With the rise of AI and automation in manufacturing, the press loves to publish sensational articles like, “Automation Could Eliminate 75 Million Jobs.”Or, “Robots Could Replace 800 Million People By 2030.” We disagree. Manufacturing needs humans more than ever with hiring up more than it's been in decades.
Manufacturers redesigned production spaces and increased automation continuously for years. These trends demand more skilled workers. In fact, U.S. manufacturing employment has grown steadily since the Great Recession. In 2010, there were less than 11.5 million manufacturing jobs. In 2018, there are more than 12.75 million. There’s no doubt manufacturing is getting more advanced, but more than ever, modern factories depend on creative, intelligent employees. To remain relevant, high-skill manufacturing jobs are evolving with automation.
“A rigorous study of the impact of robots in manufacturing, agriculture, and utilities across 17 countries, for instance, found that robots did reduce the hours of lower-skilled workers—but they didn’t decrease the total hours worked by humans, and they actually boosted wages. In other words, automation may affect the kind of work humans do, but at the moment, it’s hard to see that it’s leading to a world without work.” – Wired
The best manufacturers use robotics to assist employees. In April 2018, Elon Musk wrote, “Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.” In recent history, robots have created new jobs. Other jobs have adapted to automation.
Maintenance: Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) cannot do the work of a skilled technician. They can prioritize tasks and minimize disruptions. Before the 1980s, maintenance data was recorded with pen and paper, now technicians can focus on maintenance, not on paperwork.
Product Design: Years ago, product designers sketched ideas by hand. Today, CAD/CAM makes the design process more precise and efficient without eliminating skilled professionals. CAD/CAM just requires different skills.
Prototyping: The responsibilities of prototype lab managers and engineers have changed with additive manufacturing. Now engineers can quickly validate prototypes before going to production—saving operators and machinists time, money and headaches.These adaptations proves that human ingenuity can’t be replaced by machines.
Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 13, 2018
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