Manual labor doesn’t really exist anymore.
These activities have been replaced by robots and machines. Most of the workers are now system operators, necessary to control and monitor the automated production processes.
As it was explained to me, there were three reasons for this change:
- Increasing competition from low labor cost countries.
- Automation of manual labor.
- The products that were manufactured at the plant/factory were “disrupted” by new innovative products.
Automation was necessary to stay ahead of the competition. Machines are simply able to do the work better, faster and more efficiently. It also enabled the company to focus on innovative applications of the “older technologies”.
It was basically a “choice” between automation or oblivion.
And What About “Knowledge Workers”?
Discussing this experience with other colleagues on the visit, their first reaction was a little surprising: “Automation is limited to ‘blue collar’ jobs in specific sectors”.When pushed, everybody seemed to accept that “knowledge work”, such as the finance, legal and marketing industries, will also be affected by automation. But, this will mainly be limited to the application of automated tools for very specific tasks.