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, tweeted in response, “Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake… Humans are underrated.”