Robots will not completely take over the world of manufacturing. But a look ahead to the next 25 years shows that big changes are on the way.
Automation will continue to drive vast improvements in everything from productivity to safety while alternative energy will gain more attention as a way for manufacturers to become even more efficient.
The focus for manufacturers also will shift from mass production to emphasize customer service, delivery and quality of the finished product, all with an eye on continuous improvement. Also, look for technicians to take on greater, multiple roles in manufacturing.
New types of jobs, such as robot maintenance, will emerge and direct manufacturer-to-consumer selling models could take hold over the next quarter century. More workers than ever before will be programming and operating computerized equipment, and the days of dozens of employees performing manual, hand-operated assembly work will disappear.
It will be a time of change. Possibly profound change.
“Generally, I think you are going to see a quantum leap in technology across every level of manufacturing,” said Michael Araten, president and CEO of The Rodon Group, a manufacturer of plastic injection molds in Hatfield.
As an example, robots will have more speed and precision, including those such as Rodon’s Baxter robot. The company acquired this American-made device several years ago for about $27,000. While Baxter can do many functions, such as precise packing, Rodon Group is pushing to have it perform assembly work.
“Those kinds of technologies will take over manufacturing,” Araten said.
Automation has been a big deal over the past 25 years and will be even more so over the next 25, said John Quarmley, president of Highwood USA in Tamaqua, a manufacturer of synthetic products that include furniture, building trim and fencing.