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Collaborative robots (cobots) are firmly at the forefront of modern manufacturing and are set to redefine automation as a dynamic alternative for manufacturers both big and small, according to cobot manufacturer Universal Robots.

Universal said beyond their ability to fulfill dull, dangerous, and even dirty jobs, cobots give rise to the collaborative automation era in which humans and robots can work together, and a value-based ecosystem is formed. 

“We are changing the narrative from ‘people working like robots’ to ‘people working with robots’,” said Masayuki Mase, country manager for Universal Robots. 

“Cobots are empowering a new generation of workers who want to work alongside robots. They are reigniting a passion for manufacturing amongst the younger generations who understand where the future of manufacturing is heading.”

Universal believes the Covid pandemic has changed the way in which people view work, with many deciding to turn away from roles that are repetitive, lack progression opportunities, or pose risks to their mental or physical wellbeing.

It also believes coupled with this are concerns around an aging workforce, and the struggle to attract and retain young talent. 

Mase believes robotics may be the answer, and the uptick in cobots plays a crucial role in luring the local workforce back into the talent pool.

“We are excited to see cobots transforming production and manufacturing environments around the country, and helping businesses better utilise the people they do have,” said Mase. 

“These intuitive machines are taking on a range of popular tasks such as picking, placing, palletising and packaging tasks at the end of the production line in the food and beverage industry.

“In other industries too, they perform jobs such as welding, screw driving, polishing or CNC machine tending.”

According to Mase, rather than replacing workers, cobots are a solution to the recruitment challenge, as these machines can step in to tackle heavy, tedious or unpleasant tasks, freeing their human colleagues up for more high-value work that requires more thought or a considered human touch. Also adding to this is the rise in female talent.

“In the past, some of the dull, dangerous and dirty jobs were viewed as jobs for males, but today, females are re-entering the sector with the prospect of fulfilling exciting, high-value roles and working alongside cobots in the manufacturing and engineering space,” Mase explained. 

“As recruits send in their CVs they want to know that they are part of a progressive company, and this is where robotics can play a part in creating a manufacturing sector that is more attractive to younger talent.”

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