More than 400 manufacturing and supply chain technology and service providers will gather next week in Chicago at Automate 2017 to present an up-close view of the drivers transforming and moving these segments toward a realized Industry 4.0.
While Automate functions as a working celebration of the advances in industrial automation, this year’s event comes at a time when US political upheaval, supported by a barrage of anxiety causing negative headlines, places robotics and automation in the crosshairs of a national debate on whether these technologies will lead to the demise of the American workforce.
The Association for Advancing Automation (A3), which hosts the biennial event, will use Automate as a platform to directly address mounting concerns and criticisms over workplace automation. On day one of the event, which takes place April 3 – 6 at McCormick place, the association will release a whitepaper on the topic titled “Work in the Automation Age: Sustainable Careers Today and into the Future” and host a “Working in the Automation Age” jobs forum.
The forum and whitepaper will focus on how automation drives productivity, which is the key to companies’ competitiveness, profitability, and growth and how this leads to existing jobs being replaced by new jobs of a higher-value tasks.
The association intends to address the issue of the skills gap and the pressure its puts on employers to find talent. According to the association, studies show an increasing skills gap with as many as two million jobs going unfilled in the manufacturing industry alone in the next decade. Fully 80% of manufacturers report a shortage of qualified applicants for skilled production positions, which could cost U.S. manufacturers 11% of their annual earnings, according to the association. Based on information that will be presented in the whitepaper, manufacturing executives reported an average of 94 days to recruit engineering and research employees and 70 days to recruit skilled production workers.
Jeff Burnstein, president of A3 says the paper reflects extensive research and offers insight into the evolution of education and the rewarding, sustainable jobs of the automation age.
Amazon and General Motors are examples the association points to, of companies that have increased hiring while simultaneously scaling their use of robotics and automation.
Amazon reportedly had ~45,000 employees when it introduced robots in 2014. Amazon continues to add robots to its operations, and the association reports that the company has grown to over 90,000 employees, “with a drive to hire more than 100,000 new people by the end of 2018.”
General Motors grew from 80,000 US employees in 2012 to 105,000 in 2016, while increasing the number of new US robot applications by about 10,000, the association reports.
This year’s show is expected to draw more than 20,000 attendees with representation from more than 70 countries. The event will again be collocated with ProMat (2017), which is hosted by MHI. Attendants of Automate 2017 will gain admittance to ProMat.
Two of robotics fastest growing robotic segments, collaborative robots and autonomous mobile robots (AMR), are expected to be a major draw at this year’s event. Advances in traditional jointed arm industrial robot will also be showcased and are also expected to garner significant attention. Of the more than 30,000 robots that shipped in 2016, 90 % were articulated robotic arms according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) a division of A3.
“These technologies and solutions can provide manufacturers and service providers the competitive boost needed to win in the global marketplace,” said Burnstein.
Attendees will be able to join “Expert Huddles” held across the Automate show floor, giving them a chance to watch demos and ask industry experts questions ranging from machine vision, robotics, and supply chain automation, motion control to automation strategy, safety, workforce development and machine learning.
Other Automate 2017 highlights:
- Panel discussion on jobs in the automation age, Monday, April 3
- International Federation of Robotics (IFR) CEO roundtable, Monday, April 3
- Forum on “Investing in Automation,” Wednesday, April 5
- Startup Launch Pad Competition –Wednesday, April 5
For more information about Automate 2017, including a full rundown of the exhibitors and registration, visit http://www.automateshow.com/