As baby boomers retire from the manufacturing sector, many leaders are rightly concerned about the lack of skilled workers to fill the void. As temporary labor becomes more expensive and difficult to retain, this scenario has led to an increased appreciation for automation and robotics as tools capable of addressing this issue.
The North American manufacturing sector is facing a unique challenge as a result of the aging baby boomer generation. As this generation moves into retirement, there is growing concern about a noticeable shortage of skilled workers to fill the positions the baby boomers are leaving behind. In fact, by 2030 the last baby boomer will retire and leave a noticeable knowledge and skills gap within the manufacturing sector. Further, it appears that baby boomers are retiring at a faster rate than in years past.
Automation and robotics will play a central role in the multi-pronged solution to this challenge. Automation and robotics have the potential to improve manufacturing efficiency within the manufacturing sector. Robotics allows for increased accuracy and speed in repetitive tasks, minimizing the risk of human error. This, in turn, leads to reduced product waste and improved product quality. Furthermore, robotics can complete these tasks faster than humans ever could, which is essential when working on tight schedules and deadlines. Another advantage of automation and robotics in the manufacturing sector is the increased safety they provide. Manufacturing can be a dangerous industry, but robots can remove the risk of injury to human workers in several ways. They can complete tasks in dangerous areas or environments, perform repetitive or strenuous tasks, and handle materials that humans may not be able to.
Overall, automation and robotics have proven to be a valuable technology in modern manufacturing. However, they’re not foolproof, and there are challenges associated with them as well. One such challenge in the North American manufacturing industry is the risk of social backlash. Despite the benefits of automation, people are understandably anxious about the potential loss of jobs due to the rise of robots. Another challenge to consider is that the system may be expensive to implement. In light of the pandemic, however, companies are becoming more receptive and open to automation and robotics. Companies are keenly aware of the pandemic’s implications on social distancing protocols and the potential closure of factories. Additionally, ROI projections in the long term are forecasted to reduce expenses with lowered employee turnover, decreased staff compensation claims, and heightened scalability. While automation and robotics certainly have their advantages, it’s important to note that they’re not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Even with increased automation, there will still be a need for skilled workers in the manufacturing sector. With robotics and automation handling the hectic and menial tasks, employees can focus on more complex tasks such as testing, research and development, and innovation-oriented jobs. Skilled workers are vital in the use and maintenance of machinery, ensuring that the systems work as intended efficiently. In conclusion, automation and robotics are necessary to supplement the shortfall left by baby boomers retiring from the CPG manufacturing sector. Robotics complements and augments the workforce, adding to productivity instead of replacing human workers. Additionally, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there needs to be a loss of jobs. Instead, skilled workers can transition into different roles that the automation and robotics cannot perform. Therefore, the present and future of the CPG manufacturing sector lie in the employees’ integration with the emerging technologies rather than pitting the two against each other. With a balanced approach to the adoption of technology and the continued investment in skilled human capital, the industry will remain resilient and competitive for years to come.