Will Automation Hurt Or Help Manufacturing Jobs?

Ever since the dawn of automation processes, there has been a fear that it would eventually wipe out all of the human jobs that currently exist. It does seem that this particular extreme fear was probably unfounded, or at least a little over the top. 

But it is certainly the case that automation will remove some jobs. In the world of manufacturing in particular, many people would like to be a little clearer on what kind of an impact automation is going to have on jobs. In this article, we are going to take a look at how much automation looks set to hurt or help manufacturing jobs across the board—and what this means for a manufacturing company like yours.

Smart & Lean Manufacturing

While it is certainly true that manufacturing jobs have taken a hit since robotics and automation hit the production floor, which was around the year 2000, it might not all be as bad as we assume. There are many ways to mitigate job loss even as your manufacturing plant becomes even more dependent on smart and IoT devices and increases methods for Lean Manufacturing. 

But what are smart and lean manufacturing methods?

Smart manufacturing is a technology-driven approach to production, in which internet-connected machines of varying kinds form a collaborative process that respond in real-time to changing conditions. It is yet to be fully developed in quite the same way as Lean Manufacturing, but initiatives and technology innovations in the smart manufacturing sector are certainly increasing. 

Lean Manufacturing, conversely, is a process of manufacturing which seeks to minimize waste as much as possible and thus increase productivity at the same time. Methods associated with Lean Manufacturing are already being used in a number of national manufacturing plants, and they are shown to be highly effective. Lean Manufacturing aims to improve efficiency by reducing downtime, which is always a top priority for any manufacturer.

The Impact on Jobs

The reason that these are both so important when it comes to automation is that efforts to increase smart communication between technologies and reduce waste in Lean Manufacturing could mean human jobs are lost along the way. However, with the onset of such technologies as cobots that are designed to work in collaboration with human employees, it could be the case that jobs evolve rather than disappear within the manufacturing sector to better meet the needs of increasingly smart plants.

For new Lean Manufacturing methods to be implemented efficiently while human jobs remain necessary, it’s important that plants have a range of employees who are skilled in using the various machines and processes within it. Training your current employees on new automation technology and how to work with it is a good way to ensure that you are making use of technology while also keeping a hold of many jobs in your company, and even creating a number of new ones as the manufacturing sector seeks to teach new skills to the incoming workforce that adapts to smart and Lean technologies.

It helps, of course, to have a reliable company with advanced manufacturing solutions on your side, which is why working with an andon systems company can help ensure your business implements automated tools and technology such as Andon systems efficiently and without disrupting normal operations. 

As your business makes plans to implement new technology and automated processes, new opportunities for skills to be learned and jobs to be filled will arise. Despite the fear that automation will completely overrun the human workforce, there are still several ways to integrate technology and human effort to create innovative and efficient collaboration that stands at the forefront of the latest technology methods.