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Wealth of Nations : How a new generation of robots is transforming manufacturing

PWC, PWC, 2014년 발간

세부항목 안내표
대분류 키워드 Time Horizon Quality Territorial Scope
Technological ROBOTS 없음 Recommand Global

Report 보고서

요약

Industrial robots are on the verge of revolutionizing manufacturing. As they become smarter, faster and cheaper, they’re being called upon to do more—well beyond traditional repetitive, onerous or even dangerous tasks such as welding and materials handling. They’re taking on more “human” capabilities and traits such as sensing, dexterity, memory, trainability, and object recognition. As a result, they’re taking on more jobs—such as picking and packaging, testing or inspecting products, or assembling minute electronics. In addition, a new generation of  “collaborative” robots ushers in an era shepherding robots out of their cages and literally hand-inhand with human workers who train them through physical demonstration. As costs of advanced robotics continue to fall (from several hundreds of thousands of dollars now to tens of thousands) and applications widen, industries beyond automotive— such as food and beverage—are adding them to their ranks. One major robotics company refers to its new-generation robot as an “intelligent industrial work assistant.”

Presently, there are estimated 1.5 million robots toiling away globally, with about 230,000 in the US alone. Global shipments hit about 180,000 in 2013, an all-time high, with 200,000 forecasted for 2014, estimates the International Federation of Robots (IFR).1,2 Robots have also caught the eyes of investors, such as recent high-profile pure-play robotics investments by Google and Amazon. According to PwC/NVCA MoneyTree Report based on data from Thomson Reuters, US venture capital investment in robotics technology has surged in the last couple of years. 

Executive summary: The R generation

This maturing “R generation” holds myriad implications for the future of manufacturing. Wider adoption of robots comes at a time when manufacturers—both big and small—are under increasing pressures to squeeze even greater productivity from their workforces and when wage arbitrage seems less attractive in some locales, such as China, as it was a decade ago for US manufacturers. Broader adoption of robots may even help to spur greater reshoring of manufacturing from overseas back to the US—or closer to the US market, such as in Mexico. 

And, for small and medium-sized companies, a question is arising sooner than most probably expected: “Is now the time to hire some automated help?”  That question isn’t being prompted only as a result of increased affordability. The nascent age of “nearly human” robots is driving greater efficiencies, and holds promise to reduce labor force injuries. It’s already showing signals of changing how the industrial workforce is composed—and even the very nature of industrial jobs as we now know them. Manufacturers are also finding that being competitive means injecting greater flexibility into their production in order to satisfy consumer demand for products with shorter life cycles and a greater variety of products or variants of existing products, and are tapping robots to help on this front as well. 

All this opens new options, choices and paths for manufacturers. Can robots take on labor in ways that frees up and makes better use of human resources and unleashes innovation? Are there ways robots can be applied in applications that a current workforce is unable to carry out 

(such as those of high precision or force) which will open new opportunities of faster and greater production of existing products—or, perhaps more important, enable altogether new product development?  Are robots an economically viable and realistic solution to the increasing difficulty of securing a sustainable manufacturing workforce? If robots displace employees, are there plans in place to move those employees to other tasks—preferably more interesting and attractive to them and more valuable to the company?

To get a better grasp on how US manufacturers are enlisting robots in their production lines—and future plans—PwC carried out a survey of 120 manufacturers.3 We found that while the majority of respondents have already adopted robotics technology, there still exists real barriers for those which have yet to do so, citing limitations such as cost, the lack of perceived need, and expertise and skills needed to properly exploit them. Highlights from that survey include: • 59% of manufacturers are currently using some sort of robotics technology • 28% believe that replacement of workers will be the biggest impact of robots on the US manufacturing workforce in the next 3–5 years • 35% believe the biggest impact will be the creation of new job opportunities to engineer advanced robots and robotic operating systems • 27% listed “not having a need” as the biggest limitation for not adopting robotics in the next 3–5 years. 

 

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Executive summary: The R generation 1

I. The rise of robots 2

II. Landing new jobs…in new industries 4

III. People and robots: Creating a new kind of 6  manufacturing workforce

IV. Robotics: A path to flexibility and greater competitiveness 10

V. Barriers to widespread adoption: Cost, user-friendliness 12

VI. Robot-ready? A self-assessment of whether robots are for you 13

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