This article takes us through the advantages and disadvantages of using Robots in business specifically here in Kenya. Robotic automation is growing in popularity across many industries and sectors in Kenya and across the world and this popularity looks set to continue as businesses take full advantage of the benefits.
More manufacturers are investing in robotic technology but not everyone is convinced of those benefits. Some people are cautious about how existing processes will be adapted and the consequences of doing it. And there are some very reasonable objections but mainly from those who have not yet tried the technology for themselves.
Advantages of Using Robots
Cost-Effectiveness – robots need no breaks, no holidays, no sick leave and they don’t need to work shifts. They can work repetitive cycles and, so long as they are kept maintained, they can continue until their programming is changed.
This benefits human workers – when they no longer have to do such repetitive work, they are no longer at risk of RSI or other work-related injuries. An increase in production at a much-reduced cost brings about some obvious benefits and the investment cost can easily be recouped quite quickly; from then on, the gains are fast.
Better Quality Assurance – very few workers are happy doing repetitive work and, after a while, their levels of concentration start to wane. Not only does this lead to the potential for expensive errors, but it can also lead to the potential for injury.
By using robotic automation, these risks are eliminated because items are accurately produced and checked to ensure the required standard is met without fail. More products are manufactured at a much higher standard and these create no end of new possibilities that companies can expand on.
An Increase in Productivity – when repetitive tasks are automated, it leads to a definite increase in productivity. Robots are designed specifically for repetitive movement where humans are not.
By taking repetitive work away from employees, we give them the opportunity to expand their skills into other areas of work and this creates a much better environment that everyone can benefit from. They will have higher levels of energy and will focus better on their work – not only do the robots increase productivity, so will happier employees.
Hazardous Work – quite aside from the risk of potential injury, some employees need to work in hazardous or unstable environments. For example, underwater, in areas where there are high levels of chemicals, in space and so on. Using robots to do these jobs minimizes the risks because they can work without sustaining injury or harm.
Industries where employees are required to work in extremely low or high temperatures tend to see a high turnover in human resources. Using automated robots minimizes the risk of material waste and takes away the risks to humans.
Disadvantages of Using Robots
The Potential for Job Losses – this is one of the biggest issues and concerns surrounding robotic automation. If robots can work faster and more accurately, it is feared that humans may become redundant. However, while these fears are entirely understandable, they are not terribly accurate.
The same thing was predicted for the industrial revolution and, as we can see from history, it never happened. Indeed, humans went on to play a very important role. We only have to look at Amazon to see one of the best examples – during a period where they increase their robots from 1,000 to more than 45,000 their employment rate has also risen.
Initial Investment – this is quite possibly one of the largest obstacles that will determine whether a company makes the investment in robotic automation or whether they will wait. Before any company can consider it, they must build a comprehensive and solid business case around the pros and cons of implementation.
While the return on investment (ROI) can be significant and they can happen quite quickly, it does require a substantial amount of cash flow in the first instance and it must be considered whether it is worth risking company stability if the returns cannot be guaranteed.
However, most of the time repayment schedules are available and this makes it much more affordable and easier for finances to be controlled. Something else to consider is the increase in output and the reduction in poor workmanship when deciding whether automation should be employed or not.
Hiring Skilled Staff – over the last 10 years, manufacturers have found it much harder to find skilled people to take on specialized jobs. Automation just adds to that problem because robots need to be programmed and they need to be operated too.
But this opens even more opportunities for employees to be trained up and to boost their own skills. Automation providers can easily help with installation and setup and, so long as the staff has the correct skills, they can learn to manage the robots.