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Aerospace supplier Arconic is showing its employees that there are currently no grounds for these concerns. Robots are only supposed to assist human workers – not replace them, points out Jens Harde , General Manager at the Hildesheim site. At the metal processing company’s corporate headquarters, Executive Vice President Tim D. Myers also notes that robots have already been helping to make workplaces safer since 1961 by reducing heavy labor by humans in hazardous areas. In fact, cobots in particular – robots that work in direct contact with people – must strictly adhere to “safety by design” principles. Anyone finding this unsafe would have to immediately ban all traffic light crossings.

Arconic is now focusing on transparency, and intends to offer staff special hands-on training days all about Industry 4.0’s rapid developments, but most importantly, bringing robots up close and personal. Special demonstrations and an obstacle course will make it clear that robots and humans achieve the best results together . Arconic is also concerned with retaining skilled workers. “In five years we will have enormous problems finding qualified personnel. So we want to familiarize colleagues with digital assistants early on”, says Harde .