Now this ought to make you sit up and take notice of the future job marketplace. Would it attract your attention if I just said, “God help us!”?
Germany, always trying to be ever-more competitive in the labor marketplace in the face of super-cheap labor from third world countries, and the super-cheap energy of the USA that is drawing company manufacturing back to the USA, has leap frogged every other country in the race towards manufacturing robotics. Germany is springing far into the future with a factory version, an industrial version, of WEB 4.0. In their case they call it the INDUSTRIAL FACTORY 4.0 and it is indeed way ahead of the rest of the world.
Their experiment is gaining attention in their country and word is getting out to other countries. Germany is likely to ramp up rather quickly to other factories. A number of their factories have already converted to be fully automated with robots doing everything on the assembly line, floor delivery of work in process components, feeding other machines, and so on. Jobs that humans at those plants once did. Yes. NO ASSEMBLY LINE WORKERS anywhere in the plant.
But like every human being, even technology has an Achilles’ heel. Those machines need to be controlled from somewhere. The internet will facilitate those masters of the remote keyboard. One glitch, though. America dominates and controls just about every aspect of the Internet. Google, for example, may get in the way of Germany’s quest since Google can be considered the internet equivalent to “Masters of the Information Universe”. Same goes with some other American internet giants. And you can bet your bottom dollar that Germany suspects the CIA, NSA, and every other government agency ending in an “A”, has its mitts all over those American internet powerhouses. Germany is championing leading edge technology, but American companies, and likely the American government, hold the information that is key for those German companies to succeed and prosper. Can you say, “trust us”, anyone?
Germany is planning to have country-wide implementation within 10 years. You can bet that this is a wake up call for North American manufacturers! The move in North America to converting plants partially to robots is not going to be good enough. [Side note: companies are going to need plenty of cheap money for the next 10 years .]
Meanwhile, if you have kids or grand children, you may want to start badgering them to channel their interest into useful academic pursuits that will help them become employable in this new work world order that will be dominated by robots, smart plants, and remote telemetry.
[Source: Germany Bets on ‘Smart Factories’ to Keep Its Manufacturing Edge By Christopher Alessi and Chase Gummer . The Wall Street Journal, online. Oct. 26, 2014.]