Whenever we think about engineering we always think of large industry. Over the years engineering has become more and more automated and has got rid of some of the handmade tasks that could not be done by machine. The impact of automation has been quite dramatic as time has gone on as we have seen many firms now go towards automation leaving the workforce struggling to keep their jobs. Automation for a large engineering firm is something that saves money and often speeds up a task that was done by a human in the past. In some cases, automation is important as it has enabled companies to remove their staff from potentially dangerous jobs and move them to a safer environment i.e. machine operation so that engineering firms in general can improve their safety. There are many positives and negatives to automation and robotics, so below we shall take a look at some of the positive impacts and some of the negative impacts of this modern development.
Positives of Automation and Robotics
Automation and robotics have had a massive impact on engineering. Take for example a car manufacturing organisation. Companies used to have individuals panel beating bodies when it comes to the assembly of a vehicle body and the electrical components would have to be fitted to a vehicle by a vehicle technician. Very little automation used to take place.
Now in this modern era, the majority of a car can be built by a robot, but it is controlled by other computers so that the car can be built quickly and efficiently without any risk to human life. Humans are obviously still involved with the final checking process to make sure that all the parts have been assembled correctly and that no damage has been caused along the way, but ultimately the majority of most modern vehicles these days can be built by robots.
The same can be said for most of the electrical products that we use, whether that’s a television, a video game or a smart phone. All of these products will have some form of robots involved in the design and build process. This is not to say that human intervention has completely gone, however it has to be said the most engineering firms have been streamlined to the extent that they are now in some cases fully automated.
It’s not just robotics and automation that have made a difference in engineering, it is also the development of certain tools and equipment that are widely used in this field. Take for example turnbuckles, they have multiple uses across the engineering field and when they are produced they can be used for many different purposes. For example, they can be used for lifting and rigging. Additionally, they can also be seen in use in sporting equipment, aircraft, shipping and in the construction industry. Therefore, the use of a turnbuckle is plentiful.
Negativity Surrounding Automation and Robotics
Although it may seem difficult to believe that automation and robotics could have any negativity when you consider the fact that they streamline work and save money, they do however impact the job market. In the past, skilled labour was something that the masses could be trained in and employed within the manufacturing industry. Now however, as we see a rise in automation, many of these jobs no longer exist. One of the biggest factors to take into consideration is that somebody may have been in a job for over 20 years for example and now find that they have been replaced by a robot, which leaves them in a position of having to retrain to fulfil another role.
Another point to consider is that the general public often prefer to have human interaction. In some industries this has been replaced with machinery or automated recordings to again save costs for the business. Although no one can argue that automation is a positive step forward, these negatives are very difficult to overcome. Out reliance on technology can be seen in the new generation. Although communication has got better, we are now in a world where we no longer seem to verbally communicate as communication tends to take place virtually i.e. through smart phones and social media. Although this may be great for business, it’s not a good move for social interaction. Many companies are now limiting social media access in the hope that it reduces time that employees spend on social media and smartphones.
We have seen a massive increase in the development of self-driving vehicles and Tesla have been the leaders for this. As the technology continues to advance, the use is becoming more prevalent. There are both positives and negatives to this, but this technology is being continued to be developed and is now proving to be environmentally friendly. As concerns for our planet grow, the need for fuel efficiency increases. This is where a fully automated vehicle outperforms a human, giving this technology a further boost. Additionally, this type of technology can create jobs which counteracts the loss of jobs that we mentioned above. For example, there will be an increase in jobs such as vehicle production for parts that cannot be automated and jobs created to help produce the raw materials that are needed to build the vehicles in the first place.
We have highlighted the importance that we place on automation and robotics. The use and development of this technology will continue to increase, making the developments more common across all industries. Although there are negatives to automation and robotics, in general there seem to be more positives and this is a clear reason as to why we can continue to see a surge in the type of technology.