Robots have long been part of the factory floor, performing tasks that were deemed repetitive or too dangerous for humans. These industrial robots are typically caged while executing tasks because they can’t interact with humans. Now, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, computer vision, and motion sensing capabilities, robots are collaborating alongside humans. A new generation of robots, known as collaborative robotics or “co-bots”, is working in concert with humans on the factory floor, bringing increased productivity, quality, and efficiency to industrial machinery.
How Do Co-bots Help Manufacturers?
In my conversations with hiring managers, I’ve heard leaders express concern that robots will replace humans and lead to layoffs. Current implementation suggests that’s not the case. Co-bots are making work easier and safer by working in collaboration with humans, not in place of them. In fact, co-bots may even help spur the creation of more, higher paying jobs at manufacturing companies.
Collaborative robots are equipped with far more sensors than their assembly line counterparts. These sensors generate a constant data stream that can be instantly processed with edge computing. Co-bots also have force-limited joints, which can sense forces from impact and react quickly. As a result, co-bots are able to do more jobs, including testing and inspecting products, picking and packaging products, and assembling electronics. Employees can continue to be very hands-on with production– they’ll just have a co-bot by their side.
Preparing for Co-Bots: Hiring the Right Talent
Investing in co-bots is becoming a strategic business imperative. But before companies can take the next step, they need to have the skills in-house to support this new technology. When I advise manufacturers on hiring new talent, I look for a combination of technical and leadership skills to ensure this talent can mentor, train, direct and produce. While there’s no single checklist, the following skills are important for navigating a business transition like co-bots:
- Mechanical engineering background
- Strong communicator with change management experience
- Ability to mentor, train and direct
- Experience with efficiency improvements, process driving, and operational leadership
Navigating a business transition, like the introduction of co-bots, requires the right leadership. For more on sourcing this talent, contact us and we will connect you with a recruiter who can help.