Is automation in your future

Is automation in your future - Is automation really a...

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By Jim Montague, Executive Editor One of the old Twilight Zone episodes shows character actor Richard Deacon methodically replacing his factory’s workers with robots, until the last scene when he’s replaced by Robby the Robot from the movie Forbidden Planet. This is an old, familiar fear, but for many process control engineers it finally may be approaching reality. Certainly, there are still the usual layoffs and outsourcings to Asia, where degreed engineers reportedly will work for one-tenth of the typical salaries in the U.S. and Europe. Our economic bones will bleach long before this wage tsunami settles between the hemispheres. Cheerleading free-market capitalism is easy until Adam Smith’s invisible hand bites you in the form of someone who can compete far better because they’re willing to work for far less. (For more on this issue, check out Frontline ’s "Is Wal-Mart Good for America?" documentary on its website at www.pbs.org .) Of course, the ongoing brain drain in process control has just as much to do with its collectively aging population as it does with Asian competition. Few would dispute that the U.S. isn’t training as many engineers as are retiring. However, there’s a third reason why traditional process control may be drying up as a viable profession. It
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This note was uploaded on 03/16/2010 for the course INDUSTRIAL 12345 taught by Professor Mehmettas during the Spring '10 term at Harvard.

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Is automation in your future - Is automation really a...

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