Automation has long been something of a dirty word when it comes to manufacturing—it’s usually assumed that any effort to have machines take over tasks once handled by people is a scheme to put human workers out of a job. However, the current boom in the use of industrial robots to automate production lines isn’t about replacing an existing labor force with a lower-cost substitute. It’s about compensating for a workforce shortage in the manufacturing sector.
According to a 2021 study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, US manufacturing is expected to have 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030. [i] This employment gap in manufacturing could have a potential negative impact on the US economy of more than $1 trillion. With efforts to recruit workers with the right skills unequal to the sheer number of positions needed, companies are increasingly looking for technological solutions for the manufacturing labor crisis.
Major companies are increasingly investing in the development and use of industrial robots to automate production lines. In the first nine months of 2021, North American companies placed $1.48 billion dollars worth of orders for technology needed to automate manufacturing processes. Major companies like Tyson Foods, Hyundai, DHL, and Honda are leading the way in ramping up their use of automation to find new ways to compensate for a lack of labor. According to the Association of Advancing Automation, they’re far from alone; due to “labor shortages throughout manufacturing, logistics, and virtually every industry, companies of all sizes are increasingly turning to robotics and automation to stay productive and competitive.”
But how does that look for small- and medium-sized manufacturers? The solutions available for companies with billions of dollars at their disposal aren’t typically accessible to those with more constrained capital expense budgets. As it so often does, the market has created a solution for this problem. Enter the “robot-as-a-service” (or “machine-as-a-service”) business model.
In a robot-as-a-service arrangement, a smaller manufacturer isn’t required to come up with a huge fee to purchase the industrial machinery they need outright. Instead, the vendor primarily bears the costs of the engineering, installation, maintenance, and support of the equipment. The manufacturer pays a recurring fee for its use, allowing them to gain the benefit of the latest labor-saving technology without a cost-prohibitive initial investment. It also offers businesses the opportunity to scale up or down to respond to the changing needs of their clients and to fluctuating market conditions.
The advantages to companies that might have previously been priced out of the opportunity to automate in any meaningful way are obvious. They avoid the hassle of owning the equipment and realize a return on their investment in upgrading faster, with a predictable subscription-model cost to get started. However, the deployment of these solutions requires knowledgeable engineering and IT talent to support its installation and use. If your company is considering adopting a robot-as-a-service model to take its operations to the next level, Integress can help you put the right professionals in place to keep the arrangement running smoothly.
As a boutique search firm focused on the manufacturing, industrial automation, distribution/materials handling, and IT fields, Integress connects our clients with the right hires to keep their business at the forefront of the technological curve. We’re experienced in finding the exceptional, dedicated specialists you need to help you integrate technology and systems vital for making your manufacturing processes run better and faster.
In the increasingly competitive tech hiring market, finding the right candidate to fit your company’s needs and culture and crafting a convincing offer can be a difficult and time-consuming proposition. Our decades of hiring experience, our knowledge of hiring trends and challenges, and our time-tested process for finding qualified, well-matched people for hard-to-fill roles streamlines the process so you can focus on your core business. To find out more about how Integress can help you find the right hires to support automation in your business, contact us here.