ROBOTS AND THE FUTURE OF JOBS

Albuquerque, NM: What do you think of when you hear the word “robot”? Some think of Roombas or self-driving cars, others think of computers or R2-D2. Robots do many things: automating fast food, construction, manufacturing, and, more recently, disinfecting.

Just because a job is manual does not mean it will be automated by robots. It is more likely that an industry uses robots because they need them. In 2018, Deloitte estimated a potential shortage of 2.4 million manufacturing workers in the next decade. Among the reasons for the workforce shortages were:

  1. shifting skill sets due to the introduction of advanced technologies
  2. misperceptions of manufacturing jobs
  3. and retirement of baby boomers

The way of work is changing, and some countries have adapted quicker than others. China, for example, has adopted almost as many robots as the rest of the world combined over the last 10 years. With a looming skills gap in technology and a workforce shortage, an opportunity to educate and innovate presents itself. But first, we have to show people that robots can and should be the solution.

Resisting Robots

The resistance to robots is not new; PEW research found that only a third of Americans (33%) believe automation would create new, better-paying jobs for humans.

For the most part, Americans consider this scenario [replacing all jobs] to be plausible, express more worry than enthusiasm about the prospect of machines performing many human jobs, and anticipate more negative than positive outcomes” (PEW, 2017).

The common belief with robotic automation is that a human job will be replaced. And that was, in fact, the initial thought when Breezy OneTM entered Albuquerque’s International Sunport.

Breezy OneTM is the first autonomous disinfecting robot built to offer efficient, hands-free, and safe sanitization specifically designed for large-scale facilities. The unionized janitors at the Sunport felt threatened, seeing Breezy as a way to cut back on janitorial staffing when travel halted due to COVID-19. However, this was not the case. The Sunport’s custodial staff became the champions of Breezy, ultimately seeing the autonomous robot as a tool to add to their daily routines.

“People think of us like we’re just janitors; it’s good to have someone care about our safety”.

 

Is a Robot Going to Take My Job?

The short answer is: maybe. However, many factors affect this, and most roboticists are not trying to replace people.

In time, practically any job can be taken by robots. A painter, a teacher, and an electrician all have extremely different jobs.

  • Painting is a repetitive motion and is something that can be automated quite easily.
  • Teachers’ jobs are made easier every day with online programs, videos, and more – one day they may not be needed at all.
  • Electricians have a complicated job, but with enough programming, even that can be automated, making fewer mistakes than humans would.

However, someone has to be there to choose what paint goes into the robot; someone has to be there to observe it and keep it functional. Students need personal support that a robot will not be able to provide. Last, complex jobs like wiring a home will require copious amounts of programming. While everyone’s jobs could be in danger, they really aren’t. There will always be reasons that people are needed. Nobody’s job is truly in danger because most robots made today are designed to assist people, not replace them.

As the case with, Chris Ziomek, CEO of Build with Robots, who has worked in robotics for over 20 years and built Breezy OneTM to support workers, not displace them.

“We’re not trying to replace workers; we’re trying to support them by giving them a better tool and keeping them safer.” – Chris Ziomek, CEO at Build With Robots.

Chris Ziomek, CEO of Build with Robots, has worked in robotics for over 20 years and built Breezy OneTM to support workers, not displace them.

“We’re not trying to replace workers; we’re trying to support them by giving them a better tool and keeping them safer.” – Chris Ziomek, CEO at Build With Robots.

What Are We Doing?

Build with Robots was founded around a team that adapts, learns, and fights together to improve the lives of our team, our customers, our partners, and our community. If we do that right, we become a force for good. We do this by:

  • Offering paid internships to youth in our community,
  • Paying for courses for our workers to attend local universities and community colleges,
  • Paying for professional development,
  • Volunteering and teaching courses in the community, and
  • Donating scholarships to students.

When we look to the future, robotics and automation will be there, but so will the people we support and believe in.

*Come back next time to find out how robots in schools can bridge our gap in skills.

What does it mean to be clean?

Albuquerque, NM: My name’s Tyanne Hawthorne. I am the newest and youngest team member at Build With Robots.

I am a marketing intern, and I personally hate cleaning. This is ironic for a person that works at a company known for disinfection. It’s a chore I do reluctantly, and arguably not as often as I should. Despite this, I still see myself as a bit of a germaphobe, especially when I’m out in public. Gas stations and bathrooms are a nightmare, I become hyper-aware of every little thing I touch.

I put my card in the slot – are there germs in there?

I press the button to choose my fuel – who else has touched this button?

Then I grab the nozzle, and I can feel the nastiness on it. When I put my card back into my wallet, I can’t help but think about all the germs that I just put in there with it. It’s an uncomfortable process, and with the pandemic going on, I’ve been extra aware of what I touch.

This is fresh in my mind because the Build with Robots team and I will be traveling to the American Association of Airports Executives Conference in my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. We will be traveling in an airplane to get there, and it makes me wonder, “How are clean are these airports?”

What does it mean to be clean?

In the time that I have been here, I have learned many things that I overlooked for most of my life. Literally overlooked, because much of what I learned is on a microscopic level. So here is what I’ve learned:

  1. Cleaning, in a technical sense, only means that dirt, dust, and other visible particles have been removed, along with some germs. Disinfecting, on the other hand, is the actual killing of germs and bacteria using chemicals.

In other words, disinfecting actually kills germs while cleaning reduces germs. The EPA guidelines require a 6-log kill (99.9999%) in order to qualify a chemical as a disinfectant. A log kill essentially shows the number of live bacteria eliminated through disinfecting. This is important because germs can multiply and be completely restored within hours if a 6-log kill is not used (see image).

  1. Not all things that claim to be disinfectants actually are disinfectants.

Take Lysol as an example. Lysol wipes have a 3-log kill, meaning they reduce bacteria by 99.9% That [99.9%] may seem effective, but bacteria grow back fast enough that a 99.9% spray only keeps a surface safe for a few hours. What’s unnerving is that even if someone wipes down the surface every week, or even every day, bacteria and pathogens grow back fast enough that they effectively render any cleaning, as if it never happened. That’s why we use DF-500 with Breezy One, a disinfectant developed at the Sandia National Labs that has a 6-Log kill.

  1. Air travel is back. We hit the highest levels of air travel since before COVID-19 this past week.

Safer buildings means cleaner buildings

Knowing these things now has caused me to think more deeply about our trip to Las Vegas, which is now in less than 24 hours. What comes to mind is whether my fellow passengers are having the same thoughts?

When was the last time we were at an airport?

Do we recall all the people crowded in lines?

What about the way we have to remove our shoes and put them in bins to be reused for other people’s items?

Do we remember seeing other passengers take their carry-on bags everywhere, from restaurants to the bathroom?

We will soon remember these feelings as the world starts to reopen more and more. Airports, while a great way to travel, can still be filled with bacteria and pathogens which follow people across state and national borders. But because airports offer tremendous benefits, proper measures must be put in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

Routine sanitizing using effective disinfectants should be the requirement because that is what it means for a building to be safe. That could mean safety for our team, or safety for people who are more vulnerable (elderly, auto-immune diseases, etc.).

At Build with Robots, we are creating a safer space for travelers, workers, and their families. While I remain a germophobe, I know when I see Breezy One at the Sunport tomorrow, I’ll have peace of mind.

Learn more about how we are working together to keep spaces like the George Bush Intercontinental, William P. Hobby Airport, and the Albuquerque Sunport safe at BuildWithRobots.com.

About Build With Robots Inc.: Build With Robots is an Albuquerque-based technology company applying the latest robotics and automation within new industries. The company’s proprietary robotic systems are used by organizations in the transportation, construction, and entertainment industries. Its leading autonomous disinfection solution, Breezy One™ was developed at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to help reopen large facilities and keep workers and the public safe.