Human Augmentation vs. Automation – Which is More Efficient in Manufacturing?

November 06, 2022

Human Augmentation vs. Automation – Which is More Efficient in Manufacturing?

Manufacturing is no longer just about the machines. As technology improves, we are seeing an increasing number of options for replacing, enhancing and augmenting human skills that make use of advanced technologies to solve problems in ways that were previously impossible. This evolution has opened up a new frontier in manufacturing, one that will significantly impact the future of work. In this blog post, we will be comparing human augmentation and automation in manufacturing.

Human Augmentation

We demand a higher level of efficiency and productivity every day. To meet these demands, human augmentation has emerged. Human augmentation is the use of technology to augment human capabilities such as speed, accuracy and knowledge within the manufacturing process. This technology offers an immersive and collaborative environment using augmented reality, exoskeletons, and wearables.


Exoskeletons are wearable robotic devices that can be worn by assembly workers to augment their physical abilities. They help reduce the strain and fatigue of repetitive tasks, which significantly increases productivity. According to a study conducted by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, up to 50% of manufacturers reported a substantial increase in productivity, with exoskeletons contributing to a significant portion of that percentage.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality increases productivity and reduces errors by providing workers with real-time information such as assembly instructions and quality control procedures, overlayed over the real world. Workers can use AR devices to "see" the correct way to complete a task along with additional information to aid in performing the task accurately. Thus, improving speed, quality, and accuracy in assembling parts.


Automation refers to the replacement of human labor by machines. Robotics and AI are the two main technologies used to automate industrial manufacturing processes. The manufacturing sector uses robotics for repetitive tasks, such as welding, painting, and assembly. The deployment of robots allows manufacturers to achieve high-volume production faster and more accurately than before.

According to a study conducted by the International Federation of Robotics, in the automotive sector, robots contribute to a 16% productivity increase.

Which is More Efficient?

The debate over which is more effective — human augmentation or automation purely comes down to what you need to accomplish. Both human augmentation and automation have their pros and cons, and the implementation that works best in one company may not work in another.

As seen above, notable gains in productivity can come from both human augmentation and automation. Humans can collaborate with machines in manufacturing processes to achieve optimal performance, where machines do the heavy lifting, and humans are more skilled at problem-solving and troubleshooting.

In summary, the best approach to manufacturing is likely not an either-or scenario. Instead, companies should implement a powerful mix of technology-enabled automation and human augmentation.


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