Finish your week with the Finishpass weekly roundup. Each week, we select a handful of great reads covering advanced manufacturing and the people that make it possible.
On a basic level, auto bots today aren’t much different from the first AGVs that rolled onto factory floors in the 1950s. They still have 4 wheels and are low to the ground, they still carry heavy and awkward things around so that humans don’t have to. However, now, they are literally getting smarter by the second. Their sensors are constantly collecting more data which is used to optimize routes, track materials, and make the bots more useful. More on the death of the forklift in this piece from MH&L.
Reports of Machining’s Death an Exaggeration (Industry Week)
The forklift might be dying, but CNC Machining is alive and well. The rise of additive manufacturing, AKA 3D printing, has encouraged a rumor that CNC machining is going the way of the dinosaurs. Industry Week dispels that rumor and provides a lot of insight into the positive state of the CNC Machining industry today (hint: the two can work together). Our favorite quote from the article: “People, Not 3D Printers, the Most Valuable Assets at On-Demand Manufacturer.”
People are scared that Automation and specifically AI has the capacity to eliminate large numbers of jobs and leave Americans unemployed. This fear isn’t new and it seems to have a resurgence every few years. However, the truth is that there is no way to predict how many jobs automation will replace; we can’t know what we don’t know and the data only measures what we know. Recode outlines how automation can create new jobs, change the nature of work, how of course it can replace some jobs, and it also reminds us that just because a technology exists doesn’t mean it’s going to be used.
What We Often Get Wrong About Automation (Harvard Business Review)
Automation will probably replace some jobs, but the number of jobs remains a mystery (see above). However, optimists point out that machines may “take” easy, repetitive jobs and free human workers to do more rewarding, creative work. Reinvented, more rewarding jobs can encourage increased profitability payoff, better workforce retention, and more workforce diversity. Harvard Business Review analyzes the way that innovation and optimizing human talent at Willis Towers Watson resulted in an applicant and worker pool that included more women and more diverse family situations.
Ford is Having a Bad Year (Fortune)
A report from Morgan Stanley reported that Ford’s announced job cuts may result in a “a global headcount reduction of approximately 12 percent.” Their stock is down 28% due in large part to trade tariffs which have reportedly already cost the company $1 billion in profit. Ford’s CEO, Jim Hackett, is engineering a $25.5 billion restructuring while trying to keep up in a world filled with new technologies including self-driving cars. Ford is the the No. 2 U.S. automaker by sales so we’re paying attention.