In popular culture and in manufacturing the quiet efficiency of robots is a mainstay in the collective vision of the future. Working tirelessly in factories and potentially
even helping out around the house someday, our robotic counterparts represent the ultimate in productivity.
Or at least that was the true before the recession hit. Now it seems that even robots aren’t immune to layoffs. The New York Times reported early this month that Japanese shipments of industrial robots fell 33 percent in the last quarter of 2008, and 59 percent in the first quarter of 2009. With Japan being the industrial and consumer entertainment robot epicenter that it is, that says a lot.
As the concept of “efficiency” has been redefined as “do more with less” in the past year, productivity became inextricably linked with cost savings and those poor robots just cost too much at the outset. Those motionless robots will no doubt have an impact on innovation both within the realm of robotics and in manufacturing, but there seems to be no end to the progress made by humans in any economic climate. Finding themselves out of work, people are taking themselves back to school to adapt and acquire new skills, which would probably make those laid-off robots jealous if they could process that concept.
Among those still working in their field, there is also much adaptive growth occurring at the moment. New tasks and roles have been taken on by team members at companies of all sizes in the AV systems integration industry, propelling businesses through a challenging time. Subsequently, the addition of new capabilities and service offerings is triggering growth in new segments.
The rewards of adaptation and growth can be seen throughout this industry, which advocated education and training throughout this challenging year. Consultants and integrators have added new offices, introduced technologies of their own invention, and streamlined their offerings to meet changing needs.
Challenges still persist in many regions and among certain business segments in the industry, but once again the tenets of a technology trade offer guidance—new expertise keeps the business moving along. The proof lies in the fact that many SCN readers are reporting that business is picking back up. In light of these challenges, this will certainly be an interesting year for our annual “Top 50 Systems Integrators” listing, which will be published in December. Make sure you get a piece of your well-deserved recognition and fill out the Top 50 survey on the SCN website.