Automation, or the use of robots and other artificial intelligence to perform tasks, has increased dramatically over the past couple decades. And while a Skynet scenario in the near future is unlikely, we are undoubtedly on the brink of an automation revolution.
John Stroup, President & CEO of Belden Inc., recently paid a visit to The Boeing Center to discuss some of the economic drivers for a revolution in automation. He believes that the United States is well-positioned for increased automation in manufacturing due to recent technological advances. In fact, the majority of manufacturing jobs lost in the last 10-15 years are a result of increased automation, not offshoring (as is commonly thought).
One of the economic factors Stroup credits for the automation revolution is the rise in minimum wages. As labor costs increase, companies look for ways to decrease spending, often turning to machines to replace their human counterparts. But despite the downward trend in manufacturing jobs, there has been a massive uptick in productivity due to robotics and other technology. He predicts that by 2025, the global average of tasks performed by robots will be around 25%, more than double what it is today. Stroup then went on to describe his experience at a “lights-out factory,” or a factory that doesn’t turn on the lights because it utilizes only robots and artificial intelligence.
Stroup went on to mention that Europe is often ahead of the curve in terms of automation due to relatively expensive labor. Regardless of one’s opinions about automation, we are likely to see its increased adoption as global labor costs rise and the cost of implementing AI falls.
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