Industry 4.0 creates opportunities to get back to work

Nieuws | 2 juni 2021

At the end of May, approximately one hundred second-year students from NHL Stenden attended the ICD Safari, which revolved around robotics.

When we talk about the combination of robotisation and human labour, the general idea is that robots take over human activities. In essence, this is correct. In fact, this perception was formed years ago, but is it still correct or are new opportunities and choices being created regarding what work should and should not be done by humans?

Dangerous, Dirty en Dull

Robotica - Dangerous
Robotica - Dirty
Dull Icd

If certain tasks are dangerous, dirty, or dull, then the use of robots is suddenly considered acceptable. This was the case, for example, with the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011. This prompted the need to develop robots that can help in nuclear disasters to prevent people being sent into a radioactive field, as happened in Japan. The people who did so were already contaminated after three minutes and had to return immediately.

Robots can also be used to extinguish burning houses and commercial premises or to dismantle bombs. In those life-threatening jobs, robots can be of great assistance. Robots can also help people who, for example, suffer from RSI and they can do boring, repetitive work for us. In addition, robotics also helps with productivity. A four-day week, for instance, was not widely accepted until a few years ago. Since robots have taken over part of the tasks and work through to night, this has now become an option in many work situations.

Joost Krebbekx, Programme manager at ICD explains that both technology and ethics are closely related to robotics. ‘Whether you study mechanical engineering, electronics or computer science and IT, every technology has its downside.’

When considering the ethics of replacing humans with robots, one can weigh it up using the following criteria: Better, Faster and Cheaper, or BFC.

Robotica - Better
Robotica - Faster
Robotica - Cheaper

Representatives Eric Sloot and Thomas Pijper of Philips, Antons Prokopenko of BD and Cornelis Kooistra of Quadient discussed this on the basis of practical experiences in their presentations about Robotics & Vision, 3D Robot hands, Robotics & End products, Development of autonomous systems and Robotics & Ethics. The students had the opportunity to ask questions and were given a clear picture of the status of current technology and the considerations involved in deploying a robot or not. They also gained insight into whether this would be a suitable graduation assignment or internship for them.

Sietse Vlietstra of NHL Stenden concluded the event after Joost’s final words: “It is close by, only one kilometre away”. Sietse added to that: “It is an added value for the students that we have this advanced and promising technology in the Northern Netherlands. “We heard interesting things about technological developments for the future of the industry and therefore for the future of our students. By gathering all this information, students have been able to increase their knowledge of the high-tech industry and hopefully see some opportunities to work for an interesting company in the north, that matches their studies.”

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