Automation and Robotics: The Future of Business

March 5, 2015

At January 2015’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we saw (and discussed in a recent blog) that one indisputable technology trend is the Internet of Things. Another take away from the show’s displays is the integration of automation and robotics with our everyday lives.

BMW showcased their Remote Valet Parking Assistant, a car that valet parks itself and returns for you when you call for it using your Android Wear app. Humanoid robots—like the one modeled by Toshiba—reminded us that working alongside Data from Star Trek TNG is not so far in our future. WeMo showed off new home-automation technology that prepares your home’s environmental settings as soon as your key fob is detected nearby. Imagine opening your door to a perfectly heated or cooled home and a cup of freshly brewed coffee. It’s reality, and it’s not just for your home.

Automation and robotics are flexing their muscles in business as well. Remember Watson, IBM’s AI computer that won “Jeopardy!” in 2011? Watson’s new gig involves researching cures for cancer. While sorting through and cataloguing data from all the existing research papers and clinical trials could take a team of people years, Watson can read the text and sort it in a matter of weeks.

Meanwhile, Amazon has been in the news for a different kind of idea for using automation: delivery drones. While they aren’t bringing your Amazon Prime order yet, it won’t be long. Drones are also being used more frequently in jobs that require extensive aerial coverage, such as agriculture and oil and gas industries.

Concerns about automation and robotics

What’s changed? Automation is tackling not just blue-collar but also white-collar tasks such as analysis and research. That causes concern for many.

A leading research firm, Gartner, predicts one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025, according to Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard. Another study suggests “botsourcing” could be responsible for replacing almost half of U.S. jobs in the next decade. And Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Stephen Hawking—big-name techies—all have concerns about AI progressing too quickly. With these men calling for a pause, it’s worth listening.

While there are legitimate concerns about automation replacing human jobs, it’s not all doom and gloom. Progress and responsibility have always gone hand in hand, and keeping our educational system on par with technological advancements is key.

Automation is our future

With labor costs rising and automation becoming more accessible, companies are going to choose automation whenever they can. It’s a long-term investment. In response, we must grow and educate both current students and employees in working with these evolving technologies. STEM degrees, especially engineering, are important steps in the right direction, as well as work and school environments that encourage and reward innovation.

According to one survey by The Boston Consulting Group, 72 percent [of senior manufacturing executives at companies with sales of $1 billion or more] indicated that their companies plan to invest in automation or other advanced manufacturing technologies in the next five years. That, according to BCG’s estimates, means robots will be doing about one-fourth of manufacturing work by 2025.

Any company who wishes to remain competitive will be forced to follow suit, investing in automation and those who can understand and work with these robots.

Sealevel and automation

We know the importance of both human and robotic workers. We also understand the concerns many have about job security and ethics. We’re committed to helping to advance technology while investing in STEM education to prepare the workforce to evolve along with automation.

We offer products that excel in applications like automation and robotics. Our small, rugged Relio computers are ideal for embedded applications, offering huge amounts of power and, with no moving parts, ultimate reliability. The Relio R2 is configurable with specifications like CPU speed, memory, WiFi integration, OS integration, and solid-state drive integration.

Contact us to find out more about how Sealevel can help you create industrial or commercial computers to suit any application.