Will AI restrain disposable glove market?

Andy Pye looks at recent reports of AI taking over more roles traditionally performed by humans and the effects of this on disposable glove consumption.

As intelligent machines get more sophisticated, there are concerns that roles held by humans will be taken over by technology. In the week when UK Government officials are investigating the impact that the rapid developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) could have on jobs in the UK, fears are mounting that robots could replace as many as one third of jobs in the country, according to a Sky News report.

Economist Daniel Susskind and legal expert Richard Susskind are calling for the creation of a national task force to investigate the moral constraints needed, as the roles of doctors and lawyers fall increasingly to intelligent machines.

So it is perhaps no surprise that a recently published report looking at the market for cleanroom disposable gloves predicts that indirect substitution of humans wearing gloves by industrial robots is likely to be a major restraint of the market in future. The cleanroom disposable gloves market alone was valued at $830.0 million in 2013.

In manufacturing processes and scientific research, the presence of pollutants such as dust particles, aerosol particles, chemical vapours, and airborne microbes can seriously hamper the entire processes even in small concentrations. Humans are a major cause (although by no means the only one) of contamination in cleanroom environments – hair, skin flakes, oil, cosmetics and perfume, spittle, clothing debris (lint, fibres) all contribute to the problem.

A human hair is about 75-100 microns in diameter. A particle 200 times smaller can cause major disaster in a cleanroom. Contamination can lead to expensive downtime and increased production costs. Remember the billion dollar NASA Hubble Space Telescope, which was damaged and did not perform as designed because of a particle smaller than 0.5 microns.

Cleanrooms are frequently found in electronics, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, medical device industries and other critical manufacturing environments. But according to another recent market research report, it is the rising adoption of cleanrooms in pharmaceutical and medical devices industries that is expected to boost the global cleanroom technology market. The report assesses the valuation and size of the global cleanroom technology market and projects the market to grow at a CAGR of 5.2% during the period between 2014 and 2020, though restrained by the lack of experienced professionals, as well as high costs associated with the setup and maintenance of cleanrooms.

* Global Market Study on Cleanroom Technology: Consumables to Witness Highest Growth by 2020 (Persistence Market Research)
* Global Cleanroom Disposable Gloves Market (Product Types and Geography) – Size, Share, Global Trends, Analysis, Research, Report and Forecast, 2013 – 2020 (Big Market Research)

Andy Pye
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