Industrial Automation Blog

Industrial Automation

The Industrial Automation Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about machine control, information and intelligence, motors and drives, instruments, sensors and networking. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Previous in Blog: Is Cloud Computing Right for Manufacturing?   Next in Blog: Right Time for Smart Mobiles?
Close
Close
Close
9 comments

Does Automation Create Jobs?

Posted October 13, 2011 7:00 AM

Many Westerners believe that automation has reduced jobs, but workers in newly industrialized Asian countries would disagree. In the case of the latter, production has created revenue, revenue has been used to buy more equipment, and more equipment means jobs are created to build, operate, and maintain them. Can these two views be reconciled? If properly managed, does automation create jobs? What mitigating factors come into play?

The preceding article is a "sneak peek" from Industrial Automation, a newsletter from GlobalSpec. To stay up-to-date and informed on industry trends, products, and technologies, subscribe to Industrial Automation today.

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Power-User
Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - Control Engineering Technical Fields - Education - Industrial Training Engineering Fields - Manufacturing Engineering - Manufacturing Training Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - Electrical engineering Training Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - Instrumentation Engineering United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Energy Engineering - Become part of the larger group, change your world.

Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: St. Louis, MO. USA
Posts: 269
Good Answers: 1
#1

Re: Does Automation Create Jobs?

10/13/2011 9:27 AM

You would need to look at actual numbers to properly answer and it will most likely vary by company, by industry, and by country. Example 100 hand assembly workers replaced by 1 assembly machine. To build that one machine, the OEM might have hired 1 additional employee. Indirect hiring might result in another 4 additional employees. So in this example, 100 employees where replaced with 5 by automation. Those 95 employees will need to get additional training for possible new job in new industry. Manufacturing as whole is is still an enabler for a country, because it is not how many employees an industry adds, it is how much that industry increases the GDP and how much additional revinue the industry brings into the country. # of employees is not the metric to gauge how an industry is doing.

__________________
AB PLC Training onsite, On-Line, training software and more. BIN95.com
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Associate

Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Ontario
Posts: 52
Good Answers: 2
#3
In reply to #1

Re: Does Automation Create Jobs?

10/14/2011 1:57 AM

You could also imagine not replacing the 100 workers with one assembly machine, and then the company is unable to compete in the long run and go bust, not even the 5 new jobs are saved....

But if the new machine is installed and works well the unit price can drop significantly and more sales result and soon a second assembly machine will be needed together with more skilled maintenance workers and higher profit for the company

Just a thought experiment

__________________
Fools rush in where wise men fear to go...
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Power-User
Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - Control Engineering Technical Fields - Education - Industrial Training Engineering Fields - Manufacturing Engineering - Manufacturing Training Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - Electrical engineering Training Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - Instrumentation Engineering United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Energy Engineering - Become part of the larger group, change your world.

Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: St. Louis, MO. USA
Posts: 269
Good Answers: 1
#4
In reply to #3

Re: Does Automation Create Jobs?

10/14/2011 7:21 AM

So true Far, a great contribution to this though experiment.

__________________
AB PLC Training onsite, On-Line, training software and more. BIN95.com
Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Geelong, Australia
Posts: 1084
Good Answers: 54
#2

Re: Does Automation Create Jobs?

10/13/2011 11:58 PM

Is the question about when the economy is growing or in steady state.

Obviously in a growing economy automation allows you to expand and capture the market (so there are jobs for everyone involved).

In a static economy you sell by taking someone else's market share, so reducing costs by automation makes your products cheaper but puts people out of work.

That's why all governments around the world want their economy growing and if it isn't they try to kick start it by lavish spending.

Whether continuous growth is possible is another question.

__________________
If there's something you don't understand...Then a wizard did it. As heard on "The Simpsons".
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Power-User
Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - Control Engineering Technical Fields - Education - Industrial Training Engineering Fields - Manufacturing Engineering - Manufacturing Training Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - Electrical engineering Training Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - Instrumentation Engineering United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Energy Engineering - Become part of the larger group, change your world.

Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: St. Louis, MO. USA
Posts: 269
Good Answers: 1
#5
In reply to #2

Re: Does Automation Create Jobs?

10/14/2011 7:35 AM

This is true too Ffej. Just like I said, "most likely vary by company, by industry, and by country", it depends on that particular situation. Another example, the company may chose not grow, but invest capital gained in another facility, company or even another country. Each instance of automation replacing workers is unique and has to be looked at as so.

An extreme example of just how unique each situation can be, and all the many metrics that would need to be analyzed ... ATM machines (automation) replacing bank tellers. With that, the product (cash withdraws) didn't didn't get cheaper for consumer, worker found jobs elsewhere relatively easy, and extra profits gained most likely invested in other countries or at least other industries.

__________________
AB PLC Training onsite, On-Line, training software and more. BIN95.com
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: srilanka
Posts: 2725
Good Answers: 5
#6

Re: Does Automation Create Jobs?

10/14/2011 7:38 AM

Automation creates unemployment among untrained personnel doing manual operative jobs,which is the majority of workers. Automation cuts down them and create jobs to maintain machinery but those machines are imported not made in many countries. When we talk about economy or nation we should not forget employment,otherwise unemployed people will take drugs, commit crimes,join rebels,rob,steal,set fire etc

__________________
pnaban
Reply
Commentator
Canada - Member - Proud to be Canadian

Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 68
Good Answers: 4
#7

Re: Does Automation Create Jobs?

10/14/2011 10:17 AM

If you improve production people need to earn enough money to be able to afford the goods that are produced. Automation reduces the number of people earning money to buy the goods. The fewer people who are employed are more highly slilled and highly paid and can afford the good life.

Jobs move overseas where the labour is cheaper but the people can't afford the products they are making so companies export. Slowly the wages increase and people can afford the goods they are producing. Companies think they can make more money if they automate more or move to a cheaper country but that creates unemployment. Japan is an example of that where jobs have moved to China and robots are replacing people.

China is installing robots in their factories at an alarming rate. Will the masses ever be able to afford the goods that are being produced?

More and more people can only afford Dollar Store or Wall Mart quality products. The majority of people in the west earn their living pushing paper and get paid well even though they are producing nothing. How long can that last?

Reply
2
Guru
Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Engineering Fields - Energy Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - Old Member, New Association

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Lexington, KY
Posts: 1640
Good Answers: 72
#8

Re: Does Automation Create Jobs?

10/14/2011 11:52 AM

Automation NEVER did anything wrong. Poor management is always the problem.

For an engineering blog, I find it hard to believe that this obvious conclusion isn't the only one that makes sense. If a product is properly designed for automation then building automation around it is the way to make the most profit. The problem is simply one of the inability to determine demand.

Most automation has only been put into place when it was obviously needed to stay competitive. This is no longer an option. The floodgates have been opened to cheap labor so the only way to stay competitive is to design with the intent to bring automation on line as soon as possible.

Consequently, forward thinking companies will create jobs with automation because making products with manual labor is very costly.

So, now that this is clear, the question becomes one of how to become the lowest cost producer. If that is managed poorly, the opportunities will be lost. When it comes to making things work nicely, the last place you want to look is some unqualified manager. Those are a dime-a-dozen.

__________________
A great troubleshooting tip...."When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Guru
Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Vancleave, Ms about 30 miles inland from Biloxi and the coast
Posts: 3198
Good Answers: 105
#9

Re: Does Automation Create Jobs?

10/15/2011 1:09 PM

Opening an industry building robots doesn't mean that industry will hire more people to build those robots. Robots are used to build robots; at least parts of them. They still rely on humans to assemble and test them. It is safe to say; more jobs are lost through automation than are created.

Although a lot of bad press is associated with robots, there is still a lot of good praise for them. They don't make mistakes or get tired like humans; they are more precise than any human could ever be, especially when repeatability is needed. We would like not to depend on robots, but they are indispensible in producing the products that we take for granted. A CNC machine can produce a part in seconds that would take a human hours to make and be repeatedly precise with no mistakes.

__________________
Mr.Ron from South Ms.
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 9 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

BIN95 (3); Far (1); ffej (1); NotUrOrdinaryJoe (1); pnaban (1); ronseto (1); Stan The Man (1)

Previous in Blog: Is Cloud Computing Right for Manufacturing?   Next in Blog: Right Time for Smart Mobiles?

Advertisement