US takes robot record

The US automotive industry has installed a new record of approximately 17,500 industrial robots in 2016.

In the last seven years, the operational stock increased by about 52,000 units (2010-2016). These are preliminary results published by the Statistical Department of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

During the same period, the number of jobs in the US automotive sector rose by 260,600 – according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

‘The main driving force of this growth is the ongoing trend to automate production in order to strengthen the competitiveness of American industry globally, to keep manufacturing at home, and in some cases bring back manufacturing that had previously been outsourced to other countries,’ said Joe Gemma, president of the International Federation of Robotics at the World Robotics IFR CEO Roundtable in Chicago.

‘The key message is the optimism about jobs in the future – especially with technology,’ said Jon Battles, Amazon director, WW engineering advanced technologies. ‘We are so proud of announcing that we are going to create a hundred thousand new fulltime and full benefit jobs in the United States. These jobs are all across the country. I want to make a really critical point: We are doing this level of hiring after installing 45,000 Amazon robotic systems in our fulfillment centers. I don´t have any better success story to give than that and we a hiring in every job class and level.’

Prof Dr Howie Choset of the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute (ARM) emphasised the importance of automation with robots for small companies. Ninety eight and a half percent of all the manufacturing companies in the US have 500 or fewer employees. ‘These small companies – this is their phrase not mine – automate or vaporate. They know if they don´t embrace automation they will not be around in the future.’

‘We have about 8 million baby boomers exiting the workforce over the next five to 10 years,’ said Amazon´s Jon Battles. ‘It turns out the baby boomers are the most industrial trained part of the US workforce. We are heading towards a gap and I hope we all internalize the importance of inspiring this young generation coming up, retraining the people we have, giving them a great vision for careers in the future and following through on that. I am very optimistic about the future and the jobs and the technology. As long as we embrace it and train for it correctly we have an awesome future.’

The IFR strongly supports the idea that education and training systems must be adapted to enable current and future workers to reap the benefits of robotics. This task falls to both public and private sectors and requires strong cooperation between the two.