Can cheap, flexible robots assist workers to make US manufacturing globally competitive?

An article in Bloombergbusinessweek (September 24, 2012) describes new robots announced by Rethink Robotics, priced at $ 22,000 and reprogrammable to assist workers with repititive tasks. Teaching the robot requires simulating the steps by moving its arms, after which the robot repeats the steps. Armed with cameras and flexible arms, the inexpensive robot is meant to work next to workers, enabling them to become more productive. Will a new US manufacturing worker as a supoervisor of robots enable US manufacturing to regain its competitiveness ? Would the reliability of manufacturing close to design locations in the US, with robot assisted production, improve product designs and protect intellectual property ? Does the vulnerability of the global supply chain demand having such a capability at least as a backup to the existing supply base ?

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About aviyer2010

Professor
This entry was posted in Global Contexts, Operations Management, Supply Chain Issues and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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