The global Covid-19 pandemic has led a significant amount of people to re-evaluate their working lives. Many have decided to turn away from roles that are repetitive, lack progression opportunities or pose risks to their mental or physical wellbeing. Cobots are providing an answer to this recruitment and retention challenge by freeing workers from the dullest or riskiest tasks on the production line and helping employers create more efficient workflows.
The pandemic is leaving a lasting impact on our working lives. Significant numbers of people have been made redundant across the globe, but millions more have intentionally left their jobs in search of new opportunities.
This trend is having a big impact on companies that rely heavily on manual work, like those in the food and beverage sector. In the UK alone, it’s predicted that these businesses will need to find an additional 140,000 workers by 2024 to ensure they can continue to operate. And globally, one billion people will need to be reskilled by 2030 across all sectors, including F&B.
Companies need a cost-effective, space-saving solution that circumvents issues such as worker recruitment and retention, skills shortages, fluctuations in productivity and health and safety concerns. That’s where cobots come in.
A different recruitment landscape
Labour shortages are proving challenging for even the most well-resourced businesses. And while raising salaries may not be an option for some companies, money is not the only reason people are choosing other opportunities. 78% of manual workers left their roles due to a lack of engagement or career advancement prospects, rather than concerns over their salary. Even if businesses manage to fill vacancies, poor retention rates still threaten their profitability. It can often take months to onboard someone properly, costing companies in terms of turnover and lost productivity.
Globally, unemployment is still higher than it was in 2019 (6.6% vs 5.3%). Yet greater numbers of people who are out of work seem to be in this position by choice. OECD’s Employment Outlook 2021 revealed that the number of ‘economically inactive people’, who are neither seeking work nor currently in employment, has risen by 14 million since 2019. Furthermore, 25% of the food and beverage workforce are due to retire in the next decade. This means it is now even harder to businesses to fill roles with people with fewer candidates to choose from.
An automated answer
Cobots are transforming production and manufacturing environments, and helping businesses better utilise the people they do have. For food and beverage businesses in particular, these intuitive machines are taking on a range of picking, placing, palletizing and packaging tasks at the end of the production line.
Rather than replacing workers, cobots are a solution to both parts of the recruitment challenge. These machines can step in to tackle heavy, tedious or unpleasant tasks, freeing their human colleagues up for more high-value work that requires more thought or a considered human touch.
Investing in a cost-saving solution
One of the key factors that stops companies investing in new technology is how cost-prohibitive it appears. Rising global energy costs, inflation, and higher wage bills are squeezing food and beverage manufacturers’ cost margins and limiting the ability to invest in innovation. But automating tasks is the key to reducing costs and maximizing profitability over the long term.
Research from Forrester shows that, over the course of a five-year study across French manufacturing firms, the use of robots cut production overheads and led to a 4-6% reduction in labour costs. Our cobots typically achieve ROI in 12 months or less, helping companies turn investment into long-term, sustainable growth. Additionally, the ability to reprogram each machine to perform a different task in just a few hours makes them a hugely versatile addition to your team.
You can read a lot more about how cobots are currently changing the world of work in the Food & Beverage industry here.