What are automated industries? (Plus examples and salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An automated industry is one that employs robots to do work that either humans cannot do or are too inefficient to do. With the rise of technology, these types of industries are expanding. For example, the medical sector uses robots to perform surgical procedures, while automotive industries use them to build car parts. In this article, we look at what automated industries are with some examples of how robotics and automation engineers can transform how they work, in addition to how much they can expect to earn in these roles.

What are automated industries?

Automated industries are any business sectors that utilise robotic assistance, computerised systems or other pieces of artificial intelligence (AI) within organisations. Often, they're used to replace a human. For example, on a production line, robots can package far more items at a time than a human could. In other cases, they may have their own particular function, such as welding components in a factory. Some pieces of AI require human intervention to develop them, program them, control them and maintain them so they can continue to perform in the long term.

Examples of automated industries

The ways in which businesses use technology is shifting. For businesses to keep up with this demand, more jobs are opening up for automation and robotics professionals. Here are some examples:

The automotive industry

Robots and other AI procedures have dramatically transformed how to build a vehicle. For example, using a robot to perform tasks such as arc welding and spot resistance welding is much more time and quality efficient than sending a human to do them. Using a robot also means that the risk associated with welding is subsequently reduced, as damaged parts can be easily removed and replaced. There's a reduced risk when robots handle vehicles due to sharp edges, trip hazards and molten metals involved.

Robots also generally produce a more consistent rate of quality than humans, which is evident in tasks such as painting each vehicle. Rather than suffering from stiff limbs and running out of energy, robots can stay focused for hours on end, ensuring that paint is evenly sprayed right around the vehicle for a professional finish. Due to their accuracy, companies use robots to paint the interior parts of a vehicle, such as the dashboard. Electronic robots can be specifically programmed, ensuring that no paint stains the seats of other devices.

Quality control organisations

To ensure no bias, companies hire independent quality control firms to test their products before they're released to the market. Alternatively, they may use an in-house robot for this job. This is because robots are programmable, meaning they can analyse a product to test whether it complies with strict parameter limits. They can do this repeatedly, identifying bad batches that are unsuitable for sale. Robots can perform the same function over and over with a high degree of accuracy, reducing opportunities for human error.

A real-life example of automation in this field involves Formula 1 cars, as these vehicles are specifically made to a set of specific requirements. For example, each car is typically fitted with a set of adjustable rear wings that are only allowed to rotate 50mm around the main plane. A robot can examine this, as they possess no bias towards teams and are therefore less likely to pass a car that doesn't fit this specification. In the past, design controversies have led to the declaration of illegal cars when found to be a different size.

The pharmaceuticals industry

The pharmaceuticals industry sometimes makes use of the benefits offered by robots when they're employed on the production line. Often, they're used as an alternative to humans when packaging up new medicines. This is because they're able to follow cleanroom standards and specifications in a way that humans cannot, which is essential to avoid any instances of contamination. When medicines become contaminated with bacteria, dirt or even pieces of hair, they're immediately disposed of as they become unsuitable for sale. The chance of this happening with robots is much smaller as they stay in one area.

Related: How to become a pharmaceutical scientist (tips and duties)

The healthcare sector

Robots can improve the efficiency of medicinal practice processes. For example, using robots with medicine-identifying intelligence systems means that waiting lists for patients suffering from common illnesses such as tonsillitis are dramatically reduced. The AI technology can identify the medicine that most closely suits the patient's requirements and then distribute it in a much faster time than usual. This technology is accessible within hospitals as doctors can prescribe a certain treatment and send the robot to locate it, rather than a nurse who could be better utilised elsewhere.

Robots also work within certain surgical settings. Regardless of the procedure being conducted, such as a hip replacement or knee surgery, a robot is useful in assisting the surgeon. This is because their robotic arms, when combined with 3D imaging and information supplied by data analytics, offer an improved sense of spatial awareness. Rather than the surgeon being the one to make an incision, a robot can do it more accurately. The surgeon can then tell the robot how long, wide and deep they require a cut to be before they can insert the socket into the pelvis, for example.

Law enforcement sectors

Technology has long assisted law enforcement, but recently there's been an increased use of automation in neighbourhood watch tasks. This is because you can easily fit robots with noise activated cameras. If there are noise violations, the camera can automatically switch on to record what's going on in the area, interpreting whether or not the situation requires human intervention from police officers. For example, if there's a robbery going on that only a dog has noticed, the noise from its barking may activate the robot's camera to start recording what's happening. This can be later used in court.

Robots are now being introduced to more serious situations. For example, bomb squads use robots to defuse hazardous situations. When there's been a bomb report, the squad can send a remote-controlled robot to examine the situation. Fitted with a 3D camera, the robot can safely zoom in on the bomb and deliver a live image so that the squad can devise a strategy on how to defuse it from a distance. This saves lives as it means that a human isn't sent unknowingly into a dangerous situation.

Related: Comprehensive guide to starting a criminal justice career

The financial sector

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is being increasingly used within the financial sector. This is a type of software-based robot that can automate rule-based financial processes, freeing up human accountants to attend to less monotonous tasks a robot cannot perform.

In addition to increasing productivity levels across an organisation, RPA is also helping to stop fraud. This is because fraud breaks the patterns that RPA technology specialises in detecting. When there's a break, the robot examines the matter further, using current and former transactions to see if there are more irregular patterns. It can then report instances of fraud if it detects further anomalies.

Related: How to be an RPA developer in 5 steps (plus FAQs)

Does industrial automation benefit human employees?

Often, there are negative connotations surrounding the use of a robot rather than a human. Rather than reducing opportunities for human employees, robots can widen them. A robot cannot create itself, neither can one maintain itself, meaning that robotic engineers are instead required. If there's an increase in the number of robots used across a wide range of industries, there's more subsequent scope for robotic engineers to specialise in creating models for them, furthering employment opportunities. In the future, there may be more companies set up to produce specialised medical robots, financial robots or manufacturing robots.

How much does a robotics engineer earn?

If you're interested in working in the automation and robotics fields, you may want to know more about the salary details of such roles. The national average salary for a robotics engineer is £38,671 per year. This can vary depending on your experience, specialised industry and especially your location, as such professionals may work closely with a specific localised sector.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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