Industrial Robots are a Boost for American Workers

by Marla Keene, technology writer for​ ​​

The increased use of industrial robots in manufacturing has allowed companies to return to American soil without losing ground against their offshored competitors. But a recent article from the ​World Economic Forum​ suggests their use comes at the loss of jobs within the manufacturing sector. Is this true? The answer: yes, but not the loss of skilled jobs, and not a loss of jobs to area of relocation.

The use of industrial robotics for manufacturing increases the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the manufacturing process by eliminating many low-skilled jobs. This increased productivity has enabled firms like Caterpillar, Whirlpool, and Ford Motor Company to restructure part of their supply chain and bring jobs back home, replacing low-skilled overseas jobs with thousands of well-paying skilled jobs here in America. Reshoring efforts coupled with automation means additional demand in high-skilled manufacturing fields as a whole, and a boost for American workers.

This increased efficiency of automated factories is necessary in reshoring efforts. A ​2017 Reuters/Ipsos​ poll found Americans want to buy American made goods, but only about a third of those polled were willing to pay more for them. But those manufacturers who have already reshored have managed to keep prices stable by coupling high-output domestic facilities with lower domestic transportation costs. As an added benefit, these domestic supply chains have more transparency and a much smaller environmental impact. This benefit will only become more important as sustainability practices move more to the center of corporate strategy.


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