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Technological Advancements

The Race Between Humans and Robots

 

The ongoing fear that robots will one day take over all of our jobs may not be as accurate as once believed. Many manufacturing companies are beginning to focus more effort on increasing the efficiency of their workforce, rather than investing in automation and equipment. Their thought is that investments in machines have a higher risk of going to waste if there’s a downturn in the economy. The chance that robots can be left sitting unused out weighs the benefit of increased productivity.

However, this isn’t the case at every manufacturing company. Big name corporations like Tesla are making huge investments in equipment in an effort to make the entire factory floor automated. This method certainly has the benefit of a faster and more efficient process but if business begins to dip these investments will be hard to reverse.

Spending on robotics is estimated to be about $90 billion in 2018, with a large portion of that spending coming from the industrial and manufacturing industries. Yet many companies are beginning to optimize how they use employees rather than purchasing more machines. Skilled workers are a key component in making these machines run efficiently. The integration of employees AND technology is what will make these manufacturing companies more productive.

It seems that humans are coming out on top in the race between humans and robots. These machines still need human hands operating them. The next challenge is finding the skilled workers necessary to operate this equipment, and with unemployment below 4% wages are going up and skilled workers are harder to find. Moving forward it will be increasingly important to invest in current employees.

For more information about the race between robots and humans read the full article here.

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Tomorrow’s Technology and Skill Sets: A Perpetual State of Flux

By Guest Blogger Elisha Tropper

The World Economic Forum recently released their Future of Jobs 2018 report which simultaneously hailed and warned about the imminence of what it refers to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  This revolution refers to the technological advancement across all aspects of society that will substantially disrupt the labor requirements and, by extension, the workforce and its livelihoods, across all industries. The disruption, according to the study, will ultimately net a positive number of new jobs, but will “entail difficult transitions for millions of workers and the need for proactive investment in developing a new surge of agile learners and skilled talent globally.”

Regardless of which sector of the economy you occupy, it is crystal clear that automation is no longer an option. It must be an essential focus of every single business, from manufacturing and medicine to accounting and transportation. Like transformative implementable philosophies such as Lean Manufacturing and Continuous Improvement, the effective design and execution of automated solutions in any organization can only result from a forward-thinking, company-wide cultural shift. As the WEF study so pointedly observes, the rise in robotics and automation will eliminate human tasks, not jobs.

“As has been the case throughout economic history, such augmentation of existing jobs through technology is expected to create wholly new tasks—from app development to piloting drones to remotely monitoring patient health to certified care workers—opening up opportunities for an entirely new range of livelihoods for workers.”  In other words, employees need not fear for their jobs per se; they need to understand that flexibility and continuous training for new tasks will be the new norm – if it’s not already.

For businesses, the challenge is to strike the balance between maximizing current output, investing in new technologies, and preparing its workforce for a future that will require different skill sets and knowledge bases.  Just as machine operators incrementally replaced manual laborers along the production line, so too will the developers, programmers, builders, and installers of smart technologies replace the current machine operators.  The fact is that the implementation of new technologies drives business growth AND both job creation and the altering of existing positions, but only if the business can provide the proper vision and new-skills-based-training to a motivated and adaptable workforce.

Most companies will face significant challenges as they pursue a new equilibrium. It is inevitable that skill gaps and the disruption they carry will emerge at all levels, from the boardroom to the factory floor.  These skill gaps will have the potential to wreak havoc across companies, workforces, and even entire communities.  It is up to the management of every company to anticipate what is coming, embrace its imminence, and develop transformation plans that encompass solutions at both the process and people level.  The successful companies of the future are those who recognize today the requirements of tomorrow, all the while understanding that both technologies and skill sets are permanently in a perpetual state of flux.

Elisha Tropper is the CEO of Cambridge Security Seals, a Pomona, New York-based manufacturer of tamper-evident security devices.

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