Rise of the Robotics Officer

Three reasons you should consider hiring a Chief Robotics Officer

Rise of the Robotics Officer

In the workplace of tomorrow, robots have the capacity to facilitate huge strides. With robotics set to be a $1.2 trillion business by 20251 (€1.05 trillion), whole industries from manufacturing and logistics to healthcare and retail are starting to realise greater automation in their future. And this isn’t as far away as we think.

Increasingly, industries are seeking more sophisticated technology, with robots being relied on for more finely tuned roles, conducting intricate tasks with enhanced sensing capabilities. Gone are the days of robots doing simple heavy-lifting tasks. We see a future where robots and people coexist - an automated future where the workforce is freed from menial and monotonous tasks, enabling greater creativity and a focus on developing a more highly skilled workforce. 

Several market trends are merging at the moment to make the case for automation in Europe including a growing ageing population and a rising global middle class. However, perhaps most important for manufacturing is the move towards reshoring manufacturing back to Europe. The cost of installing robots is decreasing and, unlike labour costs, is comparable across the globe. Robots can be said to be levelling the playing field in terms of cost of labour and are facilitating a shift towards reshoring manufacturing activities back to Europe.

In the midst of our 30th year in robotics in Europe, Epson’s new Force Guide Sensor technology is bringing greater accuracy and precision to propel robots into this vision of the future to meet market demand for more finely tuned robots.  In combination with our robots, the force sensor allows the robot to understand the force they apply to objects, allowing them to carry out tasks that formerly required human perception.

How fast certain industries catch on is up to them but with Myria Research estimating that by 2025 over 60% of Global 1000 companies (across all segments) will have a Chief Robotics Officer (and associated roles) on their staff, this will be a major consideration in any company’s future (akin to the rise of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) in the 1970s2).

The CRO will arguably be responsible for all things robot-related, but the real benefits of hiring a CRO to lead your company’s robotics can be much more:

1. He/she will effectively identify the tasks that should be shifted to robots

Enable your team to focus on value-added elements of the manufacturing process, such as creativity and strategy. The CRO will ensure robots and people are able to effectively work alongside each other, enabling a smooth transition of the process to robots.

2. He/she will meet the needs of a changing workforce through the right business evolution

Within the EU, the percent of employees within the 55-64 age group has increased from 39.9% in 2003 to 50.1% in 2013 – a number that is only set to increase3.A key priority for businesses of the future will be meeting the needs of this ageing workforce (one that is working for longer). As part of the ageing process, sensory and manual skills decline and the workplace of tomorrow must adapt in order to accommodate and protect the needs of older employees (for function and safety). 

3. He/she will ensure business success during times of change

Robots can help maintain a low-cost competitive advantage following reshoring activities. With manufacturing coming back to home-turf, the CRO will ensure robots are successfully rolled out in the workplace, automating the correct elements of processes to reduce overhead costs whilst ensuring tasks remain in place to be completed by a human workforce.

If you haven’t already considered hiring your CRO, several market conditions are emerging which make the case for increased robotic automation in Europe. First, a rising middle classes is creating greater demand for goods; second, many global businesses are reshoring manufacturing activities; and third, these businesses are finding that an ageing workforce is leading to a shortage of people to work in manufacturing jobs. Therefore, new ways of effectively maintaining output levels to meet market demands must be found. While robots will never have the ability to replace the value people bring to the workplace, they will bring value. A well-thought out robot strategy is where a CRO can bring that value alive. 

To find out more about Epson's robotic solutions please click here.

1 Myria Research, The Chief Robotics Officer, January 2015. Full report available online.

2 Myria Research, The Chief Robotics Officer, January 2015. Full report available online.

3European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. https://osha.europa.eu/en/themes/osh-management-context-ageing-workforce