Automation Increases Productivity, Allowing Companies to Hire More Employees

CNC Strategic Communications Specialist

A rosy job market has employers facing challenges in hiring workers with specific skill sets required to succeed in various positions. More than 80 percent of companies report struggling to find talent, according to the Society for Human Resources Management.

An aging population has created scarcity in the labor pool. When this reality is combined with a job market that’s performing better than it has in five decades—with jobs added every month for a record 107 consecutive months, as of August 2019—companies across the United States are taxed in finding the right workers for their positions.

Automation solutions such as robots, CNC systems, and related tools have penetrated the workplace since the 1960s, and they’re being embraced all the more in recent years as company owners seek to maximize productivity and efficiency. Robots and the programming they require to complete actions have improved dramatically in the past decade.

Today’s shallow labor pool is also helping serve as a driving force for the adoption of greater amounts of automation solutions in the workplace.

Are Jobs Lost to Automation?

There continues to be some negativity about robots and automation taking jobs away from people—especially those who lack skills, experience, training—feeding the unemployment rate.  An increasing number of people now realize, however, this belief is a myth and have come to appreciate the wide range of benefits that automation provides. These proponents of automation demonstrate that, as robots and automation are used in manufacturing workplaces, the number of jobs actually increases. More jobs are created because productivity elevates, thanks to marked efficiencies directly related to automation.

New Jobs Created by Automation

In many workplaces, employees engaged in manual labor whose positions are eliminated may even benefit from automation. These employees can be trained to operate the robots and other automation technologies used in their workplaces. In these cases, the jobs lost to automation are resurrected in the form of new jobs created by automation.

In some industries, new jobs created by automation can turn out to be a boon for employees. Take the automotive industry, for example, which FANUC, the world’s leading supplier of robots, CNC systems and factory automation, has helped revolutionize. A longtime challenge in the auto industry has been safety concerns of its employees on the assembly line floor. Employees can be injured by using equipment or handling materials and also become sickened from breathing in paints and fumes. Additionally, these employees are also at significant risk of developing repetitive motion injuries and even disabilities from musculoskeletal conditions triggered by lifting and twisting their bodies repeatedly throughout each work day. Because of the hazardous nature of these challenging positions, turnover rates run high, with job attachment generally low. This creates a cycle of continually recruiting, onboarding and training employees, cutting into companies’ bottom lines.

Thanks to automation solutions developed by FANUC, the automotive industry is achieving breathless speed, precision and repeatability in the production of cars, trucks and other vehicles, ramping up capacity while minimizing expenditures. FANUC has helped maximize the potential of the auto industry since automating processes for the internal combustion engine production more than any competitor. Jobs lost to automation in this industry were often replaced with new jobs created by automation, with employees benefiting from improved safety and work conditions.

Warehouses Are Hiring Employees in Droves Even As Automation Technology is Implemented

The market for automation solutions in warehouses and distribution centers across the United States is expected to increase from $13 billion in 2018 to $27 billion by 2025. Even with this soaring growth in automation, employees are needed more than ever.

Fueled by a high-performing economy in recent years, a labor shortage has combined with an aging population to create a major need for more warehouse help. As consumer demand for e-commerce products skyrockets—from $526 billion in 2018 to $893 billion in 2022—businesses are leveling up their automation solutions and deepening their employee rosters to meet consumer expectations.

For most businesses, a fully automated warehouse isn’t practical. Rather, these businesses would benefit from implementing automation technology to help receive and send out products quickly. In this kind of setup, employees are involved in handling goods in the middle of the fulfillment process.

The number of jobs in the warehousing and storage industry increased from 779 million in January 2015 to 1.2 billion in December 2018. U.S. warehouses and distribution centers needed to hire an additional 452,000 employees over 2018 and 2019 to keep pace with consumer demand. Fulfillment centers are anticipated to create many more jobs in the coming years for companies to meet consumers’ growing hunger for e-commerce goods.

Changing Workplaces Across Industries Sees Automation and People Working Together

In many industries, from automotive to warehousing, the adoption of automation solutions is helping change what the modern workplace looks like. The use of robotics and automation technologies is certainly helping transform workplaces into fast, efficient and productive places. But robots aren’t taking jobs away. They are blazing a path for the creation of more jobs—jobs that are safer and cleaner.

FANUC has long provided educational opportunities, including FANUC Certified Education Training Programs, to help ensure employees are prepared to find new jobs created by automation.

Automation has helped drive the U.S. economy since the 1960s, and with FANUC automation solutions paving the way for businesses to achieve practically unimaginable productive gains, there’s no telling how many jobs will be created for people to work alongside robots and automation.