The Robots are Coming
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
An entirely new class of employee is slowly infiltrating Canada's factories, and there's lots to recommend them. They don't leave food to rot in the staff fridge, they never mess up the scene with inappropriate company romances, and they can boast near-perfect attendance records, even on the snowiest of driving days.
Advanced industrial robots are poised to redefine the Canadian manufacturing scene, most prominently in the plastics and metal industries. With lower costs and higher capabilities than their fleshy predecessors, this new generation of workers currently accounts for 10 percent of the world's automated tasks.
But by the end of the next decade, says Boston Consulting Group's latest research on the subject, that share will have spiked to almost 25 percent.
And, says the report, the rate of robotic adoption will be particularly swift in Canada, thanks to this country's relatively high labour costs and flexible laws.
Indeed, robots' cheaper labour rates and higher productivity have set Canada's manufacturing cost competitiveness up to improve by two percentage points relative to that of the US by 2025, the study says. Specifically, the next decade will see robots slash labour costs by at least 16 percent and boost productivity by up to 30 percent in many industries.
These remarkably industrious and always cheerful workers are trained on the manufacturing floor just like the flesh-and-blood counterparts with whom they share the assembly line—by mimicking other people's actions.
There are currently 225,000 operational robots at work in factories in the United States, where robot use is second only to Japan. They are employed most often in companies within the plastics, electronics, and metal-fabrication sectors. In the next ten years, the machinery trade and those sectors devoted to computers, electricals, and transportation will account for about three-quarters of industrial robot purchases.