Unraveling the U-Curve of robotic deployment productiveness


College of Cambridge researchers discovered that robots can lower productiveness within the brief time period however can enhance it in the long run.

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A gaggle of researchers on the College of Cambridge discovered that robots can lower productiveness within the brief time period however can enhance it in the long run. This U-shaped phenomenon is because of the relationship between lowering prices, growing new processes and innovating new merchandise.

The researchers studied business knowledge from the UK and 24 different European nations between 1995 and 2017 compiled by the European Union (EU). Whereas robots have been proven to boost labor productiveness at an business or nation stage reliably, it hasn’t been studied how robots have an effect on revenue margins at an identical macro scale.

Whereas the info didn’t permit the researchers to look at developments on the stage of particular person firms, they have been in a position to have a look at entire sectors, primarily in manufacturing the place robots are generally used. Combining the EU knowledge with robotics knowledge from the Worldwide Federation of Robotics (IFR) database.

Evaluating these two units of information, the workforce was capable of analyze the impact of robotics on revenue margins at a rustic stage. The researchers then carried out a collection of interviews with an American medical tools producer to check their experiences with robotic adoption. In all, the workforce discovered that at low ranges of adoption, robots have a unfavorable impact on revenue margins, however, at larger ranges of adoption, robots can enhance income.

“Initially, companies are adopting robots to create a aggressive benefit by decreasing prices,” co-author of the research Chander Velu from Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing mentioned. “However course of innovation is affordable to repeat, and rivals will even undertake robots if it helps them make their merchandise extra cheaply. This then begins to squeeze margins and cut back revenue margin.”

In line with the researchers, many firms undertake robotic expertise as a result of they need to lower prices. This ‘course of innovation’ might be simply copied by rivals, reducing prices throughout the business and creating smaller margins for everybody. As soon as these firms shift their focus from streamlining their processes to product innovation, which can provide them higher market energy and the power to distinguish from rivals, income enhance.

“If you begin bringing increasingly more robots into your course of, ultimately you attain a degree the place your entire course of must be redesigned from the underside up,” mentioned Velu. “It’s essential that firms develop new processes concurrently they’re incorporating robots, in any other case they may attain this similar pinch level.”

The analysis workforce mentioned that if firms need to attain the worthwhile aspect of the U-shaped curve extra shortly, then they need to deal with adapting their enterprise mannequin concurrently with robotic adoption. Firms can solely use the ability of robotics to develop new merchandise and drive income after robots are absolutely built-in into the enterprise mannequin.

This analysis was revealed within the journal IEEE Transactions on Engineering Administration. It was supported by the Engineering and Bodily Sciences Analysis Council (EPSRC) and the Financial and Social Analysis Council (ESRC), that are each a part of UK Analysis and Innovation (UKRI). Chander Velu is a Fellow of Selwyn Faculty, Cambridge. Duncan McFarlane, one other co-author on the research, is a Fellow of St John’s Faculty, Cambridge.


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