Could Mobile Robotics Benefit Employees?

The media often portrays robots, AI, and automation as being in competition with humans. Something that will displace workers or threaten them. However, the industrialisation already proved that automated gruelling tasks are a benefit to society, with the price of technology becoming cheaper and workers becoming more productive.

The market for autonomous mobile robots is exploding currently because the scope for its applications is expanding. Mobile robotics are being used within its core industries, like manufacturing, but also being employed in healthcare, retail, among others

The benefits of mobile robotics are often discussed but framed as a benefit to the employer and the bottom line. So, this article will focus on the benefits that the employees will feel and why they may want to welcome the solutions offered by the mobile robotics company Robotnik such as mobile robots, mobile manipulators or robots customisation according to each industry needs.

Employee Safety

First and foremost, employee safety is crucial to the operation of a business. Not just regarding health and safety regulatory compliance, but even just as a social responsibility. Employees are less motivated when they feel unsafe in their environment, and accidents will also cause them to take time off work.

One of the major benefits that mobile robotics provides to employees is that they can take on dangerous work. This may be something risky in terms of interacting with dangerous machinery, working in places of chemicals, or even just bearing the heavy loads of certain items.

A retail chain, for example, could employ autonomous mobile robots to unload goods in stock from the back of a lorry. This gruelling manual work can save employees from accidents, but also just save them energy so they don’t burn out over the working week. Furthermore, automated surveillance over a shop floor could mean monitoring common shoplifters more accurately, and save the security guard the hassle of difficult judgement-calling. It could mean pre-emptively reducing shoplifting before it escalates.

Finally, mobile robotics can help us reduce stress and pressures within the workplace. The push for X productivity is now shared, with the emphasis now more on the robots to continue churning. Employees become less involved with hitting KPIs. or at least ones that are manually focused and can even mean the workplace doesn’t totally rely on them not to take time off. A fully manual workplace with no automation means it’s 100% dependent on humans, so it’s a lot more difficult to organise your schedule, holidays, and take sick leave.

Technical Training

Having robots around the workplace presents various new training opportunities to employees. A worker who is used to manual work around the warehouse may find themselves learning how to use the machine and co-operate, to then learning how to fix the machine. Perhaps they decide to even retrain entirely and begin learning how to program and implement the machines. When looking at event such as the ROSDevDay, sponsored by major companies such as Nvidia, Robotnik or EProsima, it’s clear that there are a lot of training possibilities for people interested by the subject.

This presents more upward mobility within the company – internal hiring may become more prevalent if employees have a more broad range of skills and are fully accustomed to how the robotics operate. Generally, robotic solutions are fairly bespoke, so there’s a lot of room for not only training with them, but a high value is placed on understanding them, as onboarding a new employee may now incur a greater cost. Bespoke solutions are a prerequisite for mobile robotics because every workplace has a different floor plan and setup.

Free Up The Hands For Higher-Value Tasks

If mobile robotics are performing the gruelling and repetitive work for employees, it implies that not only does the employee have more time freed up, but the tasks remaining (that the robot cannot do) are not repetitive or simple. In other words, this is the work that doesn’t make the employee feel like a robot.

Having more time for higher-value jobs, and allowing employees to use their problem-solving abilities, can provide more meaning and satisfaction to their job. This could give the employee more freedom to think strategically too. Instead of just performing the manual tasks, now they can think about organising how the robot will perform them, and how they will interact with the tasks. This gives employees more responsibility and freedom to perform tasks.

Instead of replacing human work, robots replace the dehumanising work and increase the productivity of humans. They make us more efficient and help streamline our workflow, but simultaneously provide us with more opportunity for fulfilling tasks that require a more varied skillset – such as management oversight.

As we see mobile robotics become more normalised in the workplace, an improvement in employee satisfaction and motivation could be a compounding driver in further increasing the appetite for them. Not to mention the wide range of benefits that the firm itself reaps, from shorter lead times to reducing errors.