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132 . Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics

Mitchell Hutchins Inc.

Table 14:

Rapid Robot Industry Growth Projected

Sales Millions

Units

1981

$ 150

2,100

1985

500-600

7,000- 8,000

1990

2,000

30,000-40,000

cisions is high and could easily be catastrophic for smaller entrepreneurial concerns.

Source:

PWMH.

As in most high technology industries,

the cost of being wrong in product and/or market de-

One potential future market development is the growth of the robot leasing business. the computer business, small companies may never have adequate capability to implement

As in robots

efficiently.

Leasing robots, along with full support from

smaller companies with limited nology readily available.

capital

and

no

robot-wise

suppliers, could employees, making

make sense for the latest tech-

ROBOT INTRODUCTION A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON MANUFACTURING OPERATIONS

There logical

is no doubt that robots will revolutionize the workplace.

Even if no further techno-

advancements

were

made

in

fields

such

as

sensory

perception,

robots

would

still

have

a place in the manufacturing process.

However,

it is impossible to ignore the awkward

of realignment that must precede the robotics revolution.

It

more

sophisticated

compared

to

the

understanding

of

the

social

is clear that technology system of the factory.

period is far

Robots wards of

are threatening to the existing work force.

Recent estimates have suggested

twenty

million

industrial

jobs

around

the

world

could

be

replaced

by

robots.

that up- This in-

cludes four million assembly workers, two million machinists, welders and flame cutters and six million machine operators.

one million painters, two Retraining is believed to

million be the

major social problem created by rapid robotization,

not unemployment.

In both the U.S. and Sweden, for example, many unions have come to accept robots as a method of easing the most burdensome manufacturing tasks and increasing productivity, both viewed as

a route to a higher standard gerous or monotonous jobs as

of living.

unfit

for

Swedish unions have actually classified certain dan-

humans

and

demanded

that

they

be

carried

out

by

robots.

The UAW has. been quoted in publications as stating that higher wages and in hand and technology, automation and new methodology are a major way to

productivity go hand increase productivity.

The method of robot of selling an initial

introduction into a unit to a company.

manufacturing organization tends The sale by the manufacturer has

to

follow the

to

include:

pattern

Extensive customer support, including back-up support and technical

services, simple repairs and parts replacement.

Comprehensive training programs and customer education,

as potential

users often do not have the technical background or expertise to make

a robot work on the plant floor.

The first installations tend to be most important,

for they are the ones watched most care-

fully by both management and labor. multiple orders follow, but the need future, robot producers will have to out the world and offer a variety of

As companies become more comfortable in using robots,

for continuing manufacturers’

support remains.

In the

face the problem of services, including

support networks education.

that

extend

through-

14

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