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Collaborative Robots Entering the Factory Floor

Why We Need HR

Collaborative Robots Entering the Factory Floor

Why We Need HR

Samenvatting

Using the latest industrial robot technology, the collaborative robot (cobot), industrial manufacturers work towards high-mix low-volume production systems that could satisfy a diversifying customer demand. As the utilization of the cobot’s potential depends on the dynamic interaction with operators, one would expect HR professionals to play a central role in this implementation process. However, cobot-related literature is unanimous: HR is not involved.
This is in line with the results of our study in 2019 on seventeen cobot experiments in Dutch industrial manufacturing companies. To explore what human cobot collaboration emerges when engineers and line managers take the lead in their design, we revisited the data from our previous interview study (N=53). HR was absent in all implementations.
We found that line managers and engineers prepared operators for rigid human-cobot collaborations that were aimed at getting the cobot to work, enhancing production efficiency and handling a few batches of mass-produced goods (low-mix, high-volume). Furthermore, the collaborations all showed signs of being difficult to sustain over time and posed a direct threat to operators’ well-being.
To protect operators’ future of work and build towards interdependent human-cobot collaboration suitable for high-mix low-volume production, we propose an approach in which operators themselves, and HR too, are much more involved in the cobot implementation process. Operators should be allowed and supported to design, program, operate, and repair as much of their human-cobot workstations themselves as possible. To support this, HR has to familiarize itself with the cobot technology, secure operators’ decision latitude, facilitate the required support, and become the work design expert that helps operators co-design sustainable cobot applications that optimally utilize the strengths of both man and machine.

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OrganisatieSaxion
AfdelingAcademie AMA
LectoraatHuman Capital in Smart Industry
Datum2020-04-01
TypeRapport
TaalEngels

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