Manufacturing News from the Engineered Designer Perspective

Automation, robotics to have profound effect on industry in coming years

Daimler-robotics-self-fdriving-transport-truck-automation-Canada-employment-industry-EDIWeekly

A Stratford, Ontario manufacturer of rolling bearings and related systems for the global auto industry is the latest company to receive support from the provincial government’s Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SODF). Schaeffler Canada received $1.3 million of public money which, along with $11.8 million of private funds, will finance the addition of two assembly lines and the purchase of new automation equipment. The investment in the Canadian subsidiary of the Schaeffler Group, a global automotive and industrial supplier, will create forty-four new jobs and retain 362 existing positions, the government statement says.

The SODF has invested approximately $95 million in the region as part of the government’s economic strategy to create the “jobs of the future,” meaning those requiring high-quality college and university education, in innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses.

The announcement of this latest investment in automation in the auto sector comes just days after the release of a new report on the subject from the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University. That report, titled The Talented Mr. Robot: The Impact of Automation on Canada’s Workforce, says that automation is transforming traditional occupations and changing many daily tasks done by Canadians. It also has the potential to create new jobs.

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 7.11.55 PM
Source: The Talented Mr. Robot

Already, according to the report, 42 per cent of the Canadian labour force is at a “high risk” of being affected by automation, meaning the replacement of human workers by technology and computerization. Whereas automation has thus far been more restricted to routine, manual tasks, advances in artificial intelligence and robotics are allowing automation to enter the realm of cognitive, non-routine tasks and occupations, including driving transport trucks and even conducting job interviews.

The report emphasizes that while 42 per cent of employed workers could be replaced by automation, this does not mean that all of those jobs will be lost. Many, it says, will be restructured and new jobs created. The vast majority of the high-risk occupations are in office support and general administration, sales and services, transportation and distribution, lower skilled technical occupations in health, natural and applied sciences, as well as manufacturing and construction labourers and assemblers.

An industry that apparently could benefit from automation, but is not likely to do so in the short term, is trucking. The industry is in such desperate need of drivers that, according to The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) it is at the edge of a demographic cliff as the shortage continues to accelerate. The industry is projected to face a shortage of ­34,000–48,000 drivers by 2024, depending on various factors, including how attractive the occupation is seen to be. By that year, the majority of drivers will be more than forty-nine years old, while the share of younger drivers has been dropping. Unpredictable working hours and long time spent away from home were found to be deterrents to recruitment of new drivers.

As well, trucking is a labour-intensive business in which labour accounts for 20 per cent of costs, according to the CTA.

Daimler-self-fdriving-transport-truck-automation-Canada-employment-industry-EDIWeekly
Limited self-driving trucks are already appearing on the roads, but drivers must still accompany them. It is likely to be a decade before manufacturers take it to the next level of autonomy. The industry faces a critical shortage of drivers.

While automation is an obvious solution to the problem of a growing shortage of drivers and potentially to the problem of high labour costs, fully automated trucks are not likely to be operational by 2024, the forecast period of a study conducted by transportation consultants CPCS. Therefore, the industry does not see automation as a means to resolve labour shortages. Rather, automation will likely introduce itself “piecemeal” starting with driver assist technologies, which could allow drivers to do other things while behind the wheel.

Even if the trucking industry is not likely to benefit fully from automation in the short term, other industries are facing a different crisis which automation could help resolve today. Many companies in the property and casualty insurance industry, for example, which is said to operate in an ultra-competitive market, with “ongoing pressure on margins,” low investment yields and other profit-cutting factors, are facing extinction unless they find ways to cut costs. One of these ways could include process automation, writes Janice Deganis in Canadian Underwriter. Traditional insurance firms need to learn from the “fintechs”—the online lenders—to use technology to deliver the convenience and value customers demand, in the form of new products and services.

Daimler-brick-wall-robot-self-fdriving-transport-truck-automation-Canada-employment-industry-EDIWeekly
Robot building a brick wall. The construction industry is one in which the potential for displacement of workers by automation is high, according to The Talented Mr. Robot.

In some cases, companies that have already embraced automation are now preaching the word. On June 21, Cavalier Tool & Manufacturing Ltd. will present a seminar on improving tool room productivity through automation. Productivity improvements such as shorter delivery times, more rapid enhancements and lower costs are the promised benefits of a highly efficient shop that runs “24/7 with minimal intervention.”

Meanwhile, advances in the use of intelligent data and the Internet of things mean that it is now possible for oil wells, previously considered “dumb” technology, to operate themselves autonomously. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in oil production costs can be saved “for the price of a smartphone,” according to Nav Dhunay, president and CEO of ambyint. In a piece in The OGM, Dhunay writes that “the dumber the products, the greater the opportunity.” The ambyint platform can provide well managers with real-time information and remote control over each well, giving them the ability to autonomously maximize the efficiency of every well and alert producers instantly of on-site problems.

Latest Stories

“I will destroy humans” says life-like robot: Elon Musk’s claim that artificial intelligence poses a threat to mankind may be justified?

“I will destroy humans” says life-like robot: Elon Musk’s claim that artificial intelligence poses a threat to mankind may be justified?

It may have been a glitch, but during a media interview, a “smart learning” robot named Sophia declared: “Okay, I will destroy humans.”     Although this was in response to an interview question from a journalist, it came across as a little jarringly frightening — rather than as the joke that might have been…

Smart winery? Environmental Health Monitoring Technology to boost plant production; pilot with Ontario winery with Bell in partnership with Huawei

Smart winery? Environmental Health Monitoring Technology to boost plant production; pilot with Ontario winery with Bell in partnership with Huawei

Bell announced a new partnership with Ontario-based BeWhere, an Internet of Things (IoT) solutions company, and China-based tech company Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker. Huawei worked with Bell to develop “an environmental monitoring solution to help improve the health and quality of plants at the vineyard.” Steve Lu, President of Huawei Canada said:…

$6.5 million Small Business Innovation Challenge to develop technologies in “Vehicle Occupancy Detection” and “Digital Identity”

$6.5 million Small Business Innovation Challenge to develop technologies in “Vehicle Occupancy Detection” and “Digital Identity”

Funded by the Ontario Government, the Small Business Innovation Challenge is helping companies develop new technologies in Vehicle Occupancy Detection — used to detect how many people are in an automobile for high occupancy toll roads (HOT) — and Digital Identity to help secure government services. To date, $6.5 million has been allocated, with $3.76…

Ontario launches Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network in Stratford to highlight privonce as the “go to” for Autonomous tech

Ontario launches Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network in Stratford to highlight privonce as the “go to” for Autonomous tech

Ontario is reinforcing its status as a go-to destination for developing automated vehicles by launching AVIN, the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network, in Stratford. This unique demonstration zone is among the first of its kind in Canada and will allow researchers to hone the technology and test an AV in a wide range of everyday, real-life…

GO Transit may deploy hydrogen-power rather than electric; consults with Canadian fuel cell technology company that worked on world’s first hydrogen-powered train

GO Transit may deploy hydrogen-power rather than electric; consults with Canadian fuel cell technology company that worked on world’s first hydrogen-powered train

  Canadian hydrogen generation and fuel cell products developer Hydrogenics Corporation will formally undertake feasibility study for GO Transit to potentially deploy hydrogen-powered trains for Ontario. These trains have aleady proven successful in Europe, using technology developed in Canada at Hydrogenics. The Ontario Government announced the consultation yesterday, as part of its $13.5 billion RER…

100,000 watt laser firing 10,000 pulses per second would “deorbit” tons of dangerous space debris

100,000 watt laser firing 10,000 pulses per second would “deorbit” tons of dangerous space debris

The Extreme Univese Space Observatory telescope, originally built to detect cosmic rays, could be used to target space debris in orbit. According to scientists, a powerful laser can then be used to de-orbit space junk that endangers the International Space Station and other satelites. The laser system would be armed with a 100,000 wat ultraviolet…

Women will represent 50% of leadership positions at Oath (AOL-Yahoo merger) says CEO Tim Armstrong

Women will represent 50% of leadership positions at Oath (AOL-Yahoo merger) says CEO Tim Armstrong

In a move toward equality and inclusivity, Oath CEO Tim Armstrong has announced a mission to fill at least half of the company’s leadership positions with women by 2020. He had the opportunity to discuss this mission in a recent episode of CNN’s Boss Files with Poppy Harlow.     The CEO of Oath —…

Latest Update on KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack): the flaw in WPA2 protocal for WIFI systems

Latest Update on KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack): the flaw in WPA2 protocal for WIFI systems

Belgian researchers, Mathy Vanhoef and Frank Piessens — who recently issued warnings concerning a bug in the WPA2 protocol, a widely used system for securing Wi-Fi communications — have made tools available to “detect whether an implementaiton of the 4-way handshake… is vulnerable to key reinstallation attacks.” Standard protocols, such as “changing the password” will…

Bill Gates betting we can invent our way to a clean energy world

Bill Gates betting we can invent our way to a clean energy world

One of the world’s wealthiest businessmen and philanthropists hopes to serve as a catalyst in finding speedier solutions to the world’s climate change problems. Bill Gates of Microsoft has teamed with Mark Zuckerberg and a dozen or so other billionaires and high-profile institutions to launch the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. Gates has pledged $2 billion of…

A cloaking device possible? Stealth technology studies virtual invisibility through “irradiating with its own specific pattern”

A cloaking device possible? Stealth technology studies virtual invisibility through “irradiating with its own specific pattern”

Every kid has dreamed of being invisible at some point. Whether that stemmed from the desire to escape awkward encounters or dreams of being a spy and finding dirt on those around us, we have all been there. While true invisibility may not be possible, a recent study claims that we may be closer than…

1 2 3 73Next →

Other Popular News and Stories

  • Bombardier holds update on CSeries aircraft
  • Canadian oil production up; producers turning to railways for shipment
  • Volkswagen to produce super-efficient hybrid
  • DART Aerospace re-branding itself to reach wider markets
  • Miners struggling with higher costs, lower prices
  • BC refinery close to financing deal
  • Japex to buy into west coast LNG development
  • RV industry has growing role in Canada's economy: study
  • SPPCA's new landing gear facility opening in Mississauga
  • Russian leasing company orders 42 CSeries jets from Bombardier
  • FTG Aerospace to supply avionics to Rockwell Collins
  • Canadian business, except energy, had profitable Q4: Statistics Canada
  • GM investing $250 million at Ingersoll plant
  • Manufacturing the sole industry showing job losses in February
  • Pratt & Whitney Canada announces helicopter engine contracts
  • Clean energy expected to surge as pv costs drop
  • Economy managed slight growth in Q4, but shrank in December
  • Bombardier nearly ready to flight test CSeries
  • Skilled labour shortage in world oil industry: report
  • Canada keeping up pressure on US for Keystone XL approval