The pandemic caused many manufacturers to face a stark reality: the work-force they had depended on so much, may not be there when needed. This uncertain climate has caused many companies the need to pivot quickly by downsizing their production, or adding robotic, automation, or other digital transformation elements to help fill the gaps. The new question on many manufacturers’ minds is what to invest in next?

What Can Robots and Automation Do Better?

Let’s face it, robots aren’t great at creativity, manual dexterity, or adaptable problem-solving. What they are great at are repetitive tasks, heavy manual labor, and jobs which are hazardous to humans. They are also excellent at observing and processing data. In fact, they are miles ahead of us in these terms. 

What Can Humans Do Better?

As mentioned before, humans are better at the innovative and problem-solving aspects of many jobs. And they are really, really good at being adaptable. That makes them ideally suited for jobs where these skills are critical: managerial, skilled, or creative.

How Can These Two Work Together to Increase Productivity?

So, how can both types of labor be utilized to increase productivity? First and foremost, we need to face the reality that automation and digital transformations are going to become increasingly more mainstream. This doesn’t mean that there will be no jobs for humans, just that those jobs may look a little different than before. In fact, proponents of this new type of work have coined the term “cobots” to describe a robot and human collaboration where each element works on a task that suits them best. An example of this might be a process observation system which utilizes an automation’s superb capacity to note and process data, while reporting that data to multiple places, with a human (or multiple people) who can take that data and make educated decisions about how to fix or increase the efficiency of that process.