Robots can make it easier to keep jobs here


Can robots help Canadian manufacturing firms keep their production lines here and save some local jobs in the process? Saibal Ray thinks so.

The McGill University management professor, an expert in operations management, says many Canadian manufacturing firms have failed to appreciate the potential benefits of incorporating robots into their local production lines.

The biggest advantage of moving manufacturing operations to China is the low labour costs there. But Ray noted that adding automation to a production line in Canada can reduce that advantage considerably, making it easier for companies to keep at least some jobs here.

Low interest rates make such investments more affordable now, he added.

"You are reducing the labour content and that means there are fewer reasons to go to China or any low-cost country."

But although new specialists will have to be hired or trained to run and maintain the robots, some local jobs will usually still be lost as a result of the automation, he noted.

Still, sometimes new local jobs can be added when a company invests in robots.

That's what one Montreal leather-goods firm experienced when it added a robotic cutting machine to its production line.

The company, M0851 Inc., is expanding its Montreal staff after investing $500,000 in the cutting equipment, which it says will enable it to keep making its leather products here to supply its growing international network of retail outlets...

Read full article: The Gazette, February 10, 2012