The Definitive Guide to Hiring a Robot Worker in the 2022 Labor Shortage
This is the definitive guide to hiring a robot worker. So if you’re looking to:
- Analyze the benefits of robot workers
- Explore the different kinds of robot workers
- Choose the right robot worker for your business
- Learn what to consider when hiring a robot worker
Then you’ll love this new guide.
Chapter 1: The Upcoming Age of Robot Workers
Humans have been dreaming of robot workers ever since 1921 when the word “robot” was first created. Flash forward to today, and we are seeing the beginning of a mass adoption of robots across many industries. Chances are, your car has been manufactured by a robot. If you go to a restaurant, you may have a robotic server bring your food to you. Some people may even have a robot in their home that whirs around on the floor sucking up dirt.
It seems as though we are approaching the point of true mass adoption of robotics in certain industries. Over the last couple of years, two events have lined up perfectly to open the gates for mass automation: The Labor Shortage and the Advancement of Robotic Technology.
Data and observation clearly show us that America is experiencing a worker shortage. The great resignation of 2020-2022 has left many industries strapped for good labor. In fact, 94% of American Retailers are experiencing issues with managing job vacancies. Because of this, more companies are investing in robotic labor and artificial intelligence as a better means to get the job done.
Chapter 2: The Immense Benefits of Hiring a Robot Worker
Besides the shortage of workers, there are numerous reasons that employers are turning to robots to keep their operations running smoothly. While robots aren’t suited for all lines of work, they can be better at certain types of work than humans are.
Robots excel in repetitive tasks. In fact, according to this Mckinsey Digital, data collection, data processing and repetitive, predictable physical labor are all well suited to automation via robotics, as these tasks do not require much thought.In essence, this is exactly what robots were invented for: carrying out repetitive tasks that don’t require much thought.
Most arm robots (including ours) can repeat a task with a margin of error of +/- 0.1 mm. If mapped correctly, most mobile robots, (including our server robots), can depart and return to a destination point within a few inches of accuracy. Robots tend to be better at repetitive tasks because it’s in their nature. It’s how computers are designed to compute.
We can examine this further with a food production related use case. Recently, we developed a chocolate strawberry dipping robot. We designed the robot to pick up the strawberry, analyze the height of the strawberry on the stick, analyze the level of the melted chocolate, and dip the correct height every time. Because the robot can be programmed to analyze such, the robot is able to produce the perfect chocolate dipped strawberry every time.
Faster Speeds/Continuous Production
Another benefit to having robot workers is the speed and continuity of production. Humans, subject to distraction and other such foibles, are unable to consistently match this.
We can explore this benefit further by re-examining the strawberry dipping robot use case. The current iteration of this prototype is able to dip one strawberry in chocolate and place it on a drying rack about every 12-13 seconds, about the same time, if not slower, than a human.In future iterations, however, the robot’s gripper will be modified so that it will be able to pick up a half a dozen or a dozen strawberries at a time and dip them into the chocolate in the same 12-13 seconds. Now, the robot has become much more efficient than a human, simply by changing the grip that it uses. Not only that, but we can program this strawberry dipping robot to repeat its task 24/7 if we wanted to.
Human Resources Departments Don’t Need to Manage Robots
Using robotic labor is much more price effective than employing human labor. In addition to the cost of paying a salary, hiring an employee comes with considerable payroll tax, including:
- Employer share of FICA (7.65% on compensation up to the annual wage base, plus 1.45% on compensation over the annual wage base).
- Federal unemployment tax (FUTA) of $42 per employee. The FUTA tax rate is 6%, but most employers can take a FUTA credit of 5.4%, resulting in a mere 0.6%.
- State unemployment tax, which varies with your state and your claims experience (the more claims made by former employees for unemployment benefits, the higher your state unemployment tax rate will be).
In addition to payroll taxes, you may also need to address insurance for your employees. This includes:
- Workers compensation
- Other insurance needed for the work performed
- Health insurance
Additionally, employers also choose to offer benefits, such as:
- Retirement savings plan
- Family and medical leave
Finally, there are other costs to hiring a human worker, including:
- The cost of recruitment, including background checks and drug testing where applicable
- The cost of initial and ongoing training
- Miscellaneous items, such as uniforms and protective gear where needed
The simple reality is that none of these considerations apply to robot workers. Robots don’t need to be on payroll or insurance, they don’t take vacations, and they certainly never call out. These benefits alone make hiring a robotic worker an easy decision for most employers.
In our personal experience, every business that we have worked with to install an automated solution has seen a marketing boost. Whether it be restaurants, retirement homes, casinos, or hotels, a majority of the locations that we’ve installed at have received news coverage. Because robotics is such an exciting and interesting field, most media outlets are eager to share local stories about businesses adopting automation. Once it’s on the news, or on social media, our clients have reported flocks of people coming in from all over just to see the robot. While this is usually not a deciding factor for a business who is investing in a robot worker, it’s definitely an added bonus, especially if the business is open to the public and the public is able to interact with the robot.
Chapter 3: A Comprehensive List of the Most Popular Robotic Workers
Although robot workers have a lot of advantages over human workers in key areas, they can’t do everything. As discussed earlier, robots are best at performing predictable, repetitive work. This means that the robots that are being adopted into the workforce are solving just a few key problems.
Let’s talk about some of the most popular problems that robots are solving, and which robots are doing the solving.
One robot that’s exploded in popularity is the serving robot. Depending on where you live, you might’ve already interacted with one before.
Serving is an easy job for a robot to perform, as for the most part, it’s repetitive. You’re simply taking food from the kitchen and bringing it to the table.
Most restaurants choose to integrate robots in two ways: hybrid automation or full automation.
Hybrid automation for server robots usually follows this workflow. The kitchen manager loads the robot up with food and sends it out to a table. From there, the robot arrives at a table and a floor manager/server unloads the food onto the table. Then, the robot is sent back to the kitchen, ready for the next delivery.
The benefit of this setup is that the restaurant is able to provide a heightened level of customer service, while also increasing efficiency. The floor manager/server is able to stay on the dining floor at all times to assist guests and unload food, rather than having to run back and forth between the dining room. With this setup, restaurants are usually able to operate with less servers per shift.
“A team of two robots from Richtech Robotics fill in for roughly three human workers” - Dining General Manager Shawn Fontaine, Wesley Enhanced Living
Full automation is when the restaurant is using the same robot, without any serving staff. In this scenario, the kitchen would load up the robot with food and send it out to the table. Once the robot arrives at the table, the guests unload the food themselves, and the robot automatically returns to the kitchen for the next delivery.
The benefit of this setup is not having to operate with a serving staff at all. In our experience, if you do choose to run this setup, it’s recommended to pick a robot that can instruct the guests on how to unload the food properly. This is usually done through visual instructions on a screen or vocal instructions that the robot says.
If servers are hard to find, then you can definitely be assured that cleaning staff is also hard to find. I’m sure we’re all familiar with Roomba, but there are a lot more popular cleaning robots out now that perform all kinds of cleaning tasks.
Residential Floor Cleaners
The success of the Roomba has sparked competitors to come out with similar products that are used for at-home floor cleaning. At first, all of these robots were simply vacuums that could sweep and vacuum dust off of the floor. Over time, these robots evolved to have set bases where they would empty their dust autonomously. Some of the latest at-home cleaning robots even have mopping technology built in, making them an all in one solution.
Industrial Floor Cleaners
A far less saturated market is industrial floor cleaners. These automated industrial floor cleaners are far more advanced than their residential counterparts, for a number of reasons. Industrial automated floor cleaners must clean a much larger area, have advanced obstacle detection technology, and have a durable exterior.
The last type of cleaning robots are disinfection robots. These robots usually utilize UV-C light technology to disinfect surfaces of all kinds. They’re similar to machines that are used in hospitals like these:
The difference between these machines and the modern disinfection robots of today is the element of autonomous movement. This autonomy is especially important in UV-C disinfection robots, as UV-C light can be harmful to humans. By making these machines robotic, they no longer require a human operator, and can be programmed to automatically move around and disinfect in the middle of the night, when there’s less people around.
Another type of robot that is becoming increasingly popular in today’s workforce are production robots. These robots can generally be split into categories: Specialized production robots and non-specialized production robots.
Specialized Production Robots
Specialized production robots are robots that have been designed and built to produce one thing very efficiently. Some examples of this would be Piestro, the robot that is designed to produce one thing and one thing only: pizza. Another example of a specialized production robot is Chippy, the chip making robot that Chipotle is testing out.
These robots can work well to solve very specific business problems. You will start to see more of these robots taking over certain parts of production.
Non-Specialized Production Robots
Non-specialized production robots are robots that are designed to carry out a number of different tasks across a production process. These robots haven't been designed and built to perform a specific task. Rather, the customization comes from the programming that it can be given to carry out tasks.
The majority of the robots that fall into this category are robotic arms. Robot arms are great because they can pretty accurately mirror a human’s movement, depending on the task. The use of robotic arms in manufacturing is pretty well known, but nowadays, arms are starting to be utilized in other industries.
The strawberry dipping robot that I mentioned earlier falls under this category. It wasn’t specifically built to dip strawberries, but it was programmed to carry out that task. This means that the same arm can be repurposed to complete different tasks in the future.
We’ve also set up the exact same arm to make boba drinks, coffee drinks, and mixed drinks, as well as pour draft beer and wine. Pictured below is our ADAM robot, which utilizes two robot arms to act as a bartender.
Chapter 4: An Easy Way to Know When is the Right Time to Invest
Investing in a robot can seem intimidating and unfamiliar. Most business owners have probably never considered employing a robot as a part of their team. However, an automated workforce is no longer a sci-fi look into the future, it’s happening now. So how does a business know when to invest in automation?
This depends on your industry. If you’re in the business of applying expertise, managing people, or performing unpredictable physical work (example: cutting down trees in a forest), now is not the best time. Technology might not ever reach the level needed to perform those jobs, and it certainly hasn’t at the current moment.
However, if you are looking to hire labor that is repetitive and predictable, the future is now. Robots are currently at a point where they can and are performing these tasks. So if you are struggling to hire for this kind of labor, it’s definitely well worth investing in a robot.
Chapter 5: The Easiest Way to Choose the Most Effective Robot for Your Business
Whether you’re looking to hire a server robot, a cleaning robot, or a production robot, you have a lot of options. There are already a good amount of robotic companies that are producing automated machines to complete these tasks, and that list of companies is only going to get bigger. So how should a business that's considering hiring a robotic worker decide which candidate is best?
One of the biggest considerations to weigh is what kind of environment the robot will be working in. In the hospitality industry alone, there are endless types of environments. Theaters, senior living homes, casinos, restaurants, cruise ships, and pools are just a few of the many businesses that are looking to integrate robotics. Each type of location comes with its own specifications and limitations to consider. After all, an ideal robot integration is one where the robot works with your existing space, rather than having to modify your environment to work with a robot.
The easiest way to find the best robot for your use case is to follow this process:
- Determine which task you want to be carried out.
- Do you want your robot to be serving food? Bussing tables? Cleaning hardwood floors? Cooking food? Making drinks?
- Research which robots are best suited to fill your business's needs. The best way to do this is to go to Google and conduct a search. Type in [the task you want the robot to perform] + robot.
- Once you find some robots that do the task you need performed, simply reach out to the company for an evaluation of your environment. If they’re a good robot company that really cares about their robot serving your purposes, they will do this for you.
- We always provide this evaluation for free. Click here to schedule a pre-install assessment.
Following these steps will narrow down which robots will be able to work best for you.
Chapter 6: A Comprehensive list of everything to Consider when Hiring a Robot Worker
Once you’ve made the decision to hire a robot, there are a few things to consider when going through the purchasing process.
Specifications that you will want to pay attention to will vary across different robot types. Here are a few that you might want to consider:
- Working time & charging time
- Charging method
- Carrying capacity
- Movement speed
- Customization options
- NSF Approved
Support & Service
Even with the advancement of technology that we’ve seen, perfection doesn’t exist. When considering a robot, business owners should evaluate the level of customer support that they will be receiving if they invest in a robot. If a mechanical part fails, will they be covered? This information is crucial to obtain before hiring a robot worker.
Different robotics companies sell their robots in different ways. Some exclusively sell at full price, some exclusively lease them out. Other companies, like us, let clients decide if they want to buy, lease, or lease-to-own their robot. This allows for businesses in any financial situation to take advantage of the power of automation.
Chapter 7: How to Measure the Performance of Your Robot
For human workers, performance is usually measured by observation, or maybe even a goal-based system. Robots can have their performance measured in the same way, but can also go a step further. Depending on which robotics company you work with, a cloud platform can be provided that gives in-depth analytics on exactly how efficient your robot is and what kind of workload it performed.
We offer a cloud platform for our clients for this reason. This cloud platform can actually be further powered when paired with a production robot, because it can keep track of inventory.
Let’s look at a particular use case where this data would prove to be extremely valuable, robotic bartending. ADAM pours with precision every time, so you won’t have any heavy-handed pours. As ADAM is bartending, he is tracking what he pours through the cloud system. As ADAM is bartending, business owners can have a live view of how much inventory you’ve used right on your cloud system. It will even alert you when inventory is running low.
Well that’s it! Everything you need to know about hiring your first robotic worker. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more content on robotics, artificial intelligence, and business optimization.
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This has been our goal since the start of our company. Automation is the future, and we're utilizing it to create a better world for generations to come.