Yellow robots welding cars in a production lineAudi has one of the most flexible auto manufacturing plants in Neckarsulm, Germany. The side airbags for the driver were given the names of girls while the steering wheels were given boys’ names.

Some of the other components have been named according to the seasons and places, which makes it easier for floor workers at the factory to sort through them and install them. Also, the naming makes it easier for auto recycling companies to recycle certain parts towards the end of the vehicle’s life.

The Machine’s Role

Today’s robot has the ability to read 12-digit products for identification codes within a microsecond. Despite this growing intelligence, a lot of auto executives say that these machines cannot handle the enormous complexity that humans are capable of handling. At the auto manufacturing plant in Audi, humans have the ability to handle six model lines, and they can assemble 21 vehicle derivatives. The production boss at Audi, Hubert Waltl, says that the sensors we see today still cannot replace the human touch. The advantage of a human is how they can reach into a box and instantly recognize the larger piece from the smaller one. Unfortunately, machines still do not have that ability.

The Greatest Challenge Facing Logistics Managers

There is an ongoing trend that has technology expanding closer to individualization and niche models. That has sometimes created obstacles for logistics managers, but at the same time, this could be another step closer to better automation in the factory. One of the widely held views here is how the futuristic smart factory will replace the factory worker of yesterday with intelligent computer algorithms. Within the United States, an estimated 47 percent of employers will risk being replaced by the upcoming smart factory. This could happen in as few as one to two decades. What that means, however, is that there will be an increased need for professionals who work in the computerized industries. Where one door closes, another opens. These predictions are based on a study that Oxford University published in 2013.

The Situation in Switzerland

Switzerland’s manufacturing jobs have already been hit hard by the future of automation. They have a strong currency and investors were trying to pile into some of the safer assets of the country like the Swiss franc. In June 2016, a referendum was held on whether or not citizens had a right to receive unconditional basic income. That referendum only increased the fears that machines could increasingly crowd factory workers out of their jobs through a more automated workplace. Because of these fears, there were hundreds of people rallying in Zurich dressed as cardboard robots. They were urging people to vote in favor of the new proposal, but it failed.

Incentives to Maintain a Human Workforce

Frank Appel, the CEO for Deutsche Post, proposed that they tax robots to maintain the human workforc. This new automation society does present a few problems for mankind as more robots become the norm. Scientists of Germany are alarmed that people are not taking enough action towards this growing problem. Robotics could seen have a much higher importance than ever before. Where the problem comes in at is how researchers said that the domestic industrial robots only rose seven percent from 2011 to 2014. That is compared to double and sometimes even triple the growth rates that major manufacturing companies like China have done. Because Germany has not kept pace with some of the other countries, they could drop notches in the coming years to the fifth place ranking.

The greatest risk exists with the car manufacturers because they have the greatest chances of being overtaken by their rivals if they do not maintain a more robotic workforce. There’s an estimated 1,149 robots for every 10,000 works. That is fewer than Japan, and it is only the same as what South Korea and the United States have. Traditionally, robots have mostly been used for the more strenuous and dangerous work that requires complete accuracy. Those tasks include sheet metal stamping, the body frame welding or gluing a windshield into place. For these situations, a clean room is required and paint will be layered onto a vehicle for the best results.