Does Automation Lead to Better Pay?

People often associate increased automation in factories with a negative outcome for human workers. The reasoning is that machines are taking the repetitive, dangerous, low-skill work away from people. Automating these tasks will leave a lot of blue collar workers without a job. While unemployment usually dominates discussions about industrial robots, one recent study suggests that more factory machines could have a positive outcome for human workers.

A study from researchers at the Department of Economics, Uppsala University and the London School of Economics suggests that installing industrial robots increases employee wages. Anders Berndt took a closer look at the findings for Robot Report.

Automation doesn’t get rid of human workers

According to the study, adding industrial robots doesn’t eliminate jobs. It does affect employment, however.

Installing more industrial robots creates more opportunities for highly skilled workers. Technicians, engineers, and workers with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are in higher demand than robust physical laborers who can grind out 12 hour workdays.

The flip side is that opportunities are decreasing for workers without higher level skills and education. It’s not just low-skill work that feels the effects of automation. The study found that automation even affects middle-skill workers.

How do robots increase wages?

It’s not that a factory installs a robot and starts handing out raises. Industrial work is changing. An increase in wages reflects a higher demand for high-skill employees and less demand for low-skill laborers. Employees with higher skills and more extensive training expect higher wages.

The benefits of automation – increased productivity, efficiency, consistency, and profit – enable employers to pay higher wages to skilled workers. According to Berndt, “The contributions of robots to the economy is comparable to the economic importance of the railway since the 19th century…”

How are your robots doing?

The International Federation of Robotics reported a 30 percent increase in sales for 2017. This trend shouldn’t slow down any time soon. Automation technology is constantly improving. As long as factory robots continue to get better and more affordable, we should expect sales to increase as well.

Make sure that your system is ready for whatever the future brings. We specialize in Indramat motion control systems. Call or contact us online for assistance with your Indramat servos, drives, and controls.