The MHEDA Journal - Third Quarter, 2015 - (Page 59)

INDuSTRy AUTOMATION TRENDS Automation and Labor Can't they get along? BY SCOTT STONE, CISCO-EAGLE T here's no doubt about it: Automation and robotics in the manufacturing sector are here to stay. In fact, recent research shows that robot orders and shipments in North America set new records during the first three quarters of 2014, accounting for an increase of 35% in units and 22% in dollars over the same period in 2013. This trend is hastened by a number of factors, but primarily it's about costs. While the costs of automation like robotics, vision systems, software, carousels, conveyors, and other systems are declining or remaining relatively static, almost all other costs-labor, land, energy-are rising. This creates a large incentive to automate. It's particularly strong as these automation technologies are also more effective and flexible than ever. But many American workers worry that companies' increasing investment in automation means they'll eventually be out of a job. A study by researchers at the University of Oxford indicates there might be some truth to that argument; the report shows that 47% of American jobs are at high risk of being automated in the years to come, due to advances in data mining, machine vision, artificial intelligence, and other technologies. On the other hand, many would argue that automation doesn't replace, but rather enhances, skilled labor in the warehouse, paving the way for more efficient, productive, and intelligent industrial operations. All of this begs the question: What is the actual impact of automation on employment? The following is a look at a handful of ways automation and labor can complement, instead of work against, each other: Automation as a Solution to the Shortage of Skilled Labor A recent study from Accenture and The Manufacturing Institute shows that the current lack of skilled and highly-skilled manufacturing workers has measurable financial impacts on U.S. manufacturers, including reduced annual earnings of up to 11% and increased production costs. A Manufacturing Leadership article indicates that shortage-related erosion comes from the greater manufacturer spending on employee overtime, more downtime, quality problems, and customer dissatisfaction, among other factors. Worsening skills shortage comes at a time when many older skilled workers are about to retire and as many manufacturers are gearing up to increase production. While it's not possible (or The MHEDA Journal | Third Quar ter 2 015 59

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The MHEDA Journal - Third Quarter, 2015

President’s Perspective
From the Desk of Liz Richards
Editor’s Note
Ask Your Board
In Memory
MHEDA University Calendar
MHEDA Member Profile
@ Work
Industry Pulse
Happy Anniversary!
Best of the Best
Celebrating Material Handling Rock Stars
An Interactive Experience
The Trend Toward Automation
Automation and Labor
How to Talk to Someone Significantly Younger or Les Experienced Than You
Integrating Your Online Presence into a Mobile Market
The Other Competitive Advantage
Hack-Proof Your Company’s Social Media
MHEDA Convention Recap
Turning Sales into Profit
Ten Reasons Why You Can’t Fill Jobs
Sucesion Planning
New Members
Spotlight on Association News
MHEDA Milestones
Index to Advertisers by Product Category
The Last Word

The MHEDA Journal - Third Quarter, 2015