When many people hear the word “automation”, their first thoughts usually lead them to envision a parent who is out of a job and no longer able to put food on the table for their children. What is short-sighted in this is that automation, when implemented properly, can actually improve employee outcomes by assisting employees in areas where strains and injuries can occur.
Automation in the form of fully-automated (no human operator present) or semi-automated (human operator’s work is augmented with automated processes/robotics) is the best available option when one or more of the following statements are true:
Commandment 1: Automation will make this process more efficient, as well as cost-efficient, as compared to human-centered design/operation.
In areas where there are worker shortages and/or production needs exceed human capabilities to meet demand, automation is recommended to reduce the potential for overuse, cumulative trauma, and fatigue injuries for humans, as well as to meet production needs. Companies like Hirebotics lease robots to assist with automating or augmenting work processes for as little as $15 per hour, which includes no upfront costs for programming, implementation, and maintenance.
Commandment 2: Automation will provide fewer errors, as compared to human-centered design/operation.
For processes which require operations/tasks to be performed exactly the same and with minimal error tolerances, automation is preferred in order to reduce the cognitive and physical strain they would place on human operators.
Commandment 3: Automation will reduce the likelihood of injury to the worker/operator.
In addition to the descriptions discussed in the first two examples, processes being performed in environments that are too extreme for workers should be automated. For example, extreme heat/cold and altitudes place undue stress on humans—contributing to increased potential, number, and severity of injuries.
Automating processes is not a new thing. Just as the invention and implementation of tractors in the early 19th century did not put farmers out of work (it actually made farmers more productive and profitable and allowed consumers to enjoy lower prices for produce), automation can actually assist/augment workers and minimize their exposure to dangerous working conditions.