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Fresh look at the use of robots shows positive effect of automation

A fresh look at the European Manufacturing Survey 2009 confirms that robots are not "job killers". In fact, there is neither negative nor positive effect on the number of jobs in firms around Europe. The 2012 update confirms the trend that firms using industrial robots achieve significantly higher levels of productivity in their manufacturing processes although the high costs of automation is a barrier.

Companies using industrial robots obtain superior efficiency in their manufacturing processes compared to non-users and this is a factor that helps companies retain competitive production lines in Europe. Automation also helps keeping different steps in the production line in-house, which adds value to the production and increases the labour productivity.

Looking at the number of robots used in manufacturing it was found that 48% of Spanish firms and 44% of Danish firms used at least one industrial robot in their factories in 2009. In Germany, only 29% of the firms use robots. While Spain and Denmark have a lot of medium sized companies with a degree of automation in Germany it is manly large industrial firms such as the automobile industry, which use robots in the production.

Given the advantages in terms of quality, flexibility and productivity a company has over the competition if it uses robots in the manufacturing process the study carried out by Fraunhofer ISI and Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences sees the reduction of investment costs for especially Small- and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) as one of the most important recommendations resulting from the study.

The in-depth analysis covered Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland and accounted for a total sample of 3,228 enterprises in the manufacturing industry with at least 20 employees in the selected countries. A re-run of this study with more recent figures is planned.


Analysis of the impact of robotic systems on employment in the European Union update