County Technical College student Doug Roblee (front) is
using a teach pendant to program the Fanuc Robot in WCTC’s
Automation Systems Technology program.
— The decade-long debate of whether automation is replacing
humans in the job market has culminated in a study suggesting that
robots may not in fact be taking over.
to Manpower Group’s report “Humans Wanted: Robots Need You,”
87 percent of employers plan to increase or maintain their
headcount as a result of automation for the third consecutive year
— the study sampled 19,000 employers in 44 countries on the
impact of automation on job growth in the next two years.
same study suggests that even as global talent shortages approach
a 12year high, new skills are appearing as fast as others
disappear. In fact, more companies are planning to build their
workforce talent with 84 percent planning to upskill employees by
2020 — an exponential increase from 21 percent in 2011.
in the manufacturing industry that suggests robots are eliminating
jobs has distracted manufacturers from the real issue in the
automation and manufacturing industry, said Jonas Prising,
Manpower Group chairman & CEO.
and more robots are being added to the workforce, but humans are
too,” Prising said. “Tech is here to stay and it’s our
responsibility as leaders to become chief learning officers and
work out how we integrate humans with machines.”
a robot takes over more repetitive and mundane tasks,
employees rise to more challenging roles in robot operation
and programming. Shown is Brad Lund, robot programming
manager at Acieta.
equal more humans
reality, robots are helping shift the type of work employees
engage in on the job, said Steve Alexander, vice president of
operations at Acieta, a local robotics integrator. For example, a
single operator tends to one robot in charge of multiple tasks,
which may have previously required an operator for each task.
frees up the operator to do highly skilled tasks like quality
checks or setting up a part program,” Alexander said.
added that as companies purchase more robotics and upskill their
employees, they also become more competitive, which allows
companies to grow.
more that company grows, the more employees will be hired,”
pattern of adding robots and then adding more employees as
production increases is a trend that can be found at several local
manufacturing companies, including Waukesha- based Metal-Era, Inc.
Mallinger, Metal-Era president and CEO, said his company
implemented automation into the production process in 2008. In the
last decade, the company has added four robots to their arsenal
and as a result, shifted laborers to a different segment of the
production process, he said.
went into this with the idea that we were never going to lose, cut
a job or downsize,” Mallinger said. “Our employees in the
production side have only grown over the last 10 years.”
the years, Waukesha County has become a hub for the automation
industry as more companies make the transition.
have a very strong manufacturing economy in Waukesha County,”
said Suzanne Kelley, Waukesha County Business Alliance president
and CEO. “There’s a growing number of companies that are
adopting automation and we’re fortunate to have a number of
companies in Waukesha County that are leaders in this area.”
Service Manager Todd Fickau works on a robot at Acieta.
robot may be the center of the solution, but everything around
that robot, including conveyors, sensors, grippers, safety circuit
and programs, are all components that require the work of humans.
integrator takes on all of these tasks, which require a team of
salespeople, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers,
assemblers and programmers,” Alexander said.
the manufacturing industry shifts, a wideopen job market has led
to schools and universities shifting educational programs to meet
the demands of industry employers. At Waukesha County Technical
College, students are learning to program computers and to build
and operate programs necessary to run automation, said Michael
Shiels, WCTC dean of applied technologies.
though things are being automated and robots are key to the
future, there still needs to be technicities in the welding and
machining industry to program and operate that high-tech
equipment,” Shiels said.
specifically in the manufacturing industry has grown so much in
recent years that students are enrolling in automation programs at
WCTC as early as high school, Shiels added.
want to get high school students engaged in these opportunities as
soon as we can to give a jump start on the great career
opportunities that are ahead of them in the automation field,”
is here to stay and it’s our responsibility as leaders to become
chief learning officers and work out how we integrate humans with
Group chairman & CEO