Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The 10 most popular applications for robots

Apropos of our earlier discussions about jobs, take a look at this video clip from ABB Robotics.  It shows the 10 most popular uses for robots in industry.

It's one of many videos from ABB Robotics on YouTube, showing many different applications for these mechanical thingumajigs.

Now look at it this way.  Every single job shown above, and almost all of the ones illustrated in the company's other videos, were not so long ago performed by human beings.  All of those jobs no longer exist . . . for people.

They won't be coming back.

What does that say about the future of ever more jobs of a similar nature?  It's no wonder the auto workers unions and similar organizations are worried.  Most of their members are going to be out of a job in their traditional fields before many more years have passed.  Take a look at these articles:

I know people have been 'scare-mongering' for decades about the dangers of automation to human jobs.  It's no longer scare-mongering - it's already here.  China, whose population depends for employment on that country's status as the largest manufacturer of consumer goods in the world, is no exception - its own factories are beginning to replace even low-wage assembly workers with robots, promising a social revolution.  In India, as one commentator points out, "Fifteen machines would have needed 15 operators a few years ago ... Now, one man can run 10 machines."

If you have kids who are entering or will soon be entering the job market, they need to understand the implications of this revolution.  What Mike Rowe refers to as 'dirty jobs' will still be there, and be well-paid, because they've got to be done and it's not worth the capital investment to create robots to do them.  Creative, inventive occupations for the self-employed will also be there (including writing, thank Heaven!).  However, many occupations popular today - including computer programming, delivery of basic health care (even extending to some surgical procedures), tax preparation, and so on - are already in decline for humans as robots and intelligent computer systems take over.



MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter,

I can attest to that, I worked at the Ford Atlanta Assembly plant that made Tauruses and Sables. When the plant was redesigned in 1996, we got a bunch of "Yamaha" spot weld" robots. The robots could do a precision job in a nasty environment. I was classified as a "utility" which means that I would have to step up and weld a certain area if a robot goes down. That didn't happen often, but let me tell you, that was a nasty job and we would not be able to keep up with the line speed.(The body shop would run 80 cars an hour) Ford liked it because you have a benchmark of quality and to be truthful, people doing the job, the quality was inconsistent. Automation would assist us in car building, doing some of the heavy jobs, that people would get injured on. At its heyday Ford Atlanta had about 5000 people, when Ford shuttered the plant in 2006 we had 2500 people on both shifts including administrative. When I see those people protesting and wanting $15 an hour to flip burgers, I just think to myself" the day they have to pay that kind of money, a lot of them will find themselves out of a job as automation will roll in due to market forces.

Chris said...

My daughter is a bartender. Yes, there are robotic drink dispensing systems, but a really good bar will have a friendly, knowledgeable group of bartenders, or lose clientele to another bar that does. Doesn't hurt that she likes to work hard for long hours and is pretty, either.

Grog said...

Why wasn't target practice included? That offends me, I'm filing a complaint with the VFW. ;)

astrodominant said...

Agree with MrGarabaldi. I work for a large manufacturer in the US and we are automating not so much out of reducing headcount but for consistent quality and having people on staff that can do the job. Exotic alloy welders are in high demand and if someone else pays them $1 more an hour they leave and take their knowledge with then.

In one of our shops failed welds (verified by X-ray analysis which is 100% of all welds) scraps forgings that have material and machine costs north of $500k. Robots eliminate that waste but we look very hard at cost/benefit before we pull that capex trigger.

Allen McDonald said...

People are an economic cost in many ways. It's not just quality. that's just one factor. As long as politicians find it beneficial to manipulate the cost of employing a human, pandering to that human for votes by raising wage limits and insurance costs, etc., businesses will respond by attempting to lower the cost of doing business by hiring fewer humans.
Add in the current failed and failing education system and humans cost too much to get to work for the work you get.
Robots are good.