While some believe that increased automation at plants threatens jobs, the reality may be that automation increases employee confidence and job satisfaction. Arjun Devdas, SVP of services and operations at Vuram, an automation services company, believes that transforming manufacturing companies to laser focus on customer needs improves worker commitment. Vuram navigated the ‘Great Resignation’ tides with outstanding results, doubling the number of people in the organization even during the pandemic.
In the report, Gartner Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022, the analyst company identified a number of tech trends. Two that directly affect manufacturing include:
Hyperautomation. This is a disciplined, business-driven approach to rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible. Hyperautomation enables scalability, remote operation, and business model disruption.
AI Engineering. This automates updates to data, models, and applications to streamline AI delivery. Combined with strong AI governance, AI engineering will operationalize the delivery of AI to ensure its ongoing business value.
Devdas explained the ways manufacturers are benefiting from these technologies:
- Businesses that use automation experience a higher percentage of satisfied employees and thus crucial that employers incorporate automation into their business processes.
- Businesses can use automation to transform their processes, automating simple, repetitive tasks.
- Deploying that automation helps to support employees’ well-being and ensures they remain satisfied and help the company stay competitive.
While many people expected automation to displace workers and cause dissension, it may do the opposite. Automation may eliminate jobs that are essentially dissatisfying. “It’s important to make your workforce happy. When automation comes in, people think it will replace their jobs. They think robots are going to do their work. But the robot actually makes their lives easier,” said Devdas. “The automation can lead workers to personal growth. Menial work may be replaced by meaningful, technology-based work.”
When automation comes into a factory, workers can see for themselves whether it improves work conditions. “We want people to see how the automation affects their teammates. We want them to see how people work together as a digital workforce,” said Devdas. “By using automation, workers can finish more tasks in less time while leaving the menial work to the machines.”
Can the Displaced Worker Do a Higher Skilled Job?
When the menial work is replaced, it makes way for high-skilled technology work. Yet those skilled jobs require training, not a degree in programming. “Training can help displaced workers move into a better position. It’s one of the challenges in automation,” said Devdas. “In the past, for computer jobs, you had to know Java. Now you train people to work with automation, and they don’t need to know Java.”
Banking’s move to automation may serve as an example. When millions of teller jobs were eliminated by the ATM, there was no mass angst. The tellers moved to the sales desks where there was higher pay and more interesting work. “When the ATM was launched, people in banking were doing menial tasks. Now the ATM does the teller work and bank employees are doing more sophisticated jobs,” said Devdas. “That’s the concept. With automation, people move to elevated tasks.”
Training the Displaced Worker
Part of the change is that automation tools can be implemented by configuration, not programming. “You don’t have to be a programmer to do automation. You can configure the automation tools. You don’t need a degree to do that,” said Devdas. “In the automation space a few years ago, you needed original software. Now you can take an automation suite and configure it. It’s less about programming and more about local automation.”
According to, Devdas, that is where happiness comes in. “The automation improves working conditions for employees and improves the competitiveness and stability of the company,” said Devdas. “The employee sees how the company doing and sees how it can grow and how the job possibilities grow. With local automation and robots, any company can replace manual work with more meaningful work by putting automation in place. The company does better and the workers are more satisfied with their work.”