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Advantages of Robotics Technology

The organization discussed in this report is a Brisbane-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) company that is interested in using robotics for domestic use and in manufacturing, transportation and mining industries across Australia. Currently, the organization is using robotics on small scale and is planning to expand this usage so as to attain a competitive advantage of its rivals. It is also planning to diversify and expand its operation across Australia and the entire Asian region in the next five years. One of the core competencies that the organization is planning to leverage when implementing this expansion strategy is ICT. Therefore the purpose of this report is to establish appropriate ways on how the organization can leverage the use of robotics as one of the most significant technologies for successful implementation of the planned expansion strategy. The objectives of the report include to: investigate various applications of robotic technology in work and home environments; establish the positives and negatives of using robotics in home and work environments; identify mechanisms of overcoming negatives associated with use of robotics; determine appropriate techniques of incorporating robotics technology in the organization’s operations; identify ethical, social and legal considerations when incorporating robotics technology in the organizations operations; and establish how robotic technology will improve the business of the organization.

One of the assumptions made in this report is that the organization has the required resources to incorporate robotics technology in its operations. Another assumption is that the entire process of incorporating robotic technology in the organization’s business operations will not negatively affect the performance of the organization. Lastly, it is assumed that the organization’s business plan is flexible enough to accommodate changes that will be accompanied with implementation of the planned expansion strategy. The problem discussed in this report has been investigated by collecting information from various sources that is useful for achieving each of the objectives stated above. Other sections of the report include: conclusion and recommendations.

Robotics technology is a term referring to the science of conception, design, construction/manufacture, operation/use and development of robots. A robot is an automated or programmable machine that is used to perform various tasks under different scenarios with minimal or no human interaction (Vex Robotics, 2015). There are different types of robots, which have varied applications. The following are some types of robots based on their application: industrial robots, household or domestic robots, medical robots, military robots, service robots, space robots, transportation robots, agricultural robots, etc. Industrial robots are those that are designed to perform different tasks in the manufacturing and production process. Examples of these are material handling robots, welding robots, painting robots, palletizing robots, assembly robots, etc. Mining and manufacturing robots are under the category of industrial robots. Household or domestic robots are those that are used to perform numerous household tasks. They include: pool cleaner, sewer cleaner, gutter cleaner, vacuum cleaner, sweeper, lawn mower and mobile webcam robots, among others. Transportation robots are those that are used to move people or goods/products from one place to another. These include autonomous cars, automated trucks, shipping robots, traffic control robots, autopilot, etc.

Disadvantages of Robotics Technology

Today, robots are being used in all parts of the world, for various purposes. The use of robots is projected to increase over the next years as many companies and individuals leverage on technology to automate most of their activities (Heires, 2016). For instance, according to International Federation of Robotics (2016), 1.4 million industrial robots are expected to be installed in factories worldwide between 2016 and 2019. The global robotics market is also projected to exceed $188 billion in 2020 (Wang, 2017). Robotics spending is also anticipated to increase across various regions in the next decade. Asia/Pacific region is expected to lead in robotic spending followed by the Americas, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). For these reasons, the plan by the organization to use robotic technology in its expansion strategy is a positive step.

There are numerous advantages associated with use of robots. It is important to understand these advantages so as to capitalize on them (Qureshi and Syed, 2014). Some of these advantages are as follows:

Increase efficiency

Robots have the ability to complete tasks faster and more accurately. They perform tasks based on automated processes that make it easier to meet the specific needs of the customer. In other words, robots increase efficiency by completing tasks quickly and precisely even under challenging working conditions (Essers and Vaneker, 2013).

Reduce production costs

Use of robots significantly reduce human labor because they can replace numerous workers. These robots also have less maintenance requirements. Therefore robots reduce labor and maintenance costs, and production of defective products, which lower the total production cost (Young, 2015).   

Reduce cycle times

Robots are able to work at constant speeds without stopping for breaks, vacation, breaks or leave. This enables them to produce more products within a shorter period of time thus saving time. This is very advantageous especially when the company receives urgent orders.

Increase quality and reliability

Robots perform tasks with very high precision, which leads to production of high quality products. They ensure that tasks are performed in accordance with desired specifications and quality standards. The robots work continuously and their repair and maintenance are very infrequent.

Increase production

Robots are able to perform tasks faster and more accurately than humans. These machines are automated and can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at the same speed and accuracy (Granta, 2016). This results to greater production of quality products in less time (Muro and Andes, 2015).

Implementation of Robotics Technology for the Organization

Reduce waste

Robots are very accurate and enable appropriate allocation and use of resources. This significantly reduces wastes along the entire work process (Calderone, 2015).

Increase profitability

With improved efficiency of the production process, reduced waste, increased product quality, reduced production costs and reduced cycle times, robots make it possible to achieve greater profitability levels. This also reduces the cost per product thus attracting more customers and increasing product demand. 

Improve safety

Robots are used to perform dangerous, repetitive and highly laborious tasks, which usually compromise the safety of workers. The robots can also work efficiently under almost any kind of conditions (Stringer, 2014). Thus using robots improve the safety and overall conditions of the working environment.

Despite the numerous advantages, robots also have some advantages. These include:

Higher initial capital and maintenance cost

The capital required to purchase and install robots is usually high, making use of robots a capital-intensive decision for many companies (Sravani, 2016). After installation, the cost of maintaining the robots is also high even though the maintenance is not done more frequently.  

Employee training cost

Use of robots does not rule out human workers from the company. The robots need human assistance, meaning that the company has to train its employees on how to work with the robots. 

Increase unemployment rate

Use of robots replaces employees doing most of the manual work in companies, which increases unemployment rate (Seegrid Corporation, 2013).

Limited functionality

Most robots can only perform tasks they have been designed. This makes them unable to perform when the working conditions or requirements change unexpectedly. The robots cannot also improve their performance because they perform based on their predefined programming (Soffar, 2016).

Dangerous

Robots can be very dangerous especially if they malfunction or get infected with viruses. It is worth noting that robots are programmable machines and therefore can do almost anything if they malfunction, which makes them very dangerous to humans and the environment where they are used. This is also escalated by the fact that robots cannot think on what to do when they malfunction.

Security

A robot can be hacked, controlled and used by unintended person to commit crimes or perform other malicious activities. If this happens, the damage may be great and very difficult to reverse. 

Considering the advantages and disadvantages of using robots, the organization can incorporate robotic technology in its operations and this will enhance implementation of its expansion strategy. The organization should start by setting aside adequate resources to purchase and install the robots, hire robotic technology specialists and train its employees. After that, the organization should identify the most suitable domestic, mining, transportation and manufacturing robots based on their intended functions and the organization’s budget. Before installing and starting to use the robots, the organization should use its experts to check and ensure that the robots are properly programmed, have proper security features, are under total control of the organization and have full capacity to perform the intended functions optimally. The organization should also consider starting to implement robotic technology on a small scale, i.e. in some departments only, so as to get its employees familiarized with the technology and learn common challenges and how to overcome them. After sometime, the organization should then expand use of robotic technology in all its operations.   

Ethical, Social and Legal Considerations

Before implementing robotic technology, there are several ethical, social and legal issues that the organization should consider. Some of these include:

Unemployment

This is a major social issue because robots literally replace human labor leading to high unemployment rates. The robots may also affect the productivity and attitude of workers towards their colleagues and employers. On the other hand, use of robots is considered an ethical decision because they can perform tasks that could otherwise put the life of humans at risk. The organization should involve and seek support from all its employees before starting to use robots. 

Human interaction and influence of human behavior

The way humans interact with robots and how these machines influence human behavior is also an issue for consideration. For instance, some people support use of robots thus interact with them positively while others are against them considering their perceived negative impacts on humans. According to Coeckelbergh (2010), there is also the issue on whether robots respect human dignity or not. The organization has to ensure that employees interact positively with the robots through proper coordination and that the robots create better working environments for employees.

Liability

This is also a key issue of consideration when using robots. In most cases, there is an endless discussion on who should be responsible for mistakes made by or malfunction of robots between the programmer, manufacturer or user of the robot. The organization has to be certain about this issue by consulting relevant legal experts.

Rights of robots

It is also not yet certain on the rights of robots and how humans should treat them. For instance, there is a debate on whether humans should treat robots as animals, how they should reward them, whether they should consider their workloads and the emotions of robots (Heller, 2016; Robertson, 2014). The organization should find out on how the rights of robots should be observed.

Remaining in control

It is also important to consider what might happen if robots overpower humans in terms of intelligence and ingenuity (Bossmann, 2016). This definitely has a lot of consequences. In this regard, the organization has to ensure that it is always in control of the robots.

Unintended consequences

Sometimes robots can still perform the function it was designed for but cause unforeseen consequences that may be more damaging. In other words, these robots can also turn evil leading to terrible unintended consequences. Therefore the organization has to find techniques of minimizing chances of unintended consequences by closely observing the robot inputs and outputs.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Mistakes

Robots are designed, programmed and trained to perform particular tasks. With this, it is obvious that a robot cannot deal with all real world challenges. Also, these robots may be fooled or misled by conditions resulting to numerous mistakes (Lin, Abney and Bekey, 2012). If this happens, the targeted results may not be attained. The organization can overcome this by ensuring that the robots work in conditions they were predesigned to work in.

Security

There is also the issue of robots being used maliciously thus causing a lot of damage. People can also overpower the robots by coding them differently thus using them for their personal reasons. Issues such as reliability, safety and confidentiality of robots are also very important to be considered (Mavroforou et al., 2010). The organization has to ensure that the robots have up-to-date security features and that its robotic experts constantly monitor the security of the robots to avert any threats.

Trust

There is also the issue of whether everything done by robots should be trusted fully or if they have to be counterchecked by humans. The organization can overcome this issue by ensuring that its robots are controlled by experts and that the robots work in collaboration with human employees.

Conclusion

The purpose of this report was to establish appropriate ways on how the organization can leverage the use of robotics as one of the most significant technologies for successful implementation of its planned expansion strategy. This has been done by investigating several key issues associated with robotic technology including applications, advantages, disadvantages and ethical, social and legal issues of robots. From the research, it has been found that there are different types of robots that are used for varied applications including domestic, mining, manufacturing and transportation. These robots have both advantages and disadvantages. In addition, there are several ethical, social and legal issues that are associated with use of robots.

The findings of these report are very important as they provide useful information to the organization on how it should prepare and what to expect from incorporating robotic technology in its operations. As a matter of fact, implementation of robotic technology has several advantages, disadvantages, challenges, limitations and other issues. Thus findings in this report will help the organization to establish approaches of maximizing the advantages, minimizing disadvantages and overcoming challenges and other related issues. Therefore incorporating robotic technology will enable the organization to automate all time consuming, unsafe, tedious and repetitive tasks, and increase efficiencies, product quality and productivity. All these will result to reduced occupational, health and safety risks; reduced costs; increased profitability; and greater customer satisfaction, which are very important for successful execution of the organization’s expansion strategy.

This report has achieved its objectives because it has satisfactorily collected information about different types and applications of robots for domestic, mining, manufacturing, transportation and others; advantages and disadvantages of using robots; ethical, social and legal issues associated with use of robots and how to overcome them; and appropriate ways of incorporating robotics technology in the organization’s operations.

Incorporating robotic technology is a very good decision as it will play a key role towards successful implementation of the organization’s expansion strategy. For this reason, the organization should go ahead and implement this decision. The organization should involve all stakeholders at every stage of the implementation process and seek for their full support. This is because incorporating robotic technology in the organization’s operations will affect all stakeholders including employees, suppliers, customers, etc. Thus this process can only be successful if all these stakeholders are involved by seeking and considering their opinions and updating them on the progress made. Also, the organization has to set aside adequate resources needed to facilitate incorporation of robotic technology in its operations. It is also important for the organization to hire robotic technology experts and train its current employees on the use of robots. This will ensure smooth and successful incorporation of robotic technology in the organization’s operations. Additionally, it is important for the organization to involve specialists in analyzing perceived potentials, drawbacks and ethical, social and legal issues associated with use of robots. This will help in getting prepared on how to manage expectations, maximize advantages and minimize disadvantages of robots. Last but not least, the organization should closely monitor the impacts of use of robots so as to identify how to maximize their positives and minimize any negatives.     

Modern technology, particularly artificial intelligence, is playing a major role in improving efficiency of domestic, mining, manufacturing, transportation and other activities in all parts of the world. For this reason, incorporating robotic technology will help the organization to attain significant competitive advantage over its rivals and successfully implement its strategy of expanding business operations across Australia and Asian region.

References

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Calderone, L. (2015). Robots Help with Lean Manufacturing. Retrieved from https://www.roboticstomorrow.com/article/2015/06/robots-help-with-lean-manufacturing/6205/

Coeckelbergh, M. (2010). Health care, capabilities and al assertive technologies. Ethical Theory  and Moral Practice, Vol. 13, issue 2, pp. 181-190.

Essers, M.S. and Vaneker, T.H.J. (2013). Developing Concepts for Improved Efficiency of Robots Work Preparation. Procedia CIRP, Vol. 7, Issue 2013, pp. 515-520.

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Heller, N. (2016). If Animals Have Rights, Should Robots? Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/11/28/if-animals-have-rights-should-robots

Heires, K. (2016). Rise of the Robots. Retrieved from https://www.rmmagazine.com/2016/09/01/rise-of-the-robots/

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Retrieved from https://www.ibtimes.com/industrial-robots-could-be-16-less-costly-employ-people-2025-1811980

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