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100 . Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics

10

of interest to add, however, that the above analytical framework can be dis- aggregate from plant level results to results within individual product lines or individual cost centers, and it can also be decomposed to trace the effects of changes among various components of material, labor or capital goods inputs.

(3)

2.

Exploring Productivity and Cost Effects of Robotics and Programmable Automation

The preceding framework may now be used to trace the prospective effects of increased applications of robots and of broader systems of programmable automation.

Within the network of productivity relationships, the immediate impacts of introducing additional robots would tend to center around increases in fixed

investment and reductions in labor requirements per unit of output. where the utilization of machine capacity had been restricted by the

In cases sustainable

speed of labor efforts, processing operations,

output capabilities might be increased.

And in some

robots

might

reduce

the

reject

rate

or

even

raise

the

average quality of requirements would

output. tend to

Of course, part be offset by the

maintenance

and

set-up

personnel

as

well

as

of the reduction in direct man-hour need for providing additional skilled programming capabilities when required.

These indirect manpower requirements emphasize the need to consider the pro-

spective effects of individual robot applications separately from the effects of robotization programs, especially when more complex programmable robots are

involved. for labor

Simple without

mechanical robots which are introduced as direct replacements altering other component of the production process offer no

special evaluation robots for various

problems.

types

of

But the requirements of more complex

skilled

servicing

technicians

and

even

programmable engineers

involves

the

assumption

of

substantial

specialized

and

relatively

fixed

minimum

manpower commitments. depends on the number

Hence,

the effectiveness with which these are

and

variety

of

robots

to

be

employed.

Indeed,

utilized such man-

power requirements might offset most or all of the expected benefits of reductions in operator man-hours if the number of robots acquired were too small to utilize

(3) For more detailed discussion of this analytical approach and for some empirical findings resulting from its applications, see B. Gold, Productivity, Technology

and Capital:

Economic Analysis, Managerial Strategies

and

Government

Policies

(Lexington,

MA:

D.C.

Heath--

Lexing

on

Press,

1979).

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