How Industry Is Evolving Through Automation


A Guide To How Industry Is Evolving Through Automation

Introduction

Automation machine in a factory

As science and technology become more powerful and prominent in our lives, thanks to skilled advancements in the field, we are left with so many questions. We often question how this will affect the future.

Some people would worry about robot uprisings, Hollywood would have us view it that way, but the realism of it is very different. People also worry that this means mass job loss and automotive technology would take over some roles. However, where there is loss, there is also gain.

So, with these things in mind, what can we expect from an automotive future. The simplest answer is simply advancements on what we experience already. Many of us live with Amazon Alexa devices, or Google nests in our homes. This is a part of automation that has already become integrated into our lives, and there is much more that we do not realize we already experience every day. Yet the future beholds wonders, and in industry it is evolving the workforce.

What is Automation?

What Is Automation

So what is automation? At its more basic level, automation is a term for technology applications where human input is minimized. This can include business process automation (known as BPA), Its automation, and personal applications such as home automations (Looking at you Alexa), and even more.

If you want to look at the core of what automation is, the dictionary can define it for you, ‘the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically’. It can also be defined as the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services in industry.

Using automation technologies, processes, and techniques improves the efficiency, reliability, and the speed of many tasks that were previously performed by humans. It is used in varying industries, and while one could say that this takes away roles from humans, it also prevents human error, and the fear of human error can cause stress, thus affecting our health and life. As a result, the implementation of automation may save people from extremely stressful jobs and thus increase lifespan and worker safety.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Automation is now being used in varying areas, including manufacturing, transport utilities, defense, facilities, operations, and also information technology.  We use automation in our homes, and more and more often in our everyday lives. People may be anxious about its effect on the future, without realizing, we are already living in a very automotive world already.

The Importance of Automation

The Business Blocks

Automation is important, it is part of the driving force that helps us in advancements, technologically, medically, and in production. Without automation, products and services would not be as easily accessible and speedily acquired. Automation is a key factor in advancement.

Automation is responsible for solving complex problems, in many important aspects of different industries

The industrial world faces many technological changes over the years of growth. This has increased urgent demand for premium high-quality products and services, which are only able to be supplied through a high level of productivity. Humans are limited in this range, we need breaks, and have limits. This means that this demand required process engineers systems, automated manufacturing, and industrial automation.

Industrial automation plays a key role in solving the requirements of companies. It faces tasks of productivity and globalization.

Industrial automation works smarter, faster and proficiently. These factors together make automation more powerful, it becomes a business of solutions.

Automation professionals are responsible for solving complex problems in many important aspects of industry and its many processes. The work of these professionals is very important to the preservation of health, safety, public welfare, and the ability to sustain and enhance our quality of health overall.

Automation professionals are viewed as being highly valued in many ways. Think of cars, mobile phones, video games, music systems, basically any modern convenience or necessity. These are all the result of a complex process, and without those who design, build, improve and maintain these, none of the technological marvels would have come into being. So, while it is sensible to be anxious about an unknown future, it is also useful to note how much it has done for us so far.

Automation includes

Automation is many things, and it goes beyond the basics we may think of. You might think of driverless cars when you hear about automation, or perhaps a humanoid robot. However, it is more than that.

Robots

Sure, robots are a large part of automation. However, robots are not all like you may have seen in movies such as ‘I, Robot’. Many robotics are things used in warehouses, in scientific laboratories. NASA has their fair share of robots too.

Robots are an automotive technology, they help to build devices we use every day, they help us go into space. Remember the Mars Rover? Robotics.

Cybersecurity

Then there is cybersecurity as well. This is the application of technologies, processes and controls to protect systems, networks, programs, devices, data and so on, from cyberattacks. Things like data encryption fall under this category. Do you use WhatsApp because it encrypts your messages, allowing no one else to read them? Well, that’s automotive technology. Do you trade in Bitcoin, those blockchains that protect your data and transactions? Yes, that is automotive too.

The Types of Automation

The Types Of Automation

There are several types of automation out there. Some we will recognize as parts of our everyday lives, others are more heavily specified for the manufacturing, I.T, and industrial areas. However, all are equally important and vital to our modern way of life, and society’s evolution.

Basic automation

Basic automation is an automotive technology that takes simple, rudimentary tasks and automates them. This level of automation is about digitizing work, using tools to streamline and centralize routine tasks, such as using a shared messaging system. BPM (Business process management), and RPA (robotic process automation) are both great examples of basic automation.

BPM or Business Process management is the use of software to automate repeatable multistep business transactions. In contrast to other automotive types, the solutions here are often complex, connected to multiple enterprise IT systems and are tailored specifically to the individual needs of a business.

RPA is a software technology that makes it easy to build, deploy, and manage software robots that emulate human actions interacting with digital software and systems.

Process automation

On the other hand, process automation manages business processes for both uniformity and transparency. This is usually handled by dedicated software and business applications. Using this type of automation can increase overall productivity within your business. It can also deliver new insights into your businesses challenges and suggest solutions. Process mining and workflow automation are both examples of process automation.

Process mining is a technique that is used to track and analyze processes. It uses existing data that is available in corporate information systems and displays, automatically, the real process.

Workflow automation is a reference to the design, execution, and automation of processes based on workflow rules, wherein human tasks, data, files and so on are routes between people or systems on a pre-defined basis or business rules. An example of this would be the Gmail feature where if someone emails you, that email can then be repurposed into a task inside ‘Basecamp’ automatically, creating a task or to-do list.

These features simply make life easier and more manageable, letting us focus on the creative aspects of our industries, while the automotive systems manage the bulk of process management and help to manage workflow- as these two examples show.

Integration automation

Then we have integration automation. This is a type of automation where machines can mimic human tasks and repeat the actions once humans define the machine’s rules. An example of this would be a digital worker. In more recent years, people have come to define digital workers as software robots which are trained to work with humans in order to perform specific tasks. They will have a specific set of skills, and they can even be ‘hired’ to work on teams.

Digital workers are basically just integrated team members trained to carry out a business process, much like a human employee, only they do it faster and without any mistakes. All teams will have digital workers alongside their human workers in the future, it is believed.

A great example of a digital worker would be Chatbots, which can improve the customer experience. Many websites and apps will have these to assist in customer service queries. You might experience these on shopping sites, such as Amazon, for example. Other apps will have these also, many will have a Chatbot as a digital worker, and then if the issue is beyond their ability, it will usually be forwarded to a human worker. These systems help to prevent long waiting times for resolving issues in customer service.

Artificial intelligence automation

Finally, we have AI. The most complex level of automation is artificial intelligence. The addition of artificial intelligence means that these machines are capable of learning and making decisions based on past situations that they have encountered and analyzed. For example, in the customer service industry, virtual assistants are powers to reduce costs while empowering both customers and human agents, this can in turn create an optimal customer service experience.

Another example of AI technology would be the Amazon Alexa, or Google Nest, devices we have in our homes. These devices learn as we use them, they will understand our voices so that they can listen to commands. They are capable of recommending music based on previous plays, and can learn our household habits so that systems they can control are automated. I.e. lights being turned on and so on.

Then you have more extreme examples such as the newest Mars Rover which has an artificial intelligence system on board.

How is Industry Evolving Through Automation?

How Is Industry Evolving Through Automation

It is not hard to see that the world we live in is being altered by a technology driven existence. It is filled with promise, but also with changes and challenges. Cars that can drive themselves, machines that read X-rays, and computer algorithms that respond to customer-service inquiries are all afoot. So, what does this mean for the industry and our society as a whole?

Automation reduces the need for people to handle rote tasks

Automotive technology changes the way in which we work, and it could very certainly eliminate some jobs, or the need for humans in entire fields in the fast approaching future. Some industries will be impacted more than others. For it is clear that more logical/minimalist industries may be taken over by technology, whereas creative industries will have less interference. However, automation reduces the need for people to handle rote tasks. And it increases the need for individuals with critical thinking skills and creative, problem-solving skills.

While it is possible to view this a  positive aspect of automation, it is definitely viewable as negative. The risks of this are that workers would be potentially slaves to automated machines. Of course, it is also possible that human privacy would be invaded by vast computer networks, and that human error in the management of this technology could endanger civilization. Also, humanity could very well become dependent on this automated technology economically. Yet, let’s not jump the gun yet, these are speculations, and it is highly unlikely that things this drastic will occur. However, the biggest risk is in the employment sector, and how particular jobs could become human-free zones. 

Increases the need for employees who are critically thinking and creative

While there will be many industries that will require little to no human involvement, there will be an increased need for creatives and critical thinkers. Especially those who are trained in automated technologies. Problem solvers and critical thinkers with experience in these technologies will be a greater requirement.

There will also be industries in which these technologies will not work, such as communication based, and creative industries. Areas of retail which require human communication and innovation will require more people, and thus more job opportunities will be opened up for people like so.

While we are inclined to be concerned that the growth of automation would mean a decline in jobs for people, this is untrue, jobs will be open to those who can work with, manage and innovate in this area of technology. However, jobs such as teachers, creatives i.e. arts and media, areas of marketing, and so on, will still be predominantly human run industries.

This is simply based on the fact that technology, no matter how artificially intelligent or well programmed, has limits, creativity, and management are human traits that these technologies are not capable of, certainly not yet.

Around half the jobs in the USA are expected to be automated in the future

It is believed that around 50% of current work activities are technically automatable by adapting currently demonstrated technologies. In fact every 6 out of 10 current occupations have more than 30% of activities which are technically automatable.

Of course, how feasible automation is to a job is important, but it is not the only factor worth considering. Other factors that must be considered include the development and deploying automation solutions for specific uses, in specific workplaces. The benefits beyond labor substitution and regulatory and social acceptance.

Four of the areas in which are considered to be ‘safest’ from automation, or otherwise in higher demand are managers and executives, teachers, technology professionals, and creatives i.e. artists, designers, entertainers, and media workers. The areas which are most at risk of becoming automated include predictable and unpredictable physical workers, customer interaction roles, and office support. 

Industries Evolving Due To Automation

So, we know you are wondering which industries are seeing the biggest evolution from automated technology?

As it continues to rise, there are many jobs that will require different skills, and in some cases higher educational requirements. However, by 2030, it is anticipated that between 75 million and 365 million people may need to gain new skills as a part of their search for alternative employment.

So which of these industries are most at risk for seeing people need to re-skill as their jobs become more automated?

Industries Evolving Due To Automation

Retail and Trade

Retail and trade is at the top of the list. It is reported that around 50% of jobs related to retail and trade in the United States are likely to become automated. This type of automation is already seen in Amazon stores, where grocery carts can track what you have taken off the shelves, so that you can purchase your products without having to interact with a cashier. There is also automation in delivery systems, where robots will go from door to door to deliver food.

The global retail automation market is anticipated to exceed $19.45 billion by 2023. Retail automation will cut costs and improve quality. This will also completely decrease the potential for human error.

While the thought of automation taking over 50% of retail and trade can be a bit daunting, this does not mean that there will be no humans working in stores anymore. What it means is that there will be more automated features in our retail and trade experience that minimize the chance for errors, and improve the quality of our shopping experiences. There is also a chance that this will have a great impact on the overall economy, since the automation in retail is expected to cut costs.

Transportation

Another area that will likely see a great deal of automated technology is transportation. It is believed that around 57% of transportation jobs will be very likely to become automated in the coming years in the U.S.A. Autonomous vehicles are now becoming the driving force (pun intended) in the transportation industry, as well as the manufacturing of vehicles, making for quicker assembly times.

With the self-driving mode that was introduced by Tesla, drivers can nap at the wheel while still getting to their destination, and no one can really say anything against the fantastic environmentally friendly factors of this car as well.

Other companies, like Toyota and Honda, are also implementing self-parking automation for those who are still struggling with parallel parking. (Thank god!)  Yet, this vehicle automation feature does pose a threat to truck drivers, as their jobs may indeed become obsolete as we develop and expand on vehicle automation.

While it will be useful in times when it is harder to find enough people to drive all the trucks and HGV’s that are required in some countries, this job could become obsolete in its entirety. Thus forcing some people to re-skill and find other industries and jobs.

Agriculture

Although you might not think it, Agriculture is another area that may actually end up becoming more automated. As the population of our world grows, the demand for high volumes of food increases. Due to this, around 6 out of 10 jobs in the agriculture industry are actually automated in the United States. Agricultural automation occurs everywhere, from planting and monitoring, from maintenance and harvesting.

There are machines that even detect weeds and disease in plants. Around 100 years ago, farms were run entirely by families, with no fewer than 10 farmers working at any one time. Now, an entire 100-acre farm can be run by just one person and their team of smart machines.

While people may argue that this leaves a mass of the population unemployed as there are plenty of people who could do these jobs, the demand at which food is needed and the speed at which this must be done would not be possible to achieve by just people anymore. Automotive machines allow for supply to keep up with the demand of a constantly growing population.

Smart technology can also be beneficial to the land as well, as some of these smart machines can help to preserve certain biological factors in the land that we may not think of while we are busy toiling away. With technology getting smarter, it is possible to not only keep up with demand, but do it in a sustainable way.

Manufacturing

Similarly, there is manufacturing. It is estimated that around 60% of the jobs in the United States around manufacturing will likely be performed by machines in the near future. AN entire factory can be run by just a couple of people, with the remainder of the operation being performed by automated machinery and robots. The benefits of having automation in the manufacturing industry include the mechanical precision that we just can’t match, as well as the consistency, greater safety and a decrease in operating expenses.

While humans can work very well in the manufacturing industry, there is much health and safety to be considered with people working in these environments, however, when you are using automated machinery and technology, this is not as much of a requirement, and costs are saved there already.

Despite the manufacturing industry being one of the most highly automated industries in the world, there is still a significant amount of potential for automation in manufacturing sites. This includes in relation to functional areas such as the supply chain and procurement as well.

Accommodation

Over 70% of jobs in the accommodation sector will likely be automated in America. This automation is to be seen in hotels where guests can check in by mobile phone, this may be something you see already, however, it is likely that at the moment even if you do check in via your mobile, there will be someone on the front desk for older people who are technologically inept. However, with some automated check in, you can check in via your mobile app, and it will then provide you with a room key.

Hotels are also starting to experiment with voice assistants to bypass concierge workers and put guests in touch with their required services.

This means that in the near future, you may be able to get a hotel experience where you rarely interact with any of the staff. This is somewhat an introverted dream, and it will certainly revolutionize the hotel experience for many.

Of course, there are downsides to this, and some hotels may stick to the traditional approach, yet it is certain that within some decades we may see all hotels like this.

This could also be a possibility with things such as Airbnb’s and hostels too.

Food Services

Finally, food services. We are already seeing this happen at quite a large scale. Go into a restaurant and order by the app instead of a waiter. Go to McDonald’s and order via a touchscreen.

Many fast food restaurants are opting for touch screen ordering, while they do still offer traditional, at the counter orders, many have this feature. It is no surprise either, it does not just cut down on long queues, but it also makes it easier for customers, the menu is right there for you, and you can see everything on offer. It saves time and is much easier.

In restaurants, using an app to order food to your table is also very popular. In fact, it has to be said that since the Covid-19 pandemic, more restaurants do seem to be using this, it is easier on the staff, easier for the customers, and prevents any unnecessary close contact.

The food service industry is not unlike the accommodation industry, and it will likely see around 70% of jobs become automated in the future.

The Future of Automation

The Business Blocks

It is very clear that the future of our working lives will be very different from what they are today. Ai’s, automation, and advanced engineering systems promise improvements in safety, simplification of routine tasks, and higher productivity levels across boundless organizations.

While it might seem as though technology is moving faster than we can keep up with, there is hardly anything new about the applications of automation and the robotics technologies we are seeing come into being. It has long been present in the workplace, handling the mundane and routine tasks we simply hate doing.

So, what does this say for our future?

Automation is expected to increase by $26 billion dollars by 2028

AI technology and automation go hand in hand as they increase in the work environment. Realistically only 5% of jobs are actually fully automatable, humans will always play a critical role in the workplace. AI can actually help to find humans for the jobs that are needed in the space of AI and automation.

For those that operate in this space, things look good, with endless opportunities. The actual demand for workflow automation processes is expected to spike all the way to $26 billion just by 2025, which is up from a measly $5 billion back in 2018. With more than 25% of companies using automation in their hiring process, and by 2022, around 70% of customer service interactions are leveraging some sort of AI automation technology.

Summary

The Business Blocks

We often get a bit anxious when we think about how technologically advanced our future may be. We worry that technology and automation will take away so many jobs from people that there will be high unemployment rates across the world.

This is not the case, automation will take part in a vast majority of roles, however, for the most part, automation will not take jobs from people, and where there is automation there will always be a requirement for someone to manage it.

There are some jobs more at risk from becoming more automated than others, but they will not become completely automated.

The thing is, we are so worried about the effect it may have on the future, we cannot see how much we are already living in the future now. We use our mobile phone for everything, shopping carts can track what we put in them, and we do not even need to encounter a cashier. We have AI’s in our homes who can remind us to pick the kids up from school, and some of our cars can park themselves.

The way automotive technology affects the industry is simply that it makes it easier, safer, less cost heavy, and better to manage.

John Elder

Director of Operations - The Business Blocks

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