Robots Come in Aid as Workers Remain at Home in Coronavirus-hit Europe

Robots Come in Aid as Workers Remain at Home in Coronavirus-hit Europe

Istvan Simon’s manufacturing facility in western Hungary churns out over a million plastic components per day; however, on a busy morning in one of its large manufacturing halls, there is only the sound of machines clicking and whirring.

Robots Come in Aid as Workers Remain at Home in Coronavirus-hit Europe

Similar transformations are ongoing on production lines across the European Union’s eastern wing, as soaring wage bills undermine the region’s reputation as a cheap manufacturing base.

Plant owners from Hungary to the Czech Republic and Poland find themselves with little choice; however, to invest in the automation of their manufacturing processes if they need to stay competitive.

Manufacturing in the region has advanced since the EU expanded eastwards in the mid-2000s, with corporations such as auto manufacturers Audi and Daimler opening local assembly lines and spawning supplier ecosystems, but more recently sturdy economic progress has led to a shortage of staff and rising wages.

Whereas Hungary’s economy grew practically 5% in 2019 and manufacturing investments surged at the fastest pace in three years, the sector shed almost 23,000 jobs, ending a six-year run of annual employment growth.

Czech knowledge showed a yearly lack of almost a thousand manufacturing jobs in Q3 2019, suggesting employment in the industry might have slumped for the first time since 2013 over the entire year.

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