Maintenance Technology May 2017 - 4

EDITORIAL

Fear or Attack Automation?

S

Gary L. Parr
Editorial Director

Will you be
in a position
to fix the
robots?

4|

helly Palmer is a technology blogger I follow
regularly (shellypalmer.com). I particularly
like his levelheaded approach to covering
technology and what it means to our daily
lives. Lately, he's written a number of columns based
on the "automation is going to take your job" theme.
He's certainly not the first to address the topic, but
he's very good at looking at both sides of the issue.
It's not hard to agree with Palmer that automation
has, is, and will take jobs away from humans. That's
basically been happening since people started
making things. Nothing new there. What goes
through my mind when I read articles on this
subject is, yes, automation takes jobs from workers
who operate machinery and automation equipment,
but does it take or does it change jobs for reliability
and maintenance professionals? While
there may be some job loss in the
reliability and maintenance
(R&M) arena as automation increases, things
still, and always will,
break. Somebody has
to know what to do
when those failures
occur.
But that doesn't
mean R&M professionals can go merrily
on about their daily
routines. You have to stay
on top of things or be left
behind. In Palmer's April 30,
2017 column "Partner, or Die," he
focuses on man/machine partnerships and lays
out some strategies for how to "survive and prosper
as robots take over the business world." Here's an
overview:
■ Invent the future. List everything you do and all
of your responsibilities, and write down how they
will be done when machines rule the world.
■ Start reading. Read everything you can about
data, data science, machine learning, AI, and
automation. Everything you need to know is
available online. Find every company that is
working on automating cognitive tasks associated
with your business. Immerse yourself in the
subject. It is your new full-time job.
■ Be "that person." This is the hardest step.

MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY

Become that person in your department who
"knows this stuff." Figure out where to use data
for better decision making and what tools to use
to automate certain tasks, and become expert in
them. Your current lack of knowledge is unimportant. You can learn, so learn!
■ Propose a test project. After you have figured
out which assets (people included) need to be
combined to accomplish your test project, build
a short, uncomplicated presentation to articulate
what you will try to accomplish and benchmarks
you will use. You will be surprised at how quickly
management says yes. If management does not
say yes, you are working in a company that is
not going to exist much longer, so look for a
job where you get permission to use your new
knowledge.
■ Show your results. Build another presentation
that describes the problem you identified and
solved with data science, data scientific research,
machine learning, and the automation or the
automated systems you built, conscripted, used,
partnered with, and/or purchased. Make it easy to
understand and obvious.
■ Revel in your success and repeat. With your
initial success will come a "hallway handle," something that gets thrown around by two coworkers
passing in the hall, such as, "Hey, what are you
working on?" "Joe's data project." Embrace it, own
it, love it. It's your pathway to gainful employment
for the next decade and beyond.
Palmer concludes his column by stating, "The
way to prosper in an ever-more-automated world is
to create your competitive advantage by becoming
the best possible man/machine partner. If you let the
machines do what they do best, combine that with
what you do best, and, most importantly, demonstrate the value of you and your machine skills to
management, you will not only survive the attack of
the machines, you will be stronger for it." MT

gparr@maintenancetechnology.com
Correction

The article "Eliminate Electrical Arc-Related Dangers,"
in the March 2017 issue, p. 33, contains an error.
The tables for hazard-risk categories and levels of
PPE that employers must provide are found in NFPA
70E, "Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace," not the National Electrical Code, as stated.
We apologize for any confusion.
MAY 2017


http://www.shellypalmer.com

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