The manufacturing labor gap shows no sign of slowing down consistent with a report by Deloitte Consulting and therefore the Manufacturing Institute. It believes that the available manufacturing jobs will take off from 522,000 at the top of 2018 to 2.4 million by 2028. Robotic automation is being touted by many as a possible solution to the present growing problem. However, before robots can cure the labor ills, it’s important to acknowledge the hurdles that have got to be overcome.

Robots and Manufacturing

Robotic automation has been around for several decades, and there are presently quite two million industrial robots at work. Currently, most robots operate in caged environments as there's a trade-off between safety around people and production speed. This, including the vast amount of programming required to integrate robots, has constrained their wider adoption. For instance, in assembly-line environments, robots are currently programmed to perform repetitive tasks on parts that are always within the same position and orientation. Before robots can bridge the growing labor gap, they have to be ready to mimic the way people work on assembly lines. this may require them to deal with a more dynamic environment, like parts not being perfectly oriented, while operating at viable production speed. As technology advances, robots are going to be ready to perform away from a more extensive range of complicated and complex tasks at a way faster pace.

So, what's holding robotic automation back?

The Safety Factor

Robots cannot currently navigate around obstacles in their environments at speed. Therefore, they're sequestered in cages to attenuate the barriers entering their work area. this is often the most important challenge that has got to be solved before manufacturers can expand the role of robotic automation and help address the labor gap. As robots become smarter within the coming decades, they're going to be ready to recognize when people and other machines are within their environment and add harmony with them. this may allow them to require more tasks and operate at a way more productive pace, finally delivering many of the much-touted efficiencies.

The Programing Hurdle

Robots are inherently more complex to deploy than software systems, and as a result, the pace of adoption has been much slower and really expensive. Robotic automation today requires a huge amount of programming to integrate within manufacturing workflows. Every single production line decision requires extensive programming and rigorous testing to form sure each decision outcome is addressed while the robots aren't in production. As robots become smarter with specialized software and hardware, including machine learning and sensors, it'll be much easier to integrate them into more industrial settings. Robots are going to be ready to recognize, learn, grip, and react quickly, which can significantly expand the range of actions that they will perform, and it'll also slash the programming burden.

Man & Machine: Working together consonant 

Robots and other people are unable to figure together at a productive pace today thanks to safety concerns. As robots become smarter and more flexible, they're going to be ready to work near people and other robots at an efficient pace. Robots are going to be ready to combat more complicated tasks like cleaning, also as more physical tasks, including harvesting, bending or kneeling. When this happens, people are going to be ready to specialize in higher-value work. However, the dystopian vision of a totally autonomous factory currently seems improbable. Human intelligence and adaptability will still be an important component that automation won't be ready to replicate for a minimum of a decade.


The role of robots in manufacturing remains relatively limited. If robots are to unravel the growing labor shortage in US manufacturing, then they're going to got to significantly expand both the sort of tasks that they will perform and therefore the speed at which they are doing so. Robots will get to operate safely also as understand and react to unplanned variables at speed. this may require robots to be more dexterous, flexible, have spatial awareness, and in fact, the power to find out. Until robotic automation conquers these hurdles, it'll remain a band-aid instead of a cure for the widening labor gap.