Summary: “Humans will increasingly be used in factories mainly to train robots and AI (artificial intelligence). Robots are being developed that can observe what humans do and learn from it, replicating simple movements and patterns.”
Original author and publication date: John Preston – July 27, 2021
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: The only way to solve the problems of the future is to build a future, not to extend the present
From the article:
“This government is obsessed with skilling up our population,” said Boris Johnson in his recent speech on “levelling up”. There is still a fair amount of uncertainty about exactly what the UK prime minister’s plan to level up the regions will involve, but manufacturing and skills seem close to the heart of it.
The government is trying to achieve a renaissance in vocational education with its industry-focused T-level courses for students, “Skills Bootcamp” retraining programmes for adults, and increased funding for further education in general. Together with the recent announcement of a new Nissan “mega-factory” in Sunderland, some might argue that the UK is finally becoming a high-skill vocational manufacturing economy to rival Germany and Japan.
Unfortunately, the world is moving on.
In the factories of the future, the role of skills will be dramatically different. We are in the early stages of what is known as industry 4.0: digital manufacturing that attempts to automate and regulate every aspect of production, including the human. There is little sign that the UK government is thinking about this, or what it means for the youngsters looking to work in manufacturing in future.
How factories are going digital
In a three-year study, I found that learning in factories is fundamentally shifting from human workers to machines. In high-tech manufacturing, machines are being connected to one another in what is often referred to as the internet of things – using sensors to gather information and send signals back to the production process. In the study, we refer to factories and even products becoming “chatty” through all this communication of information, and predict that this will lead to profound changes in manufacturing by 2030.
Airbus is a good example. It has considerably improved the efficiency of the assembly lines for aircraft and helicopters by gathering information and continually feeding it back. Along with other aircraft manufacturers it also carries this approach into the product, using data from aircraft in the field to find ways to improve the next generation.
Increasingly, such systems will optimise themselves using machine learning with a view to maximising sales and profits. In a break from the age-old system of human manufacturers deciding what to produce in response to what consumers want, machines are starting to play a role in these decisions, taking on a life of their own.