You may already have heard about it, in the XVIII century Europe made its industrial revolution, but today the entire world is attending to its own numerical revolution, which is is not without consequence for the labour market. Assembly line work is disappearing little by little to make make room for forthcoming production lines that are meant to replace men in the production process.
Machines that replace men
Indeed the systematic automatisation of production processes has become normal as industrial machines become more and more flexible and effective, especially since the CNC (computer numerical command) was introduced on the machinery market. CNC was meant to lead machines by computer, the direct consequence of this new process being always more job cuts of the employees in charge of the machine’s actuation and supervisory. A study carried by Oxford University researchers has shown that within one or two decades about 47% of the actual business activities were meant to disappear.
As a result, factories are today aiming to hire engineers and highly qualified technicians who are needed to program and adapt the machines to the new industrial market’s expectations, as to say process quickly, efficiently and most of all reduce the margin of defective products. However, the phenomenon does not only point out the machines’ automation as the ultimate goal of today’s industry is to set up fully automated factories. Following the launch of the industry 4.0 and the boom of the electronic sector, full factories are now processing autonomously with the the support of communication systems allowing the synchronisation of all equipment.
The energy issues
On another hand, if men can be replaced by machines, the number of machines actually processing is about to multiply and spread all around the world in almost every type of production’s process. Thereby the energy consumption should grow exponentially and rehash the environmental debates.
The production’s maximisation is indeed bringing to light the question of environmental issues that the world is already facing and should imply the set up of new systems using renewable energies. More than an environmental concern, the production costs may also become a problem as the electricity prices had never been that high, which may affect the firms’ competitiveness. Therefore, researchers are already looking for new energy sources in order to supply machines such the famous 3D printer which belongs to the greatest technological advances of the past five years. For now the machines is fed with plastic derived from crude oil, which does not fit into the scheme of environmental priorities. For instance, to replace the use of plastic, new biodegradable materials based on cereals, algaes and waste were cited.
To sum up, the set up of new automated systems in the industry should not only have human consequences but also environmental ones, which could on a long term basis deeply transform the industry but also the service sector.