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App. B—Commissioned Background Papers .

17

demands for increases in wage rates to match increases in their

to production capabilities.

and

some

domestic

managements

But it does mean that

as

well

  • --

    have

found

some foreign it possible

contributions managements -- to work with

domestic labor in ways which yield high quality products,

competitive

costs.

Here

again,

therefore,

the

need

is

to

high productivity and dig beneath superficial

generalizations to come more closely to grips with the factors which are most influential in various sectors of industry, and under different conditions.

2.

Potential Contributions of Robotics and Programmable Automation to Improving International Competitiveness

The potential contributions of robotics and programmable automation to improving the competitiveness of domestic manufacturing industries must be examined within the context of the preceding complex of influential factors.

tend

Increasing the utilization of progressively improved robots to have a positive effect on technological competitiveness.

would obviously But the re-

sulting gain is likely to be of only modest proportions in most plants and industries unless such advances are integrated with simultaneous advances

in

other determinants of technological competitiveness.

Roboticizing manual op-

erations in old plants using

limited

potentials.

Nor

are

other

single

component

of

the

old machinery to make major advances likely

interwoven

fabric

of

old products has obviously to result from improving any changes underlying significant

progress in technological competitiveness.

Robotics

stantial contributions to such progress, but only program to improve technological competitiveness.

as

can undoubtedly make sub- part of a comprehensive

Such programs must encompass carefully co-ordinated plans seeking to improve the capabilities and attractiveness of products, to adopt advanced technologies,

to embody them in modern equipment of a scale deemed close to optimal for the level of output and product-mix to be provided, to provide for progressively ad- justing input factor proportions and equipment utilization practices so as to maximize production efficiency, and to ensure continuing efforts to improve

performance.

It would be impractical,

of course, to attempt to advance on all

of these fronts simultaneously.

But it would also be frustrating and wasteful

to attempt to make major advances along any prospective interactions with, and possibly other components.

of these channels without considering offsetting pressures from, these

107

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