Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics
from a vances
variety of developments. in technology; increases
The most important among these include: ad- in the scale of production; improvements in the
output and quality capabilities of equipment; adjustments in and continuing increments in the effectiveness of production
labor contributions; planning and control.
Because the effectiveness of such operations depends on integrating all these factors, changes in any one are likely to interact with others. Hence, evalu- ation of the effects of any innovation requires consideration of all resulting readjustments in the system.
After basic advances in technology, the most important and continuous source of gains in the physical efficiency of production operations in the past has probably been increases in the specialization of facilities and equipment. The degree of specialization which was found most rewarding was determined by the variety and volume of output which needed to be processed by the given equipment. Thus, increases in the standardization of products and in the quantity required encouraged the introduction of progressively more narrowly specialized production
quantities led to the construction of interlocking arrays of highly specialized machines capable of producing enormous quantities with very great physical
efficiency. in product
Such “dedicated systems”, however, designs or processing methods. As a
permit only minor adjustments result, they are not applicable
to the overwhelming production of wider
proportion of manufacturing activities which involve the
required by such dedicated systems, combined with their very
limited flexibility, also encourages their users to and improvements in production methods in an effort ment as long as possible.
resist to use
changes in products their existing equip-
Of course, engineering design permits a wide range in the extent to which
may be designed to accommodate a wide array of tools in return for limiting its rate of output as well as
and processing other capabilities
in respect to any particular dependent on the concomitant
task. Such specialized
equipment’s output is also contributions of operators
heavily and other
service offered capable
And intermediate degrees of equipment specialization have
progressively larger trade-offs of decreases in the of being performed,as well as decreases in reliance
range of functions on the specialized
contributions of operators and other external the level of output, quality and effectiveness
inputs,in return for increases in of designated production tasks.