Despite Albert Einstein’s fears that technology would create a “generation of idiots”, automation has improved quality of life for most people and created a wealth of new and more skilled industrial positions.
Here Jonathan Wilkins, of obsolete industrial parts supplier, EU Automation discusses the new job roles that automation is bringing to engineering and manufacturing.
Since 2008 in the UK alone, 800,000 jobs have reportedly been lost to automation since 2001, largely within the administrative, retail and low-skilled manufacturing sectors. Despite these losses, automaton has created 3.5 million jobs in the same time-period, allowing many workers to move into higher skilled positions.
As new technologies are used, job roles and skill sets evolve. Considering this, which job roles can we expect to emerge in the coming years?
Chief cybercrime officer
Sage, Three Mobile and Seagate were among the most well-documented cyber breaches in 2016. These incidents, along with hundreds more, prompted UK Parliament to recommend that companies appoint an officer responsible for protecting online systems from attack.
Necessary technologies such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) can increase the chance of a cyber-attack, resulting in plant downtime.
Within manufacturing, it’s not just IT systems that are at risk of a cyberbreach. Industry 4.0 has resulted in increased connectivity between plant systems, meaning every piece of machinery connects to a central IT system.
Industrial software engineer
More than a third (35%) of engineering job listings across industries now require applicants familiar with 3D printing and additive manufacturing processes.
Software developers are in high demand, due to the increase in 3D printing technologies. There is not yet a standard user interface for 3D printing devices, meaning that adoption of the technology is currently limited to those with a technical background.
Manufacturers rely on in-house software developers to create a suitable interface. The job role is the perfect example of what happens when a skilled person embraces the coalescence of engineering and IT.
In the manufacturing, automotive and aerospace sectors, we can expect to see a greater reliance on the role of the obsolescence manager, tasked with monitoring product obsolescence and the state of automated systems. This involves regular audits, analysing the components of critical systems and using predictive analytics to estimate the likelihood of equipment breakdown.
Effective obsolescence management is a full-time job, especially in the world of Industry 4.0 and smart factories, where obsolescence cycles are becoming shorter and new technology is being adopted quickly.
Another of Einstein’s famous quotes is, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Thanks to industrial automation, the manufacturing industry is growing and thriving. As with everything new, automation brings fresh challenges for companies.
However, not accepting the need for change will be detrimental, while embracing industrial automation will allow businesses to flourish.