In a global economy where new technologies are increasingly making a difference, it is absolutely necessary for Romania to move on to new economic models, which include robots, digitalization and automation. Without significant investments in technology, the country will miss the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) and the economy will lose significantly in terms of competitiveness, according to a survey among investors, conducted by Frames and commissioned by the Industrial Academy.
Business leaders and managers questioned by consulting company Frames within the Barometer titled “Factory 4.0. How new technologies influence the Romanian economy”, conducted in early September, seem to be aware of the increasing impact that innovation and technology have on the economy. 92 percent of them believe that new technologies (robots, IoT, 5G, RPA, etc.) will significantly influence the Romanian economy.
Robotization was mentioned by 80 percent of respondents, followed by RPA (use of software and artificial intelligence for process automation), Internet of Things – IoT (52 percent) and 5G technology (36 percent).
“The implementation of robotization, process automation, optimization of production flows with the help of dedicated software and AI are elements that will increasingly make a difference in terms of competitiveness. A good example is the auto industry, where big players who are still focused on internal combustion engines and classic production processes are beginning to lose relevance in the face of companies that successfully launch electric cars built almost entirely by robots. The Romanian economy and investors must focus on new technologies in order not to miss the global race for competitiveness,” said Marius Haratau, the manager of the Industrial Academy.
Asked about the sectors where Industry 4.0 will have the biggest impact, most respondents said agriculture and IT, followed by manufacturing, services and trade.
“Beyond the boom in the IT sector, agriculture is considered to have the greatest potential for economic development in Romania. Adopting innovation in this sector is likely to optimize production flows and remove agriculture from the weather-sensitive area. From seeds adapted to climate change to smart irrigation plants, tractors and autonomous seeders and crops monitored by drones, many of the technologies have already begun to be implemented,” says Frames manager Adrian Negrescu.
The implementation of new technologies is also a solution to meet the country’s labor force needs, with over 90 percent of respondents saying that, in the current crisis conditions on the labor market, automation and robotization are optimal solutions.
Digital skills still underdeveloped
62.5 percent of respondents said that Romanian employees do not currently have the necessary digital skills for Industry 4.0 production processes, which are based on the operation of software platforms, decisions based on data analysis, interaction with virtual systems, etc.
“Without employees trained to provide the necessary support for the implementation of new technologies, companies will find it difficult to move to the next level. In an economy where well-qualified workforce is increasingly scarce, employee loyalty through continuous training programs must be at the forefront,” the barometer finds.
Romanians aren’t afraid of robots
Interestingly, the survey also found that 63.6 percent of respondents said they were not afraid of losing their jobs even though the implementation of Industry 4.0 solutions will mean that many businesses will replace its regular workforce with an automated one, with robots and software.
“The answers show a significant progress regarding the Romanians’ perception of robotization. While in the past, the fear of technology was prevalent, the access to information and the new economic reality have made many see a change, and understand that the disappearance of jobs as a result of the implementation of technology leads to the creation of other jobs, which can pay even better,” said Marius Haratau, manager of the Industrial Academy.
In contrast, a PwC survey last week showed that over half of employees worldwide felt threatened by automation.
Romania still has a chance to succeed
The new industrial revolution finds the Romanian economy at a crossroads. Even though statistics show a growth trend, the macroeconomic imbalances are growing.
“We import too much, we produce too little, we sell too many resources with a low level of processing, and deficits accumulate. From agriculture to the auto industry, from steel to construction, the Romanian economy is late, with small exceptions, to adopt the latest generation solutions. It is a capital issue, first of all, as the financing of Romanian businesses is burdened by low ratings, generated mostly by the lack of predictability. With an optimized and well-anchored fiscal framework, with an administrative apparatus to support future strategic investments, and with an effective promotion policy, Romania has significant chances to quickly advance. We’re starting from scratch in many areas, so implementation costs are lower. Romania has an unexpected chance to move to an innovative economy, adapted to new realities. One thing is for sure. Without adopting new technologies, Romania risks falling behind other countries in the region,” said Adrian Negrescu, Frames manager.