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Modern Automation in the Workplace
Juggling the good and the bad of automation in today's workplace
Modern Automation in the Workplace
Juggling the good and the bad of automation in today's workplace
July 12, 2019
he date is February 21, 1804. The location is Abercynon village in South Wales. This day marked the first railway journey of a steam locomotive. Built by Richard Trevithick, the locomotive hauled five wagons, seventy men, and ten tons of iron nearly ten miles at a blazing speed of 2.4 miles per hour. The journey took over four hours to complete and would become another milestone in mankind’s journey of automation.

Modern Automation

Automation today is a seemingly never ending battle between marvelous ideals and harsh realities. Whether you’re an engineer, architect, accountant, or just someone programming an Excel macro to update your fantasy football roster, everyone seeks cheaper and easier ways to increase production while simultaneously reducing labor costs. Many companies are making huge strides in automating their daily processes.

One example is the use of chat bots being used in the place of traditional customer support providers. The music streaming platform, Spotify, has millions of users across the globe and has found chat bots extremely effective and efficient in addressing any simple customer issues that arise.

Another modern example of automation is the use of software solutions such as Gusto. Gusto allows Human Resource leaders to sort through incredible amounts of employee data to improve employee satisfaction. Gusto consolidates payroll, benefits, and other employee plans into one package and allows its customers to analyze that data easily. Hulu, Johnson & Johnson, and Roche are all utilizing such software to automate some of their processes.

Drone technology has become a hot topic over the last few years. The applications for drone technology in the quest for automation seem to be limitless. Covering the news and routine airplane inspections are now common uses for drones. In 2013, news outlet BBC first used drones to capture unique footage of the HS2 railway project in the United Kingdom. BBC has continued to use drones to fly over war zones, natural disasters, and other dangerous situations that normally required a manned helicopter flight. Drones are also now used in EasyJet’s airplane inspections. The drones are used to check the airplanes for any lightning damage sustained while flying. These automated inspections can save hours of time and EasyJet one day hopes that fully automated inspections will eliminate flight delays.

Unfortunately, these benefits are not without downsides. One of these is the capital that must be invested in order to begin the process of automating. Automated machines can cost millions of dollars to fully install, and they require more maintenance than manually operated machines.

The largest downside to automation may be worker displacement. Many jobs that businesses are looking to eliminate comprise a large portion of the current workforce. In 2017, a report by McKinsey Global Institute stated that as many as 73 million jobs could be lost to automation. Generally these jobs are filled by workers with either specialized skills or those with only high school diplomas. The elimination of these jobs could impose a massive detriment to economies that were looking for the benefit of automation. Of course, some of this will be offset as the influx of AI-led machines leads to new jobs in the technology sector in order to maintain and further the progress of the now automated workforce. How much is still up in the air.

As society continues to juggle these issues in the march for automation, we as the beneficiaries should appreciate the progress we have made and do all that we can to insure the best future for our descendants.

Tyler Bruce and Zachary Coon
Engineering Interns ~ ConnectShip
Tyler Bruce and Zachary Coon are Summer 2019 Engineering Interns for ConnectShip.

Tyler Bruce
Tyler Bruce is a Computer Science major at Oklahoma State University with an anticipated graduation date of May 2020. Tyler has earned an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science from Tulsa Community College. In his free time, Tyler enjoys working with computers, playing video games, and fishing at his dad’s pond. He also enjoys hanging out with his family, especially his nieces.

Zachary Coon
Zach Coon is a senior at Baylor University studying computer and electrical engineering, with a minor in computer science. He has a scheduled graduation date of May 2020. Zach is from a small town in Texas. When he is not studying for school you can usually find him on an Xbox, a golf course, his ranch, or a lake fishing with his dad and brother.