Automation is the talk of the global town. It is everywhere, from service company to manufacturing automation sound bites is getting louder by day. Automation is the future and it could not be stop, some say. As more and more people using technology to ease day to day life, businesses need to look at technology to achieve efficiency and increase productivity by streamlining work processes, others may say. When automation fully swipe the globe, robots would replace human in all type of industries, every research on this topic says.
In its 2017 research, the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that by 2030, as many as 800 million jobs could be lost worldwide to automation. The report also suggests that the advances of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will have a drastic effect on everyday working lives, comparable to the shift away from agricultural societies during the Industrial Revolution.
What is more, in 2017 the International Labour Organization claims that the robot age is already a reality in ASEAN countries. More than 60 per cent of enterprises surveyed in the region see new technologies as a positive for increasing sales, labour productivity and employment of highly skilled workers. The report warns that while mass scale job displacement is not imminent, the technology to replace mainly lower skilled jobs in ASEAN will increasingly be adopted as its cost declines and innovations become accessible to even small-sized enterprises. The report also estimates that about 56 per cent of all salaried employment in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, is at high risk of displacement due to technology in the next 20 years.
So, what is automation mean to general Indonesian workforce whom mostly low skilled and low education? Are they going to lose our minimum wage jobs over automation anytime soon? For them, the answer could be not anytime soon, but.
What and Why is Job Automation
In essence, automation involves the eradication of any type of exhausting manual labour through the use of technology that ensures accuracy, speed and quality. Although absolute automation in workplace has never been achieved, in its limited form, automation has caused modifications in the pattern of employment.
The term automation was created in the 1940s at the Ford Motor Company. The word automation was applied to the automatic handling of parts in metalworking processes. The concept acquired broader meaning with the development of cybernetics by American mathematician Nobert Wiener in 1950’s. Through cybernetics, Wiener anticipated the application of computers to manufacturing situations. He erroneously caused distress in industry in 1950-1960’s by suggesting that automatic machinery would lead to mass unemployment. However, automation was in fact not introduced as widespread as foreseen. Adding to that, other economic factors have created new opportunities in the labour market.
Automatic controls revolutionized all aspects of the production process. It streamlines processes with emphasize on mass production of identical parts for mass markets. In industry, automation evolved from three interrelated trends in technology:
- the development of powered machinery for production operations,
- the introduction of powered equipment to move materials and work pieces during manufacturing process, and
- the perfecting of control system to regulate production, handling, and distribution.
Further developments in automation created two new fields: computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), often linked as co-disciplines under the title CAD/CAM.
Every study on automation show that automation gives flexibility to production and also can cut down costly lead times confronted when changing from one production model to another. Moreover, automation can control inventories to provide a continuous flow of materials without expensive storage requirements or investment in spare parts. In the human side, automation could reduce time devoted for tedious and repetitive work, allow more creativity, and in the long run increase productivity.
In a broader perspective, studies suggest automation will expand economy, even though the job we have right now will be different then as consequences of automation and technology.