Original Research - Special Collection: Technology in the African workplace

The future African workplace: The use of collaborative robots in manufacturing

Andre P. Calitz, Paul Poisat, Margaret Cullen
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 15 | a901 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v15i0.901 | © 2017 Andre P. Calitz, Paul Poisat, Margaret Cullen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2016 | Published: 25 July 2017

About the author(s)

Andre P. Calitz, Department of Computing Sciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
Paul Poisat, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Business School, South Africa
Margaret Cullen, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Business School, Port Elizabeth, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Industry 4.0 promotes technological innovations and human–robot collaboration (HRC). Human–robot interaction (HRI) and HRC on the manufacturing assembly line have been implemented in numerous advanced production environments worldwide. Collaborative robots (Cobots) are increasingly being used as collaborators with humans in factory production and assembly environments.

Research purpose: The purpose of the research is to investigate the current use and future implementation of Cobots worldwide and its specific impact on the African workforce.

Motivation for the study: Exploring the gap that exists between the international implementation of Cobots and the potential implementation and impact on the African manufacturing and assembly environment and specifically on the African workforce.

Research design, approach and method: The study features a qualitative research design. An open-ended question survey was conducted amongst leading manufacturing companies in South Africa in order to determine the status and future implementation of Cobot practices. Thematic analysis and content analysis were conducted using AtlasTi.

Main findings: The findings indicate that the African businesses were aware of the international business trends, regarding Cobot implementation, and the possible impact of Cobots on the African work force. Factors specifically highlighted in this study are fear of retrenchment, human–Cobot trust and the African culture.

Practical implications and value-add: This study provides valuable background on the international status of Cobot implementation and the possible impact on the African workforce. The study highlights the importance of building employee trust, providing the relevant training and addressing the fear of retrenchment amongst employees.


Keywords

cobotics; human-robot collaboration

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Crossref Citations

1. Industry 4.0 in Management Studies: A Systematic Literature Review
Michela Piccarozzi, Barbara Aquilani, Corrado Gatti
Sustainability  vol: 10  issue: 10  first page: 3821  year: 2018  
doi: 10.3390/su10103821