You know the common fear: robots are coming to take your jobs. This fear of new technologies dates back hundreds of years about the inevitable changes that they bring. However, again and again it has proven that while some jobs are lost, they are ultimately replaced with new ones.
Past technological innovations may have been made obsolete such as the job of a buggy maker, but simultaneously created the millions of jobs in the automobile manufacturer. Just think of the many digital-based careers that did not exist a mere 30 years ago, such as digital marketing, nanosystems engineers, and cytotechnologists. Just 30 years ago people would not have even dreamt of those careers, and now they are common positions. This proves just how quickly the work force changes.
And these changes are often for the better. Job quality and wage often increase with these technological changes. With this continuous quality improvement, it requires sophisticated high tech robot systems, according to the International Federation of Robotics.
Laurie Wells, Vice-President, Sales and Marketing for Old World Stone, a provider of custom cut stone based in Burlington, ON, Canada would agree with this.
“Our craft is very traditional, but it is being reproduced in other parts of the world for cheaper. Speed and cost are our competitors. To be able to offer this product in North America, we had to find a better way, a faster way of producing our art.”
The answer was investing in a KUKA 120-R27000 Extra HA Quantec Robot with 4C Controller to carve stone and other materials using different bits of the milling head to sculpt the detail. Initially, workers objected to the idea, as they believed that this robot would displace the skilled sculptors and carvers employed in the facility.
Instead, they were faced with the realization that the robot would eliminate the physically destructive and repetitive task of roughing the piece out of a block. Formerly, an employee suffered from white finger (a condition resulting from the vibration of an air hammer that cuts of the circulation to the fingers), carpal tunnel issues with his wrist, tendonitis in his elbow, and pain in his shoulder. He was facing the end of his career due to his degrading ability to do his work. Now that the robot is in place, he is able to do the “fun” part of his job- finishing the pieces and placing tool marks. The efficiency has skyrocketed in the plant, as pieces are being completed in one and a half days instead of four to five days. In fact, this is a normal occurrence when businesses invest in robotics- robots don’t replace “jobs”, they replace “tasks” that are often repetitive or damaging for humans.
When businesses use robots to complete these tasks, it frees employees to do more interesting and creative work. Careers are being furthered, instead of eliminated. In this case, the robot has actually led to the hiring of new apprentices to learn the craft of finishing pieces. In the future, the plant aims to add more and larger robots which will lead to an increase in employees across all departments, especially on the programming side.
The robot has been able to reduce physical demand on employees, as well as make the overall environment more safe. Traditional carving and sculpting produces dust which is environmentally hazardous for employees. Instead, the robot works wet which means the dust is contained in a slurry form.
“I’ve eliminated dust and heavy wear and tear on employees, while at the same time we have a machine that works 24/7 without supervision. That’s the future.” – Laurie Wells
This concludes our series that looked at the changing field of employment and how robotics is helping change this world.
At Old World Stone we combine the traditional craft of cut stone in the hands of European trained stonecutters and carvers, with state-of-the-art technology using computerized drawings, cutting and carving equipment. All of the dimensional work is done on-premises, which assures quality control and timely delivery. The result is a one-of-a-kind expression of stone design created affordably.
OCTOPUZ is an intelligent offline robotic programming and simulation software ideal for any sized company. It offers the ability to program, simulate and generate code for multiple robots, simultaneously, with support for most robot brands in any configuration. OCTOPUZ is fully customizable to our customer’s needs, and our extensive support will provide assistance before, during, and after the sale.