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Even In The Robot Age, Manufacturers Need The Human Touch

Robots have revolutionized auto manufacturing, making plants safer and products more reliable — and reducing the number of people involved in the process. But walk inside a modern auto plant, and you’ll quickly realize that robots have hardly replaced the human touch — at least, not in some areas.

Volvo’s car plant in Ridgeville, S.C., which opened last year, provides an object lesson. The facility produces the S60, a luxury sedan, for the U.S. market as well as for export.

The beginning of the production line is highly automated; in the first of three large buildings, robots outnumber human workers 300 to 200. But the end of the process is dominated by people.

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