In my opinion, new technologies will not trigger mass unemployment. I have already analysed this subject, but I would like to repeat the concept to avoid any misunderstanding concerning what I am about to write in this post.
I would like to return to a topic that – from what I understand from your many comments every time this topic is broached – impacts most manufacturers in the mechanical and electromechanical industries (but not alone!), and refers to the difficulty in finding specialized technical operators.
If we think of all the new technologies available and the lack of specialized technical operators, a question springs to mind:
could certain technologies – such as automation systems – replace part of the work that a specialized technical operator would do?
I ask this because, according to some manufacturers of such solutions, there seems to be an increase in requests for such devices by small and micro enterprises. If, therefore, until a short time ago, only large enterprises were purchasing automation systems – i.e. those with a certain economic capacity which basically invested in such solutions to become more competitive with the low labour costs of many far off countries – the situation seems to have changed.
But what does this change actually consist of?
And, therefore, what could persuade a small enterprise to invest in automation systems?
For example, and here we tie up with the core issue of this post, the difficulty in recruiting specialised technical operators. If an enterprise decides to automate a large part of its production, this means that a considerable amount of work will be performed by machines and connected systems, and the tasks of the specialised operator will mainly consist of selecting the various work cycles and ensuring the machines are in a condition to operate autonomously (during both day and night shifts). Once this has been completed, however, a less qualified operator will be sufficient to supervise the unmanned work of the machines.
So could the implementation of automation systems be a solution to the difficulty in recruiting specialised operators? To a certain extent yes, but …
… another aspect should be taken into account. If the production of a manufacturing company is mainly characterized by small lots (as is the case of MICROingranaggi), the situation changes completely, because – although the machines are able to operate autonomously – each work cycle would be so short as to require the constant presence of an operator to reset and refit the machine between each cycle.
Moral of the story: the implementation of automation systems could be a solution to the difficulty in recruiting specialised operators for enterprises managing medium-large or large production lots, or at least with families of product lots characterised by certain common processing operations.
To conclude, if we talk about automation and unmanned operations, we should remember that, if the production refers to parts characterized by very strict tolerances, it will also be necessary to integrate control systems that will have to be automated as well.