Why Small & Mid-Size Manufacturers Need to Automate


Small and midsize manufacturers need to automate if they’re going to compete. That's according to industry insider Bob Doyle who discussed the state of the automation industry in a recent interview leading up to Automate 2019 in Chicago.

Doyle is the vice president of the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) as well as the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), which hosts the biennial show that is moving to Detroit in 2021.

Doyle has not only seen small-and-medium sized companies become more successful after they invest in automation, but he’s watched as they hire more people to help with the growth.

According to Doyle, that’s one of the biggest myths about automation, that robots take jobs. He says that it not only creates jobs, but it creates higher paying positions. The investment in technology also helps companies become more efficient and subsequently hire more workers to keep up with growth.

Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, the idea that technology was going to replace people has been an ongoing misconception. According to Doyle, it certainly changes the nature of the work, but those changes lead to jobs that weren’t even conceivable 10 years ago.

In February, the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) announced that robots shipped to North American companies increased seven percent in 2018. What was particularly interesting is that shipments to non-automotive companies are up 41%. Most of the growth came from the food, consumer goods, plastics and rubber, life sciences, and electronics industries.

As robots increase in disparate industries, one common point of confusion is artificial intelligence (AI). According to Doyle, “AI” is almost a fear-mongering term used to describe a dystopian near future in which robots will be making decisions for us. That’s not the case, as he describes it as the use of data to make better business decisions, be it on a manufacturing floor or warehouse.

Doyle also discussed the importance of maintaining a manufacturing base in America. Believe or not, we’re still good at making things in the United States.

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