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The ‘cobots’ are coming. Is your IT team ready?

Cindy Waxer | May 17, 2017
These collaborative robots work alongside human employees, sending productivity sky-high. But IT teams must be prepared to take on complex programming, deal with connectivity issues and get used to sharing work space with 6-foot-tall machines.

To accommodate rising demands on IT, Hager says Praxis nearly doubled its IT team — a move that included hiring a senior network engineer and a helpdesk person. It's a decision, he says, that allowed him to spend more time on the factory floor overseeing cobot operations.

In fact, the cobot revolution is even altering IT's relationship with other departments. "In traditional automation environments, educated engineers only ask IT for help when things get tricky," says Hager. "But with Baxter, training employees to work with cobots required more IT support."

As global competition mounts, robots will continue to multiple across factory floors. In fact, the European Union is currently considering a proposal that would grant robots legal status as "electronic persons." But before IT leaders can truly embrace cobots as co-workers, they'll need to get a firm grip on security standards, data challenges and redefined roles.

 

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