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Robot Apocalypse Hard to Find in America's Small, Mid-Sized Factories


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Metal cutting machines inside Gent Machine Co.'s 55-employee factory in Cleveland, OH.

Even as some analysts warn that robots are about to displace millions of blue-collar jobs in the U.S. industrial heartland, the reality at smaller operations is far different.

Credit: Timothy Aeppel/Reuters

Although analysts have warned that millions of blue-collar jobs in the U.S. industrial heartland will soon be displaced by robots, that is not yet the case at small and medium-sized factories.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers studied 34 companies with 500 or fewer employees in Ohio, Massachusetts, and Arizona, and found just one had acquired a significant number of robots in the past five years.

MIT's Anna Waldman-Brown said, "The bulk of the machines we saw were from before the 1990s," and many older machines were upgraded with new computer controllers.

Other companies have purchased advanced equipment like computer-guided cutting machines and inspection systems, but not robots, the researchers found, because smaller companies lack the money for robots or the skilled workers necessary to operate them.

From Reuters
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