Pandemic, labor and productivity needs are drivers for automation

December 08, 2020 - 06:15am
Pandemic, labor and productivity needs are drivers for automation

Factors driving the need for increased automationMore than a third of manufacturers say the Covid-19 pandemic is a catalyst for increasing automation, and additional drivers for adding and expanding automation include the need for increased productivity and a shortage of skilled workers, according to a new survey from MC Machinery of Elk Grove Village, Illinois. 

More than 160 manufacturers participated in the online survey between Oct. 7 and Oct. 16.  The respondents included job shops and manufacturers of automotive, food, mold and die, aerospace, medical, and energy products. Nearly 85 percent work for, or own, manufacturing companies with less than 200 employees. 

About 72 percent of survey respondents said they are using automation, with 45 percent are using it minimally and 27 percent extensively.  

The automation or digital technologies most used in the production process are computer-controlled devices (85 percent), robotics (45 percent), IoT (10 percent), AI (3 percent) and AR/VR (2 percent.)  

Almost 30 percent of respondents said they are planning to add or expand automation capabilities to the production process in the next few months. 

The main reasons for adding or expanding automation were cited as the need for increased productivity (74 percent), the lack of skilled workers (67 percent), business continuity (58 percent), safety (33 percent), and social distancing requirements (12 percent). 

The October survey was a follow-up to a similar survey conducted by MC Machinery in May 2020. In that survey, 62 percent of manufacturers believed the pandemic was revealing opportunities for manufacturing innovation. The biggest opportunities cited included collaborative manufacturing (29 percent) and automation (21 percent). 

“This survey shows how important automation is to the future of manufacturing,” said Bill Isaac, MC Machinery vice president of sales and marketing. “While automation was increasing before the pandemic, the past few months have illustrated the importance of automation to long-term success.”  

For more information on MC Machinery, visit

Related Glossary Terms

  • robotics


    Discipline involving self-actuating and self-operating devices. Robots frequently imitate human capabilities, including the ability to manipulate physical objects while evaluating and reacting appropriately to various stimuli. See industrial robot; robot.


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