When automation works against output
Robots are no magic bullet for our country’s productivity and skills shortage woes
By now most people would have heard prophecies of a jobless future where machines do all our work and entire industries are displaced due to robotic automation. In December, a McKinsey Global Institute report found that as many as 375-million workers worldwide may need to switch professions by 2030 due to automation. However, Elon Musk’s capitulation that excessive automation at his Tesla Motors factories directly caused production delays should ring the warning bells for local firms. Robots are no magic bullet for our country’s productivity and skills shortage woes. In fact, technology is most effective when it empowers human performance capability, not when it replaces it. While reports suggest a future where robots take over nearly all aspects of human labour, Tesla’s automotive peers have shown that in many respects there is no replacement for humans as an integral aspect of the manufacturing process. For example, Toyota has relied on human skills at its Georgetown, Kentucky, as...