PwC: Success of robotics in manufacturing hinges on finding skilled workers

According to a new report by PwC and The Manufacturing Institute, companies will only be able to embrace robotics by building a workforce that can better leverage the technological advances.

While there's no shortage of growth in the industrial robotics industry, barriers to mass manufacturer adoption still prevail due to cost, a lack of perceived need and access to employees who hold the proper expertise and skills.

That's according to a new report released Wednesday by PwC and The Manufacturing Institute, which suggests that while 59 percent of companies are currently using some form of robotics technology, disparities between technological innovation and manufacturer adoption still exist.

"As companies continue to embrace robotics and other types of automation and become more data-driven, their success will largely hinge on shaping and building a workforce that can better leverage such technological advances," said Gardner Carrick, VP of The Manufacturing Institute. "To do that, manufacturers are feeling a growing need to pull from a wider and deeper pool of talent."

On the positive side, however, the report highlighted the ability of industrial robotics to further the reshoring trend within manufacturing. PwC's report found that automation technology could make it easier for manufacturers to be closer to their local customers, potentially leading to previously offshored manufacturing outfits to be moved back to the US. 

That's a theory that will likely prove useful for the industrial robotics industry, since 27 percent of respondents in the PwC report said the biggest impact they expect to see from robotics on the US manufacturing workforce is the replacement of workers. The report suggests that a greater robotic workforce could not only lead to reshoring but also the need for more human talent to manage the robotic workplace.