Automation — But Not Robots

Researchers from MIT visited the heartland to see for themselves what kind of effect automation was having on manufacturing in typical American towns.

They found computers, which were being used to replace paper record-keeping. They saw some 20th century machinery. They didn’t see many machines recognizable as robots.

And yet 2020 was the first year that saw new robots going to industries other than auto manufacturing. Automation sped up, most observers said, putting automation in the U.S. ahead of expectations by years. Many expected that workers would have no Jos to go to after the pandemic, because the increase in automation would give so many jobs to robots.

“But can pandemic-induced automation really be creating an army of surplus workers,” the Economist asks, “if employers are complaining of a deficit?”

Labor shortage

One of the groups complaining about a labor shortage is manufacturers who would like to bring in robots. They can’t, they say, because there are two few people qualified to work with robots.

It would make sense that robots would provide a solution to some of the pandemic-induced problems. “In a pandemic bosses have an extra incentive to automate jobs, as research by the IMF¬†has shown,” the Economist acknowledges. “Robots do not need to socially distance. Nor do they get sick. Thanks largely to government stimulus programs, firms have also accumulated spare cash, which they may now be able to deploy on robotics or on artificial-intelligence software.”

Software is often the type of automation that is replacing workers. Office managers lose their jobs to programs that automate many of their tasks. Or they lose tasks to that software and pick up new tasks to fill their time. Their jobs may disappear…but they may also just change.


Are the 20th century automated devices in your facility controlled by Indramat motion control systems? Plenty are. They may be robots or they may not. Either way, we can help keep them in trim.

We specialize in Indramat motion control systems. Repair, reman, or replacement, we can make it happen fast, reducing your downtime and getting you back up and running fast. Call us now for immediate assistance, or store our phone number for future needs.

(479) 422-0390