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Sunday, November 20, 2011

4 Million new Robotics Jobs in 2016?

The International Federation of Robotics, IFR, recently announced "robotics will be a major driver for global job creation over the next five years." IFR refers to the 70 page study "Positive Impact of Industrial Robots on Employment" (February 2011) conducted by London based market research firm Metra Martech, which has analysed economic data of Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Korea, and the US, which are considered to be representative of the global economy, and then combined with robot use data provided by IFR. According to the study one million industrial robots currently in operation have been directly responsible for the creation of close to three million jobs.
Future Predictions
A growth in robot use over the next five years might result in the creation of 700.000 to one million new jobs around the world in such industries as consumer electronics, food, solar and wind power, and advanced battery manufacturing. In additional to the million jobs expected to be directly created by the increased use of robotics.  Future robotics growth is expected to come from the next generation service robots industry, especially healthcare, where an aging population will require support services for which human caregivers will be too few in number to provide, says the report. Robots will likewise play an important role in transportation and in the provision of home services, as well as help protect homes and offices, secure borders, and monitor the environment in both routine and emergency operations.

1 Million Robots in China 2015
According to the IFR/Metra Martech study China has a total manufacturing workforce of about 34 million people (some claim 100 million). About 32-50.000 industrial robots are in operation, which means 9 robots per 10.000 employees. In comparison USA has 110 robots per 10.000 manufacturing workers, while Japan has 361 robots per 10.000 manufacturing workers.  If China wants to come up to Japanese level about 1,2 million industrial robots will be required.
Earlier this year the Taiwanese Foxconn Technology Group, a subsidy of the Hon Hai Precision Industries Ltd., and the largest original equipment manufacture (OEM) electronics company in Taiwan announced plans to replace hundreds of employees with “one million robots” over the next three years to cut rising labor expenses and improve efficiency.  

Applying the IFR study mathematics to Foxconn's robotics plans three million more new jobs have to be added to the one million new jobs predicted by IFR.


Peter Gorle said...

One important observation in the Metra Martech report is that, in some cases, robotics production of complex products can reduce their cost to a level where they can be sold as a mass market product. This creates a whole new pyramid of jobs for selling and servicing.

The extra consistency of quality which robotics offer over low cost labour is another important factor.

As China's population gets wealthier, availability of low cost labour will diminish and at the same time, the more wealthy population will be the market for the mass produced robotics output.

it is a virtuous circle

Infonaut said...

Thank you for your comment. Virtuous circle sounds great, but a virtuous circle can transform into a vicious circle if eventual negative feedback is ignored. Do we have the right tools and techniques to cope with highly complex social systems?

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