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If factories are getting smarter are we getting dumber?


When I started my first job in industry there was a sign that hung over the production floor that stated ‘
Work Smarter, Not Harder
’.
This of course was intended as ‘friendly’ advice from management to the people operating the machines that it was their brain power that would improve overall productivity not their muscle.

work smarter.JPG

Certainly some did operate ‘smarter’ but not maybe as their managers intended. Machines could mysteriously develop faults during the normal shift only to quickly resolve themselves when overtime was in the offing.
Back then, whilst machines may have been automated they really only talked to themselves and it was up to the experienced operator to ‘understand’ what they were saying. A ‘good’ operator could get both throughput and quality from their machine while still seeming not to be working hard at all.

Three decades later!

Roll forward three decades and management seem to have given up on getting the operators to work smarter.
Now it’s the production equipment that has the intelligence in today's ‘Smart factory’ and the operator is less ‘in tune’ with their machine.

Today's machines talk to other machines and more importantly can talk to anyone anywhere who needs to listen. Remote monitoring, remote diagnostics remove the machine operator as ‘interpreter’ for the maintenance personnel.

Today’s factories are indeed smarter but the people running the machines have lost some skills. Does this make them less smart or have they simply adopted new skills to work alongside their intelligent machines!

What do you think?


On today's production floor who is smarter?
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The machine
2
The operator
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