Businesses Replace Workers With Robots Amid Pandemic

Businesses Replace Workers With Robots Amid Pandemic

( – The idea of robots taking over from humans isn’t exactly a new concept. Science fiction writers and Hollywood filmmakers have presented their vision of a future with humans working alongside machines for decades.

The fall of American jobs due to COVID-19 restrictions led to increased use of robots and artificial intelligence to replace human workers. Time Magazine reported late last summer that millions of Americans had lost their jobs and robots were replacing them “faster than ever.”

NBC News published a comprehensive article about the manufacturing industry, robots, and jobs on April 8.

The Rise of Robots?

According to NBC News, roughly 500,000 fewer workers are employed in the manufacturing industry now than this time a year ago. The operative question is how many of them will return and how many are lost forever due to automation efforts and robots’ use.

Food manufacturers increased the use of robots and other automation methods to keep their factories open during the pandemic. Workers in remote locations could operate the freshly digitized controls on machines, limiting the number of workers in the plants to comply with social distancing requirements.

Assembly lines installed sensors to detect and predict failures, allowing companies to reduce the number of onsite inspectors. With automatic sensor devices installed, companies could also limit the number of maintenance crew members required onsite.

Rockwell Automation told NBC News that growth was up 6% for the year and orders for automated systems increased 30% at Eastman Machine.

It only takes approximately one automated machine to replace up to six human workers, according to MIT professor Daron Acemoglu. He estimates that only about half of the displaced workers will find a new job. According to him, the other three will “withdraw from the labor force.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that robots could replace as many as 2 million manufacturing industry workers by 2025. Meanwhile, Oxford Economics predicted that robots could replace up to 20 million manufacturing workers worldwide by 2030.

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