The missing link in the supply chain

Are human really losing jobs in manufacturing?

Since the automation process began there has been the cry that machines will replace people on the factory floor, but what’s the reality of this? Warehouse robots are getting more sophisticated certainly, but they’re not capable of fixing themselves yet so there is still work for people on the shop floor.

Warehouse robots are resulting in less menial warehouse jobs, but the fact is they are creating sklled jobs for the IT sector as people are needed to maintain the robots. The unskilled workforce can still do things robots can’t. Care assistants for the elderly for example. This needs human interaction and the population is aging.

Back in the warehouse, robots can take care of mundane tasks but they need more attention than most people realize. Robots can do the job quicker, don’t get sick, don’t complain about the long hours, and can do jobs deemed too dangerous for humans, but they are high maintenance and the assumption that they work “for free” is not true. They are expensive and skilled people are needed to make sure they run properly.

A panic about humans losing their jobs to robots has been echoing since the very beginning of production-line automation, but people are still there and they always will be.

Smartphones for example—the poster child for our modern, high-tech life—are one of the most handmade products on the market. How they are produced is three steps behind current atomization processes. Because of the size of the devices and the many components involved, it is less complicated and cheaper to have human on that production line. People are more adaptable than machines and don’t need reprogrammed when they have to move from one task to the next.

Recently, I was in a modern factory warehouse to witness the marvel of the self-driving vehicles at work in an “unmanned” warehouse. The vehicles are programmed to deliver goods to the floor, but can only deliver to designated spots. If a delivery needed to be made quickly or to another spot, a man-driven forklift truck was used. This “unmanned” warehouse wasn’t unmanned at all. It needed a team to do the same job as the vehicles only more efficiently, not to mention the team needed to maintain robots. This will always be the case.