ODENSE, Denmark — The demand for collaborative robots is strong, particularly in Europe. Proof can be found in the explosive growth of Universal Robots A/S since the company launched its first cobot in 2008. In 2016 alone, UR’s revenue reached an estimated 662 million Danish krone ($94 million U.S.) and delivered a profit of DKK 92 million ($13 million) before tax, reflecting the booming cobot market.
By investing $6 million in robots, Bicycle Corporation of America (BCA) was able to take back 10% of their manufacturing from China and place it into a new factory in Manning, South Carolina employing 140 new workers.
America’s manufacturing heyday is gone and so are millions of jobs, lost to modernization. Despite what Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin might think, the National Bureau of Economic Research and Silicon Valley executives, among many others, know it’s already happening.
But for how long?
In the long run, many think that automation and robotics are going to replace a significant percentage, if not the overwhelming majority, of manufacturing jobs. That’s certainly a possibility. But for now, even as companies add more robots to North American factory floors, the number of human jobs in manufacturing is also on the rise.