IndustryWeek Library

Robots, Humans and the Future of Work

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Until fairly recently, robots have served one primary purpose: to overcome the physiological limitations of human beings. They allow us to lift the unliftable and move the unmovable at speeds beyond natural comprehension. In the process, they have allowed us to build bigger, better products, to grow and develop our society and meet its expanding needs. They gave our industries superhuman strength, leaving us to handle the human-powered work.

Traditionally, this has meant human workers being left with the remaining repetitive tasks—running small, detailed operations, piece after piece, every shift, every day, forever without end. However—as carpel tunnel cases and end-of-shift quality metrics can attest—this work runs counter to how both our bodies and our minds work. Simply put, it's not what humans are for.

And now, robots are beginning to save us from this as well. But in the process, we need to ask ourselves a very serious question: If humans aren't pallet trucks or pick-and-place machines anymore, then what is our role in manufacturing?

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This collection covers:

Meet Your New Robot Co-Worker

Lean and Robots

Robot Safety

5 Rules for Designing for Automation

The End of Bench Manufacturing

Travis Hessman
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Travis Hessman is the editor-in-chief and senior content director for IndustryWeek and New Equipment Digest. He began his career as an intern at IndustryWeek in 2001 and later served as IW's technology and innovation editor. Today, he combines his experience as an educator, a writer, and a journalist to help address some of the most significant challenges in the manufacturing industry, with a particular focus on leadership, training, and the technologies of smart manufacturing.

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