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posted by martyb on Wednesday January 19, @07:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the it-has-begun dept.

Now You Can Rent a Robot Worker:

Polar Manufacturing has been making ​metal ​hinges, locks, and brackets ​in south Chicago for more than 100 years. Some of the company's metal presses—hulking great machines that loom over a worker—date from the 1950s. Last year, to meet rising demand amid a shortage of workers, Polar hired its first robot employee.

The robot arm performs a simple, repetitive job: lifting a piece of metal into a press, which then bends the metal into a new shape. And like a person, the robot worker gets paid for the hours it works.

​Jose Figueroa​, who manages Polar's production line, says the robot, which is leased from a company called Formic, costs the equivalent of $8 per hour, compared with a minimum wage of $15 per hour for a human employee. Deploying the robot allowed a human worker to do different work, increasing output, Figueroa says.

"Smaller companies sometimes suffer because they can't spend the capital to invest in new technology," Figueroa says. "We're just struggling to get by with the minimum wage increase."


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  • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday January 19, @08:46PM (1 child)

    by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday January 19, @08:46PM (#1213934)

    When you factor in the cost of health insurance and unemployment in addition to the base salary it adds up to a lot more than the usual min. wage a Human gets. For a small company it could benifit them greatly as they can afford more "workers" doing the repetative and sometimes dangerous tasks for substantially less than a Human which would free up funds for hiring Humans for the tasks that need more adaptability and multi-roll abilities. It could potentially make workers with "Jack of all trades" skill sets that much more valuable.

    That said I agree with you that for larger companies, or even smaller ones that run more production line style operations this kind of "rent a bot" option will displace Humans and likely leave them unemployed.

    This is another situation where something new, be it a high versatility bot or a desktop computer with basic office software, may end up having a much larger impact on it's targeted area than originally expected.

    Time will tell, as it has with every other new application of technology.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mhajicek on Thursday January 20, @01:00AM

    by mhajicek (51) on Thursday January 20, @01:00AM (#1214018)

    I have a robot (CNC mill) working for me right now. I pay it (or rather the company bought it from) about $2k/mo. In four years it'll be paid off.

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