Automation is Not Always the Answer

Automation is Not Always the Answer

February 11, 2019

With the maturing of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, there has been a push to automate a variety of processes.  Automation can improve performance and reduce costs, but not all processes will be or should be automated.

Here are a few of the current limitations in automation:

  • Most robots are limited to menial tasks.
  • Climbing stairs or maneuvering in rough surfaces is still difficult.
  • Processes that require decision-making continue to pose challenges.
  • Putting a personal touch on automated services is difficult.
  • Many automated processes are not cost efficient.

This post is based on the Supply Chain Dive article, Not everything in the supply chain should be automated, by Craig Guillot January 22, 2019. Image source: Montgomery Martin / Alamy Stock Photo.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why shouldn’t come processes be automated?

Guidance: Reasons for not automating processes range from cost to technical limitations to processes that need human intervention.  Processes that require a personal touch (the soft skills) may never be automated.  In many cases customers want to interact with a person.  Also, some processes need the ability to understand what the customer wants.  Such processes are difficult, if not impossible, Continue reading

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GM: Tough Maneuvering in a Fast-Moving Market

GM: Tough Maneuvering in a Fast-Moving Market

GM’s announcement to close five plants has sparked a lot of criticism. How can a company bolstered by a taxpayer-funded bailout and generous tax cuts lay off 14,000 people? Is it betrayal or foresight?

CEO Mary T. Barra has justified the job cuts, citing slowing sales and changing markets. GM’s actions are easy to criticize, but compassionate solutions are difficult to come by.


Video Spotlight: GM’s planned layoffs


This post is based on the New York Times article, GM to Idle Plants and Cut Thousands of Jobs as Sales Slow, by N.E. Boudette, November 26, 2018; and the Time.com video on GM’s planned layoffs, by A. Abrams, November 29, 2018. Image source: Glow Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. Identify the specific elements in a SWOT analysis that may have triggered Ms. Barra’s decision to close several plants.

Guidance:

Threats

  • economy (higher interest rates, tariffs)
  • legal environment (push for higher minimum wages gaining momentum in several states)
  • competition (competitors’ investments in self-driving and electric cars)
  • markets (shifts in vehicle sales)

Opportunities

  • economy (low unemployment rates potentially easing employees’ reintegration into the workforce; financial boost with new of capital)
  • new technologies to facilitate the development of self-driving and electric cars Continue reading
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Robot Burgers in San Francisco

Robot Burgers in San Francisco

September 14, 2018

Try the new $6 burger. It’s made by a robot in the new Creator restaurant in San Francisco.

The robot uses over 350 sensors and 20 computers to make the customizable burger.  The restaurant is only open part-time at the moment, but plans to open full-time in September.  All of the ingredients are locally sourced.

Currently, four kinds of hamburgers are being made by the robot.  But in the future, customers will be able to control how much sauce and seasonings will be added by the robot.  Inherently, all of the sides are made by humans, and the ordering process is manual as well.


Video Spotlight: Robots Are Making Burgers in San Francisco


This post is based on the NPR article, Fad or the Future? Robot-Made Burgers Wow the Crowds in San Francisco, by Anna Mantzaris, August 24, 2018; and the YouTube video, World’s First Entirely Robotic Restaurant | Robots are Making Burgers in San Francisco, by Prep4School, June 23, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock / Palto.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why use a robot for making a hamburger?

Guidance: At the moment, the appeal is the novelty of the robot.  But, one Continue reading

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