Four ways that automation can compensate for labour shortages.

Four ways that automation compensates for labour shortages.
[Source: Shutterstock]

Manufacturers increasingly recognise automation as a way of supporting, rather than replacing their manual workforce. Accelerating this approach is vital given the growing concern over labour shortages in the industry.

The challenge is not just about filling jobs, it is about evolving the workforce in the face of changing demands. These can stem from customer demands, high energy costs, environmental goals, technological advancements, or the actions of competitors.

In 2023, a Reuters report found that 53% of companies struggle with hiring suitable staff. Furthermore, addressing these challenges requires innovative strategies that not only fill labour gaps but also enhance existing talent.

Addressing labour shortages in industry

In response to this, Omron Automation identified four key strategies to address labour shortages and support the workforce through automation:

Integrating IT and OT systems

Companies should adopt integrated solutions combining information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). This helps automate repetitive tasks, freeing employees for more complex duties. Moreover, the collaboration of companies like OMRON, Nokia, and Dassault Systemes illustrates the benefits of such integration, combining 5G technology, virtual twin experiences, and intelligent automation.

Upskilling the workforce

The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2025, half of all workers will need new skills to adapt to industry changes. OMRON, for instance, contributes to this by organising educational initiatives, workshops, and financial support for technology education, preparing the workforce for a digitally driven industrial environment.

Embracing innovative technologies

Technologies like robotics, big data, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and IoT can help overcome skill and labour shortages. They enable value creation and flexible manufacturing workflows. Again, collaboration with technology partners like Omron can significantly improve quality and efficiency through data analytics, highlighting the practical benefits of these technologies.

Starting small, then scale up

Implementing automation should begin with small-scale projects to gauge effectiveness. Success in these pilots can lead to wider adoption. Involving employees early on is crucial to address their concerns and demonstrate automation’s benefits. Studies, like the one from the International Federation of Robotics, show that automation in countries like Germany, Italy, and France has not led to job losses. Furthermore, it leads to a shift in job roles, with automation taking over repetitive tasks and working anti-social hours.

Overall, automation presents a promising path to address labour shortages in manufacturing by supporting a manual workforce. It is about enhancing efficiency, reducing repetitive tasks, and empowering workers for more meaningful roles. Automation is not a threat to employment but a tool to bolster productivity and business growth amidst workforce challenges.

Recent blog posts