News | Published January 11 2020

Job creation possibilities spring from automation for companies like Oldham Seals Group

According to ABI Research, by 2022 autonomous mobile robots (AMR) will start to overtake the traditional industrial robotics market. By 2030, 8 million robots are forecast to be shipped, nearly 6 million of which will be mobile. Workers and trade groups have long worried about the impact automation and robotics will have on blue collar jobs – and perhaps they’re right to be concerned. 

Automatons will eventually replace humans in certain job functions, as they have done already in some sectors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be fewer jobs available.

One company that has truly embraced automation is Oldham Seals Group, which has been designing and manufacturing polymer-engineered products for a variety of industries, including naval and civilian shipping, as well as the oil and gas sectors since 1964. The Parliamentary Review spoke with managing director Chris Oldham about the impact automation has had on his business. Oldham said,

“We provide tailored rubber pipe systems to a wide range of warships and submarines, including supplying the Royal Navy. To ensure consistency in our products, we have recently implemented an automated robotic manufacturing process. Utilising this new technology, we are now able to manufacture a variety of products for the Royal Navy with a greater level of uniformity than was previously possible with human engineers.”

Some have argued that by leaning on robots to do a human’s work, you lose a certain standard or quality from an end product. Car owners who remember wooden panels and dashboards, and handcrafted features have long lamented the impact automation has had on vehicle quality. According to Oldham, robotic manufacturing as come a long way,

“Human engineers will always have different nuances, which may impact the standardisation of a product range. Robotic manufacturing produces a far higher level of consistency. This new process also helps to prevent waste by almost entirely eradicating the existence of any rejected products.”

Oldham also speaks about the impact this has had on his staff,

“While this significantly increases our standardisation, it does not impact or decrease our levels of employment. Rather than replacing staff, it merely creates new roles. This increased automation creates the need for a new type of operator, replacing the traditional fabrication process.

“Our manufacturing process incorporates every possible type of product within our field, from hydraulic hoses to more complex rubber pipe systems. We are able to design and produce all of these items on-site, a service that is unique to our company. This range allows us to service all the possible needs our clients require in one location.”

Employers considering automation of their manufacturing process could certainly learn from Oldham Seals Group’s experience, and their staff can take some solace that robots are not necessarily going to ‘take their jobs’, but provide opportunities for new employment.

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Authored by

The Parliamentary Review

January 11 2020

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