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Global Megatrends Shaping the Future of Production: Demographic Change

Historically, industrial revolutions have always happened hand-in-hand with demographic change, typically leading to population growth. The 4th Industrial Revolution is different: digital technologies, AI, and industrial robotics are in part a solution to questions of work in an aging society.

Planning for demographic change

In the coming years, industrial and emerging nations will have to come to terms with many different aspects of demographic change. But one demographic change in particular will carry tremendous influence over industry: an aging society, in which the percentage of older people rises while the percentage of children falls.

Rising global prosperity and medical advancements have led to a growing life expectancy the world over. At the same time, birth rates have dropped drastically worldwide, particularly in industrialized and emerging countries. According to forecasts, people over 65 will comprise between 20 and 30% of the total population in many countries by 2060.

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017). World Population Prospects: 2017 Revision.

The future of work in an aging society

This demographic trend carries tremendous implications for the labor market. In the years to come, proportionally fewer and fewer skilled workers will comprise the global workforce.

In order to avoid a skills shortage, companies must not only maintain and improve the health, expertise, and motivation of existing employees, but also establish a reputation as an attractive employer among young workers.

Furthermore, personnel requirements can be reduced by automating many tasks and processes. Industrial automation can free up the existing workforce for more challenging and fulfilling tasks that demand human creativity and ingenuity.

Automation and human-robot collaboration: the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Particularly in the industrial sector, intelligent automation solutions play a meaningful role in creating an appealing work environment and preventing personnel shortages.

By automating monotonous, repetitive, and physically demanding tasks, digital manufacturing technologies make it possible to capitalize on uniquely human capabilities and strengths in other areas, thus promoting the health and motivation of employees.

One example are collaborative robots (cobots): responsive robots designed to work hand-in-hand with human workers. In the 4th Industrial Revolution, widespread human-robot collaboration  will open up entirely new concepts for increasing productivity without the need for additional skilled personnel. Cobots simultaneously lighten the physical and psychological burden on the employees while also ensuring that production results are consistent and of a very high standard.

Embracing the 4th Industrial Revolution with technologies by KUKA

For industry to address demographic change, automation must be embraced sooner rather than later. The most efficient and sustainable path towards the production landscape of tomorrow is through the implementation of versatile, adaptable technologies with intuitively operable user interfaces.

KUKA is able to draw on its vast portfolio of products and services to program, operate and refine industrial robots and entire production systems in a straightforward manner. From ready2use packages and collaborative lightweight robots that are programmable by way of simulation right through to comprehensive services – get started preparing your company and employees for the challenges posed by the industrial economy of the future.

In future production landscapes, humans and robots work hand in hand.