The factory in Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, where humans are doomed to perform repetitive labor-intensive tasks, has come to an end. But there is a simultaneous rallying cry to stop the incessant automation of production processes that are pushing humans out of factories. That said, the circumstances are different depending on the country. Some need labor and some have shifting demographics that create a need for jobs.
What is the solution?
We believe in restructuring industrial plants to revolve around people with collaborative stations that are only partly automated. It is a way to secure the development of a company's long-term growth, but also to ensure a lasting capacity for innovation.
So, the factory of the future is a breakthrough for the trades that offers:
- New professions and skills working with new processes and materials (additive manufacturing, composites, etc.)
- New working methods and organizations to accommodate new technologies like digital (mobile devices, 3D tools, augmented reality, etc.) and cobotics (human-robot cooperation)
Operators will need to relate differently to machines, which will take on the burden of manual labor, and direct them to find information, complete tasks, and inspect and assemble parts. Training will be the key...
These technologies are also converging to make factories more attractive and give rise to higher skilled jobs. By freeing operators from strenuous tasks and using robots do those jobs, they will keep their creative edge and have the final say on product quality.