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    Exploratory

Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics

6

attach and

remove them in

equipment.

Various kinds

proper sequence, of machines also

this have

capability is built into the built-in capabilities for

grasping, loading, unloading and passing parts along. And devices for testing the conformance of finished parts with

still others include dimensional requirements.

The point being emphasized is that continuing development of programmable

automation systems may well the functional capabilities

involve changes in the physical forms as well as in

of

robot-like

contributions

to

production.

Physically

separate units may be increasingly supplemented by replaceable attached units to service the changing requirements of particular machines, as well as by built-

in robot-like capabilities in cases where the need for such services is expected

to be thus,

continuous and to remain within many labor-replacing robots may

a range which

can be met

themselves be

replaced.

effectively

--

Indeed, the

very

development of improved capabilities later equipment to incorporate some

in of

robots may stimulate the redesign of these additional functions. Hence, while

it may remain feasible to assess the prospective effects of many individual robot applications, an increasing number of cases may require a broader evalu- ative context in order to ensure consideration of their interactions with other inputs as well as of other factors affecting performance in tightly integrated production operations.

B.

ROBOTICS, MANUFACTURING PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS

1.

On the Concept and Measurement of Productivity

Despite widespread concern about lagging productivity in many U.S. industries,

analyses of the problem and proposed improvement policies are still seriously

handicapped in several ways. liance on inadequate concepts

The and

most serious of these misleading measures of

involves continuing re- productivity, such as

“output

per

man-hour”

or

“value

added

per

man-hour”

or

the

supposedly

sophisticated

“total factor productivity” -- all of which when not actually misleading, for managerial

can be shown purposes.

to

be

of

dubious

value,

of to of

For example, “output per man-hour” has nothing to do with the effectiveness production as a whole, or even with the effectiveness of labor contributions

output.

By comparing the combined product of all inputs with the

paid

hours

by

one

input,

it

patently

ignores

changes

in

the

volume

sheer volume and contri-

butions of all other inputs. attributing changes in output

“Value added per man-hour” to only one of the inputs,

repeats this error of but also encourages

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