October 3, 2022
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA

Automation Isn’t the Biggest Threat to US Factory Jobs


Numbers American workers who quit their jobs during the epidemic – more than a fifth of the workforce – could form one of the largest American labor movements in recent history. Employees demanded higher wages and better conditions, driven by rising inflation and epidemic perceptions that employers expected them to risk their lives for lower wages, moderate benefits and some protection from objectionable customers – often when corporate stock prices rise. At the same time, automation has become cheaper and smarter than before. Robot adoption in 2021 has reached record heights. This is not surprising given the previous trend of robotics, but it was probably accelerated due to the shortage of epidemic-related personnel and the need for Covid-19 protection. Will the robot automatically remove jobs from the millennial entitled people who “don’t want to work” or can this technology really improve employee jobs and help companies attract more enthusiastic employees?

The answer depends on more than what is technically possible, including what actually happens when a new robot is installed in a factory or a cashier’s isle is replaced by a self-checkout booth – and what future prospects await displaced workers and their children. Doing 6 So far, we know that profits from automation have proven to be infamous. A key component of productivity growth in the 20th century came from the replacement of workers with technology, and economist Carl Benedict Frey noted that American productivity increased by 400 percent from 1930 to 2000, while average leisure time increased by only 3 percent. (Since 1979, American labor productivity, or the dollar created per worker, has increased eight times faster than workers’ hourly wages.) During this period, technological luxury became necessary and new types of jobs developed – while labor unions ensured that living wages disappeared. Has become and less educated workers are lagging behind high school and college degree holders. But trends vary across industrialized countries: from 1995 to 2013, the United States experienced a 1.3 percent gap between productivity growth and moderate wage growth, but in Germany the gap was only 0.2 percent.

Adoption of technology will continue to increase, whether America will be able to distribute technological advantages evenly. So the question is, how much control do we actually have over automation? How much of this control depends on national or regional policy, and how much power can individual organizations and workers have in their own workplaces? Is it inevitable that robots and artificial intelligence will take over all our work and in what time frame? Although some scholars believe that our destiny is predetermined by technology, emerging evidence suggests that we may have considerable influence on how such machines are employed in our factories and offices – if only we can determine how to use this power.

Where 6 percent Between 1993 and 2009, German manufacturing workers quit their jobs (voluntarily or unintentionally), and 34 percent of U.S. manufacturing workers quit their jobs during the same period. Thanks to bargaining in the workplace and the determination of sectoral wages, German manufacturing workers have better financial incentives to stay in their jobs; The conference board reported that the average German manufacturing worker earned $ 43.18 per hour (plus $ 8.88 benefit) in 2016, while the average American manufacturing worker earned $ 39.03 for just $ 3.66. Overall, Germans earned $ 24.31 per hour in 2016 across economies with “medium-skill” high school or vocational certificates, compared to the average American’s $ 14.55 per hour with comparable education. The two case studies illustrate the differences between the American and German approaches to staff production and automation, from policy to staff training system supply chains.

A town on the outskirts of the Black Forest in Baden-W্টrttemberg, Germany, full of winding roads and red roofs, there is a 220-person factory that has spent decades as the world leader in safety-critical fabricated metal tools for sites. As highway tunnels, airports and nuclear reactors. Next to a few acres of golden mustard flowers it is a spacious, innocuous warehouse. When I visit with my colleagues from the MIT Interactive Robotics Group and the Future Work Lab at Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (part of various German government-backed Fraunhofer networks for industrial research and development), Unlike the 14th-century church downtown, the factory hasn’t changed much in its 25-year tenure. Adolescents still entered the firm as apprentices in metallurgy through the German dual-work vocational system, and the wages were high enough that most young people would stay in the factory and be promoted to positions until retirement, earning a respectable living along the way. Smaller German manufacturers may also receive government subsidies to help send their workers back to school to learn new skills that are often the equivalent of higher wages. The manager worked closely with a nearby technical university to develop advanced welding certifications and is proud to rely on local firms, technology integrators, welding trade associations and the “welding family” of educational institutions to support new technologies and training.

Our research team also visited a 30-person factory in urban Ohio that produces metal products made for the automotive industry, not far from the city’s empty warehouses and closed office buildings. The owner of the factory, a grandson of the firm’s founder, has complained about losing a job near him, willing to offer his unskilled, minimum wage technicians a better salary. “We’re like a training ground for big companies,” he said He gave up finding staff with relevant training and resigned to find unskilled workers who could be expected to be trained on the job. About 65 percent of his company’s business was used to go to an automotive supplier, which outsourced its metal production in China in 2009, forcing the Ohio firm to shrink to one-third of its previous workforce.

The Baden-W্টrttemberg factory controls market share by selling specialized final products at a premium price, while the Ohio factory manufactures products for sale to intermediaries, who then sell them to powerful automotive companies. So the Ohio firm had to compete with low-wage, bulk producers in China, while the highly specialized German firm had some foreign or domestic competitors that forced it to shrink its skilled workforce or low wages.

Welding robots have replaced some of the work of workers in the two factories, but both are still actively hiring new people. The German firm’s first robot purchased in 2018 was a new “collaborative” welding arm (with a friendly user interface) designed to be operated by welding experts instead of professional robot programmers who do not know the intricacies of welding. Training welders to operate robots is no problem in Baden-W্টrttemberg, where everyone who comes as a new welder has a vocational degree that represents at least two years of education and hands-on apprenticeship in welding, metal fabrication and 3D modeling. Several of the firm’s welders have already learned to operate the robot, with prior training. And although the German farm manager was pleased to save labor costs, his main reason for acquiring the robot was to improve workers’ health and safety and reduce the annoying, repetitive welding sequences – so that he could attract skilled young workers who would be around. Another German factory we visited recently acquired a robot to operate a machine during night shifts so that fewer workers have to work overtime or come at night.


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