Apart from new jobs, are there any other effects of robots on employment?
Robots open new career prospects for those who, due to their age or sex (e.g. the legal limits on heavy lifting by women at work) could not work in certain industries before. We should also remember that the amount of investment and project profitability is not only influenced by labour costs. There are the cost related to logistics, renting the space, waste (quality errors) and accidents when parts are moved manually. I believe that human capital is an invaluable asset of each company not to be given up. The use of automated processes allows you to save money in other cost-generating areas.
Weren’t you afraid of such a big investment? What dissipated your doubts, if any?
Robotisation was a strategic decision made on the basis of long-term calculations. If it was unprofitable, surely we would not have made it.
Are you planning any new robot implementations?
Yes, we are currently commissioning another two production lines composed of five robots and a smaller line with three robots, based on the processes of riveting, bonding and laser welding.
The automotive industry, in which you operate, is one of the most highly automated industries.
In our industry, robots are essential. It stems from the ever-increasing qualitative and quantitative requirements and the technological advancement of processes in which manual work would be very dangerous, and in some cases – even impossible. This is true e.g. for the processes using laser technologies.
However, other industries are not coping that well with new technologies. Do you think that in Poland traditional solutions are still more profitable than high-tech?
We are aware that some companies reduce the investment costs by using manual processes first, and automating them later. We believe this doubles the amount of work and the costs as well. Besides, the manual implementation of a product onto the market may affect its quality and, in turn, have catastrophic consequences for the company.
Are non-robot companies able to successfully compete with robotised companies?
There is no unambiguous answer to that. It is the nature of the product that determines the corresponding manufacturing process. Also in our industry, the one hundred percent elimination of manual processes is impossible, because in certain processes human skills are irreplaceable. In order for the company to be competitive, it needs to find the right balance between the manual and the automatic.