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App. B—Commissioned Background Papers . 91

ROBOTICS, PROGRAMMABLE

AUTOMATION AND INCREASING

COMPETITIVENESS*

Bela Gold**

More than 25 years of empirical research on the productivity, cost and other effects of major technological innovations in a wide array of industries in the U.S. and abroad have led me to draw two conclusions:

First:

Second:

Hence, sound

that the actual economic effects of even major technological advances have almost invariably fallen far short of their ex- pected effects; and that such exaggerated expectations have been due to their over- concentration on only a limited sector of the complex of interactions which determine actual results. analysis of the prospective effects of increasing applications of

robotics in domestic industries on their cost effectiveness and international competitiveness requires avoidance of such over-simplifications.

Accordingly, Part I of this paper will present some foundations for policy

analysis, vances in

including:

the place of robotics within

manufacturing

technology;

the

effects

of

current and prospective ad- increasing robot utilization

on productivity and costs; and the resulting effects on international competi-

tiveness.

Part II will then consider the problems and policy implications of

seeking:

to accelerate the development

manufacturing

technology;

to

accelerate

of robotics and related advances in the diffusion of such advances within

domestic manufacturing industries; and to mitigate social and economic effects of such developments.

any

potentially

burdensome

I POLICY ANALYSIS FOUNDATIONS

  • A.

    Robotics and Programmable Automation in Manufacturing

    • 1.

      Programmable Automation

Gains in the physical efficiency of manufacturing operations may be derived

  • *

    Prepared for the Robotics Workshop of the Congressional Office of Technology

Assessment held on July 31, 1981. ** William E. Umstattd professor of Industrial Economics and Director of the

Research Program in Industrial Economics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

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