Look to robotics but don’t ignore the human factor in UK recovery urges ProGlove spokesman
31 Aug 2021
UK manufacturers looking to achieve a post-Covid industrial recovery were cautioned not to place all their faith in robotics while ignoring the value of their human workforce.
Senior communications manager for industrial wearable producer ProGlove, Axel Schmidt, welcomed the interest in robotic production but warned changes would take years to effect.
Furthermore, AI and associated innovations would not be sufficient to address the ongoing problem of labour shortages and supply chain strains.
“Despite the interest and rise of robotsas a solution to this problem, the reality is that the use of robots in the industry is nowhere near replacing human workers all together. And it won’t be in the foreseeable future,” said Schmidt.
While technology such as automation, AI or robotics are a critical help to support human workers, throughout the recent pandemic, “people were responsible for driving results during an array of crucial supply chain and delivery scenarios” he added.
While the Covid pandemic and Brexit were key factors contributing to the present labour shortage, the problem predated both , he pointed out.
The issue of worker shortage is not going to go away quickly. It’s been here for a while – and the pandemic has certainly added to it – but it is not the root cause. So, it won’t stop if the pandemic stops.”
However, many production and logistics workers have been forced to move back to their home countries by Brexit, while the pandemic has caused thousands of containers to become stuck in China and various other ports he acknowledged.
“[Yet} these trends exacerbate the point that people are the most important and crucial asset within the supply chain when it comes to picking, packing and distribution. Therefore the industry needs to pay closer attention to how it empowers, protects and uses people.”
Organisations needed to provide technology in order to “integrate the workers’ view into the bigger picture”. Wearable technology such as ProGlove’s would nurture digitisation and promote the human-machine collaboration needed now, he claimed.
“This will not only relieve and protect the human worker, it will also secure better quality and allow for efficiency gains of up 20 percent,” stated Schmidt.
“People are business’s most crucial asset, as we’ve learnt through these labour shortages and supply chain disruptions. Without them, supply chains are on their knees.”