How Robotics and Automation will Change Australian Businesses

New technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and advanced robotics are already transforming businesses in Australia. These changes are set to continue as technology advances. They will bring with them incredible opportunities for individual businesses and the Australian economy overall. They will also change working life for more than a million workers. 

McKinsey produced a report, “Australia’s automation opportunity: Reigniting productivity and inclusive income growth” which takes a closer look at these opportunities. It provides information about why Australia should accelerate the use of automation in order to optimise the benefits and achieve success. 

Not everyone is as positive about the changes that automation and robotics will bring. Some people think that the result will be fewer opportunities for human employees. However, the opposite should happen. Let’s look at the changes that will happen and why they should be beneficial.

The potential benefits of automation in Australian businesses

Australia is already embracing Industry 4.0. This is the term that is used for the transition in the way we produce and manufacture things. It represents the fourth revolution in manufacturing. Industry 4.0 has already brought about many changes and they will continue bringing with them several potential benefits including:

  •   Reduced risk of workplace injury as robots take over dangerous activities. This helps to protect employees and reduces the risk of businesses being found liable for injury. 
  • Excellent financial returns for businesses that invest in automation. This happens as processes become more efficient and less open to human error or fraud. The reduction in error and fraud reduces losses and improves profits. 
  • More interesting and better-paid career opportunities for people who work alongside automated systems. This happens as people move from carrying out boring and repetitive work to more creative tasks. 

There are already some good examples of businesses and organisations getting the benefit of using automation. One example is the Royal Adelaide Hospital in South Australia. Here, robots use trolleys to deliver linen, meals, and pharmacy supplies. 

The dairy industry is also changing due to the use of robotics. In some instances, there is little human interaction with the cattle at all; even milking is automated. This means that dairy farms can potentially operate at reduced cost. 

As more businesses automate their systems, the Australian Government is supporting efforts to embrace industry 4.0 technologies. This includes an increase in funding to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The funding increased from $803.6 million in the financial year 2017-2018 to $843.7 million in the year 2018-2019.

Technologies that will be central to Australian business in the future

Several technologies are central to the ongoing changes that robotics and automation are making to Australian businesses. It’s interesting to look at four of these technologies in more detail. This includes discussing what they are and how they can be useful. 

Robotics

Traditionally, the definition of a robot was a man-made device that could be programmed to move and operate by itself. However, the area of robotics also includes devices such as woodcutting machines, washing machines and dishwashers. These machines operate thanks to specially designed software. Businesses can integrate robotics into their processes in order to improve efficiency.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

The use of software, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) within a business is known as robotic process automation (RPA). It can be used to help with tasks that are repetitious and high volume such as maintaining records and processing calculations. RPA brings a reduction in risk to a business as robots normally make no errors. 

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an integral part of the robotics and automation that are changing Australian businesses. This branch of computer science is involved with creating smart machines. These machines can complete tasks that normally require the use of human intelligence. They are developed using machine learning technology. 

One use of AI which is starting to have a major impact on businesses is helping with decision making based on big data. This can help to enhance the customer experience and improve the finances and sales of a business.

3D printing

3D printing is quite different from the traditional printing that people are used to. It involves the manufacture of three-dimensional objects by layering different types of material like wood and metal. The process uses computer aided design (CAD), a computer aided manufacturing (CAM) program, or a 3D scanner to create the object.

 

In summary

Robotics and automation are already changing Australian businesses for the better and will continue to do so in the coming years. The use of technologies such as RPA and AI will change business overall by helping organisations to improve efficiency and productivity. Adopting automation also means that a business can release employees to other work. This helps to motivate employees and is also an advantage to the business, 

This is because the work is often more interesting, and higher paid. It helps the business by providing skilled employees in the long term. Overall, there is no doubt that the changes brought about by robotics and automation are positive for businesses and employees. They will also help to optimise the health of the Australian economy over the next 15 years and beyond.

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