Man VS Machine:Are Robots A threat to jobs


Cobots, or collaborative robots, and humans are increasingly working side-by- side on the manufacturing production line.

Robot butler’s are being introduced at Ford’s car plant in Cologne, taking on tasks considered difficult or repetitive – such as bending and lifting.

Previous production line robots traditionally weigh several tonnes and are fenced off for safety but this new breed of cobot is much lighter and safe to work with.

But how long can man compete with machines that are faster, more accurate and never get tired?

Karl Anton, Director of Vehicle Operations at Ford of Europe, says the debate should not be about man vs machine, but more about the great potential of man and machine working together as  one highly skilled, streamline force.

“Going back to the old English butler, the English butler he looks what his boss likes, what he needs, what the needs are that he can serve him and that’s where we think the robot has a place in our manufacturing world. So we check what are
repetitive works which are sometimes difficult to do, with bending lifting, things like that, and this physically stressful work should be done by a machine and the operator should do the value added basis of it,” Anton said.

At Universal Robots in Denmark, a hub for innovation and the world’s leading cobot producer, pioneering robot arms are being designed and developed.

“That you can actually redeploy robots and move them around and you can say they are very flexible machines is what defines a collaborative robot compared to traditional robots and that’s kind of the new development,” said CTO and Co-founder of Universal Robots, Esben Østergaard.

Østergaard says rather than taking manufacturing jobs away from people, cobots actually create jobs.

“So there’s no doubt robots are changing jobs like technology has always changed jobs,” Østergaard says, “at every time we as humans have introduced new technology to the world is that the world has become richer and in this sense robots are no
different from any other technological innovation over the years.”

The impact of cobots on the production line comes against the backdrop of GMIS – the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit – that’s taking place in Abu Dhabi at the end of March. During this conference, hot topics in
manufacturing, like robotics, Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things and Circular Economies, will be debated by some of the top thought leaders in the world.

Content provided by Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit, via Reuters.

Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at