The Impact of Automation on Manufacturing

Automation and robotics is here, just like steam power in the 1780s, electricity in the 1870s, and computing systems in the 1960s. For a workplace to realise the benefits of automation it must adapt.

The Impact of Automation on Manufacturing

The 'Impact of Automation on Manufacturing' is a whitepaper published by Scott that discusses the impact automation has on manufacturing workplaces, in relation to jobs, productivity and profitability, yield and quality as well as health and safety. You can read the summary below and download the full article HERE.

Summary

Some of the challenges facing business today include shortage of labour, declining unemployment rates and high staff turnover.  The impact of these trends can be expected to intensify in the future with the global trend of population aging.  Here we share a perspective showing how automation can address these challenges.

There is a perception that with automation and robotics come job losses. Here we consider this along with new job creation. The debate is not whether automation has a positive or negative impact on jobs; the debate is the magnitude of the impact of automation on jobs.

In a well-designed automated solution there will be benefits of productivity and yield improvements.  These topics are well researched and here we provide several case-studies. 

The impact of automation on health and safety on a macro level is not as well studied as its impact on jobs or productivity but in some industries the incident rates have been decreasing as automation has been increasing. Furthermore, automation allows staff to be removed from high hazard work environments.

For the benefits of automation to be realised however, the work place needs to adapt.   There is agreement among some scholars and stakeholders that a smooth adoption of more automation calls for:

  • Investing in R&D and human capital such as highly skilled mechanics, engineers, and big data personnel
  • Redesigning workflow and workspace to facilitate human-machine collaboration
  • Actively setting and implementing digital safety standards including data security, privacy, and malicious use etc.
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