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Category Archives: Automation

Sieren’s China: Development through automation – Deutsche Welle

Posted: August 25, 2017 at 4:00 am

For a good decade, the US “Transformers” film series was a great success. But the fifth film, which hit Chinese screens in June, was a relative flop. Could this be because reality has partially surpassed science fiction?

In April, the Chinese logistics company Shentong Express released a promotional video to show how work is carried out in its warehouses. There are no human beings to be seen in the film. Instead, hundreds of orange-colored robots sort packages like busy bees. The People’s Daily boasted that Shentong Express’ switch to automation could slash its costs by up to 70 percent. Back in the day, there might have been talk of a model company or suggestions that others could learn from the robotics industry.

‘Made in China 2025’

The days when China celebrated the working class and intimidated the West with its army of cheap labor are over. Now, the government is looking to automation. The new agenda is called “Made in China 2025” and the idea is to go from being the world’s factory to a high-tech superpower. The plan is to be producing 100,000 competitive robots per year by 2020. According to this year’s World Robotics Report, China is already well ahead in this sector. It made over 87,000 units last year – 27 percent up from the year before. The president of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) Joe Gemma said that there had never been such a dynamic increase in such a short amount of time.

DW’s Frank Sieren

However, in comparison to other leading global economies, such as the US and Japan, China still has plenty to learn and remains dependent on foreign expertise. The takeover by the Chinese appliance company Midea of the German firm Kuka, one of the leading makers of robots for the car sector, will help to change matters.

But has also triggered some concern in Brussels and Berlin. Germany prides itself on its engineering and needs to have some advances of its own in the robotics sector too. The country’s then-economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, and the German government tried to prevent the takeover at the time by looking for a European investor, but this turned out to be in vain.

Shrinking workforce

China is also trying to counter the negative consequences of its One Child policy through more automation. There are fewer younger people who can work and – crucially – fewer who are willing to work for such low wages. Therefore, many companies in the global plastic and textile industries have moved to other cheaper countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh.

The speed of China’s automation and its consequences are most visible in the industrial metropolis Kunshan, located between Shanghai and Suzhou. It was here where the Taiwanese company Foxconn, which supplies Apple, Microsoft, Nintendo and Samsung, made a daring move in early 2016 when it dismissed 60,000 out of 110,000 employees and replaced them with robots. Yet, nobody in Beijing protested.

This may have been because Foxconn, which in the past has come under fire because of poor working conditions, has promised to train people for tasks that require higher skills in the future so that they can be employed in development and quality control, for example. So, people will be making robots and also controlling them.

Beijing is conscious that such measures cannot compensate for the massive loss of jobs that millions of migrant workers face in the future. Moreover, it’s already difficult for university graduates today to find jobs. Their numbers are rising as fast as those of robots.

To prevent mass unemployment, China would have to find jobs for people in the growing service sector. But this is not growing as fast as it could because the Chinese population remains wary of the future and is not spending enough.

Beijing faces a dilemma. There is no alternative to automation if the country wants to remain competitive internationally, but the government will have to find a solution to appease the country’s millions of low-skilled workers if they do not want them to rise up against the robots in the future.

Frank Sieren has lived in Beijing for over 20 years.

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Hong Kong’s financial bosses want staff to adapt to automation at work and upgrade their skill sets, survey finds – South China Morning Post

Posted: at 4:00 am

Hong Kongs top financial executives are embracing automation in the workplace and urging employees to enhance their problem-solving skills and adapt as machines replace manual duties, a survey has found.

Recruitment consultancy Robert Half polled 100 chief financial officers and financial directors at companies in a range of industries, including business services, marketing and logistics. The executives were questioned about their views on automation and expectations for finance staff.

Some 72 per cent agreed that office automation would not cause a loss of jobs, but instead a shift in the skills required of financial professionals.

Rather than simply hand over control to robots, finance professionals can actively equip themselves with the skills required to leverage the capabilities of automation, said Adam Johnston, managing director of Robert Half Hong Kong.

Using more advanced technology in the workplace requires additional, well-developed skills, such as advanced data analysis, interpretation skills, and decision-making skills.

The survey found 54 per cent of corporate financial bosses wanted employees to more deeply develop their problem-solving skills; 53 per cent said staff should have strategic vision for the company; 34 per cent wanted workers to adapt; and 33 per cent emphasised communication skills.

Automative solutions are increasingly being adopted in the corporate world, from technology that frees accountants from manual calculations and tax filings, to self-checkout machines at supermarkets and department stores.

The survey also showed 55 per cent of financial bosses believed automation could bring them better decision-making capabilities; 50 per cent thought it would free up employees to take on more value-added work; and 49 per cent said they foresaw increased efficiency and productivity.

Contrary to many perceptions about the potential dangers of automation, the benefits of new technologies are attainable for companies who embrace workplace automation rather than resist it, Johnston said.

While automation may diminish some routine manual roles, it will lead to faster decision making, reduce the risk of errors, and eliminate stresses associated with laborious task-management responsibilities.

The poll also found 51 per cent of financial chiefs believed their staff could learn new skills more quickly by embracing automation. But 69 per cent admitted companies still had a long way to go in adapting to the phenomenon.

Change is happening and companies need to adapt to an increasingly automated workforce though theres still a long way to go, Johnston said. It will be an ongoing process for companies to fully adapt to change, and Hong Kong organisations understand they need to refocus the workforce to truly realise the benefits of combining the right human skills with new technology.

Lancy Chui, senior vice-president for Greater China at human resources firm ManpowerGroup, said big companies were more inclined to embrace automation than small ones because it took money to invest in it.

Once the implementation has started, companies realise the investment is worth it, Chui said. It doesnt mean companies dont need any staff any more, because you still need people to check that the analysis is correct.

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Rockwell Automation: Falling Behind? – Barron’s

Posted: at 4:00 am


Barron’s
Rockwell Automation: Falling Behind?
Barron’s
Over the past decade, ROK management often claim that Process automation represents the #1 growth opportunity for the company, but its sales in this market have barely grown in recent years, despite its much smaller sales base compared with established …
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Vanguard Group Inc Adjusts Its Investment in Rockwell Automation, Inc. (ROK) Last QuarterModern Readers
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Hong Kong CFOs Agree Workplace Automation Requires a Shift in Finance Skills – CFO innovation ASIA

Posted: at 4:00 am

Workplace automation is often thought of as a negative occurrence as for most people it is synonymous with job losses. However, new independent research commissioned by specialized recruiter Robert Half shows more jobs are expected to be created than replaced by automation.

This positive jobs sentiment is reflected in a recent speech by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard University while automation will eventually replace some jobs, it is up to millennials to create new ones.

In terms of job loss, almost three in four (72%) Hong Kong CFOs agree workplace automation does not imply a reduction in finance employees in their team, but rather, it requires a shift in the necessary skills. More specifically, the top skills finance professionals need to focus on as a result of automation are problem-solving skills (54%), strategic vision (53%), flexibility/ability to adapt (34%) and communication (33%).

Contrary to many perceptions about potential dangers of automation, the benefits of new technologies are attainable to companies who embrace workplace automation rather than resist it, says Adam Johnston, Managing Director of Robert Half Hong Kong.

While automation may diminish some routine manual roles, it will lead to faster decision making, reduce the risk of errors, and eliminate stresses associated with laborious task-management responsibilities.

Johnston also noted that iInnovative companies who adapt to automation will need to bring in experts who are equipped to lead this change, leading to jobs creation and demand for specialists.

Organizations will also need to focus on staff training to ensure their workforces have the adequate skills to leverage the benefits brought by workplace automation.

Rather than simply hand over control to the robots finance professionals can actively equip themselves with the skills required to leverage the capabilities of automation. Using more advanced technology in the workplace requires additional, well-developed skills, such as advanced data analysis, interpretation skills, and decision-making skills.

The advantages of automation

The benefits brought about by workplace automation for finance organizations are plenty. According to Hong Kong CFOs, the top three advantages businesses will experience in the finance department are better decision-making capabilities (55%), employees taking on more value-added work (50%) increased efficiency and productivity (49%).

For finance employees, the positive impacts of automation on their daily workloads are increased output (71%), increasingly being able to quickly learn new capabilities (51%) and increased focus on the execution of tasks and less on the inputting of data (50%).

The finance function needs to evolve

While 84% of Hong Kong CFOs agree that increased reliance on technology and digital processes can deliver a positive impact to the finance function, it will be crucial for organizations to ensure they have the necessary skills needed to unearth the positive impacts for both companies and employees alike.

Indeed, while companies will be looking to sharpen their competitive edge with automation, the pressure will fall on a savvy workforce to make things happen. More than two in three (69%) CFOs agree their finance function still has a long way to go in updating its technologies and digital processes.

Change is happening and companies need to adapt to an increasing automated workforce though theres still a long way to go. It will be an ongoing process for companies to fully adapt to change, and Hong Kong organizations understand they need to refocus the workforce to truly realize the benefits of combining the right human skills with new technology, concluded Johnston.

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PMMI Set To Release Automation Report – Automation World

Posted: August 22, 2017 at 11:52 pm

While the packaging and processing industries have always been key adopters of automation technologies, there is a growing trend across these industries to use greater amounts of automation than they previously have.

According to a new report from PMMI, The Evolution of Automation 2017 for the processing and packaging, food, beverage, pharmaceutical and personal care industries, there are six key trends driving greater plant floor automation use across these industries. (Editors note: PMMI Media Group, publisher of Automation World, is owned by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.) Those trends are:

Though these factors are driving greater interest in and use of automation across the industries surveyed, the actual implementation of automation technologies in these industries is progressing at a moderate rate due to several factors. The PMMI report highlights the following reasons for the steady, yet slow, adoption of increased levels of automation across the packaging and processing industries:

One chart in the report, A Projection of How Automation Will Advance in Processing and Packaging Companies, (shown above) indicates that all aspects of machine and software automation will increase significantly over the next decade. This prediction is based on the collective average response of survey participants, with larger companies automating and integrating faster; small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are also investing more, but at a slower rate.

The report notes that SMEs are embracing automation not just to optimize production processes, but also to survive in an increasingly faster-paced market driven by supply chain partner and consumer demands. Though one of the drawbacks to greater automation use for SMEs is the cost of the technology, the report highlights three key benefits that can help offset a significant portion of those costs:

When it comes to spending on automation technologies, over half of the end users taking part in the research said, There is not a separate line item specifically for automation, but capital budgets are increasing. Despite this lack of spending clarity from a majority of respondents, one quarter of respondents noted that they do have a budget specifically set aside for automation investments.

Breaking out respondents comments to assess spending trends across the vertical industries covered in the study, the PMMI report shows:

The full report from PMMI will be released following PACK EXPO 2017 at http://www.pmmi.org/research. Highlights from report will also be showcased during the PACK EXPO event in Las Vegas, September 25-27.

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Aging Japan Wants Automation, Not Immigration – Bloomberg

Posted: at 11:52 pm

Japantends to be less wary of automation, even in nursing homes.

Japan’s next boom may be at hand, driven by the very thing that is supposed to be bad for its economy.

Japan’s aging and shrinking populationhas been partly blamed for the on-again, off-again nature of growth and deflation the past three decades. Lately, it’s been drivingadifferent and just as powerful idea: In the absence of large-scale immigration, the only viable solution for many domestic industries is toplow money into robots and information technology more generally.

Humans will still be needed, of course, and that’s behind a separate by-product of Japan’s demographic challenges that I wrote about during a visit there last month. With unemployment down to 2.8 percent, companies are increasingly realizing they need to pay up to attract and keep qualified personnel.The other option — increased immigration — is politically difficult.

Japanese tech innovation in yesteryear was about gadgets and games designed to give pleasure. Think Sony’s iconic Walkman and Nintendo games. Now the demand in Japan comes from an older demographic. A nursing home may well be the place to look for the next wave.

As my colleagues Henry Hoenig and Keiko Ujikane wrote this week, an owner of nursing homes in the Tokyo area plans to spend 300 million yen ($2.7 million) on software to make life easier for employees and residents.

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Hoenig, Toru Fujioka and I heard anecdotes like that numerous times during a December trip to Kadoma, a city near Osaka. The area was once an industrial powerhouse that rode Japan’s post-1945 industrial surge with local employers like Panasonic Corp. Now, Mayor Kazutaka Miyamoto frets openly about whether there will simply be enough wage earners to pay the taxes to maintain hospitals, public transport and schools (for those few children who are born and actually stay).

Miyamoto does not share the worries that dominate conversations about robots and AI in the West. He almost laughed when pressed on the issue in a conversation in his office. What if robots eliminate jobs? He said that would be a good thing. He told us to look around: There aren’t many people on the streets in the middle of a weekday.

He doesn’t see any real appetite for immigration on a scale that would substitute for more robots and AI. Few businesses we spoke to that day did. One small manufacturer insisted that immigration would dilute Japan’s homogeneous society. He would happily get a few robots if he could afford them. Wait until the price comes down.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch forecast IT investment in Japan to rise as much as 9 percent annually in coming years, with the difference in software investment per worker versus the U.S. falling to 5 to 1 by 2020 from about 10 to 1 now.

The budding surge isn’t limited to manufacturers. Non-manufacturing companies planned 2.4 trillion yen in software investment in the fiscal year ending in March 2018, according to the Bank of Japans Tankan survey, released in July. That would be the most since 2009. Retailers plan to spend 146.4 billion yen on software this fiscal year, the most on record for data going back to 1999.

Another reason Japanese people don’t share American angst about robotics: Astro Boy. Cultural affection for the anime character has made it easier for people to feel more relaxed about robots and technology in their lives.

Just as well. That nurse assisting you in retirement may soon be a robot, along with the dog that keeps you company.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story: Daniel Moss at dmoss@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Gray at philipgray@bloomberg.net

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The self-driving car of security automation – CSO Online

Posted: at 11:52 pm

By Kumar Saurabh, Contributor, CSO | Aug 22, 2017 7:01 AM PT

Opinions expressed by ICN authors are their own.

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When I speak with CISOs about automation in cybersecurity, it can conjure up parallels to self-driving cars. After all, if machine learning can create cars that drive themselves, why cant we have self-driving security?

Its a bit early and optimistic, however, to say machine learning and automation will immediately solve all cybersecurity challenges, if ever. Given the threat landscapes inevitable evolution, it will most likely remain an arms race between the defenders and the attackers for the near and long term.

Alternatively, the promise of a machine doing what we thought only humans could do is quickly approaching reality. Theres a lot of early results, hype and even more potential. In fact, this is also true for self-driving cars. The Washington Post highlighted the different levels of development in regards to autonomy in self-driving cars established by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

Specifically, the evolutionary path to the much-hyped fully autonomous car with each stage providing exponential value.

Similarly in cybersecurity, increasing levels of intelligent automation will also provide exponential benefits. If we compare the levels in the auto industry and apply them to the world of cybersecurity, level zero has very little automation while level five is most autonomous.

On one hand, you have solutions such as User Behavior Analytics and Network Traffic Analysis that profess to automatically analyze normal behavior and alert anything abnormal. The drawback is the inability to understand the full context of an environment or situation, which results in a tendency to generate too many false positives and requires significant analyst involvement to triage.

On the other hand, you have early orchestration solutions that can partially automate some of the easier and repeatable actions during an incident response process. While this solution is adequate to collect relevant information for an investigation process, the actual decision making is delegated to the analyst.

In essence, Level 2 automates actions and repeatable tasks, but not the decision making and judgments that require intelligence.

The first is full, end-to-end alert triage automation. This is where the system has the intelligence, based on context and awareness of an alerts severity, to make decisions and accept feedback from human analysts. Though more advanced systems are able to provide a full explanation of their scoring, analysts still need to review the systems results. However, 95 percent of the overhead work they used to have to do is effectively eliminated.

Second is automated threat hunting that is possible after expert analysts map out the logic they would use in an investigation. The system applies cognitive automation to intelligently hunt for threats 24/7, but at a scale with which human analysts cant keep up. This approach can be made more manageable with prescriptive logic flows for specific use cases, such as Threat Hunter for CloudTrail or Threat Hunter for Office 365.

Such a solution does not exist today, but is often what CISOs hope for when they hear security automation. Achieving this nirvana will require significant advancements in machine learning and computing power.

Security operations technologies have greatly evolved in the past decade. The first big wave was driven by log aggregation and analytics, followed by predictive technologies. The next generation of solutions will be Prescriptive Security Intelligence, offering specific solutions to typical security use cases. The industry will take time to enter a fully autonomous state. If security automation is your end goal, start by looking for Level 3 security solutions that can drive 80 percent of the way to your destination.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

Kumar Saurabh is the CEO and co-founder of security intelligence automation platform LogicHub. Kumar has 15 years of experience in the enterprise security and log management space leading product development efforts at ArcSight and SumoLogic, which he left to co-found LogicHub.

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History offers a reassuring message on automation – Chicago Booth Review (blog)

Posted: at 11:52 pm

I am often asked to opine about whether automation will destroy all the jobs. Yes, we talk about tractors, which brought farm employment from something like 70 percent in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century to about 3 percent today. And about cars, which put the horse drivers out of business. And about trains, which put the canal boats out of business.

A more recent case has occurred to me, however. Its the one represented by the photo at the top of this page. It may look unfamiliar to some today, but this is what offices looked like in the 1950s and 1960s. Specifically, the photo shows a typing pool, and there used to be basketball-court-sized rooms that looked just like this, all over the place, staffed almost exclusively by women.

Then along came the copiermany of these women are copying documents by typing them over again with a few sheets of carbon paperthe fax machine, the word processor, the PC. And thats just typing. Accounting involved similar ranks of women with adding machines. Women by the roomful used to operate telephone switchboards, now all automated.

This memory lives on in the architecture of universities. All the old buildings have empty hutchesfor secretaries.

Business changes, and the workforce grows Women poured into the labor market despite automation destroying their old office jobs.

If you were prognosticating in or around 1970, and someone asked, What will happen now that women want to join the workforce, but office automation is going to destroy all their jobs? it would be a pretty gloomy forecast. But heres what actually happened: the female labor force increased from 20 million to 75 million. The female participation rate increased from below 35 percent to 60 percent. Womens wages relative to mens rose as female workers moved into activities with higher productivity than retyping the same memo a hundred times. Businesses expanded. And no, 55 million men were not out on the streets begging for spare change.

It is true that the male labor-force-participation rate did decline, from 87.5 percent to 70 percent. Thats a big, worrisome decline. But its 15 percentage points, while the womens increase was 25 percentage points. Also, the male labor force expanded from 45 million to 82 million.

Whos in, whos out As womens participation in the workforce has increased over the decades, the proportion of men working has declined.

US labor-force-participation rate Percentage of civilian population age 16 and older

US Bureau of Labor Statistics

But even if women were moving in and men moving out of employment, it would just show that you cant make predictions simply by looking at who has what jobs now that are threatened by automation. The typing pool got better jobs.

This is all a simplification, of course. There were surely some people with specific skillsshorthand, for examplewho could not retrain and didnt do as well as others. There are real problems with the labor market and real concerns for American workers, whatever the color of their collars.

But will automation mean that all the jobs vanish? In the case of the office-technology revolution, even combined with a large expansion in the number of people wanting to work, it did not.

John H. Cochrane is a seniorfellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and distinguished senior fellow at Chicago Booth. This essay is adapted from a post on his blog, The Grumpy Economist.

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Global Terminal Automation Market in the Oil and Gas Industry 2017-2021 – Key Vendors are ABB, Emerson, Implico … – PR Newswire (press release)

Posted: at 11:52 pm

The global terminal automation market in the oil and gas industry to grow at a CAGR of 6.72% during the period 2017-2021.

Global Terminal Automation Market in the Oil and Gas Industry 2017-2021, has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report also includes a discussion of the Key vendors operating in this market. To calculate the market size, the report considers new installations, value, and aftermarket services market.

Terminal automation is a system that eases the product handling at the terminal and enables integration of these operations with the business software. It is used to measure, control, automate, and report all the exchanges and transfers. It offers complete management from receipt of the product to inventory control to dispatch recording. Terminal automation systems are deployed in various applications in the oil and gas terminals. Oil terminals include truck and pipeline terminals, whereas gas terminals include liquefaction liquid natural gas (LNG) and regasification LNG terminals.

One trend in the market is emergence of IoT and cloud integration. IoT is the next generation technology for all the applications due to its superior advantages in connectivity.

According to the report, one driver in the market is global expansion in oil terminals. Oil terminals are required to store the crude oil and petroleum products. The tank terminal industry is one of the spurring industries since last decade. The oil terminal owners made profits owing to the increased trade of oil and gas and increasing demand for storing the product in the high oil and gas prices scenario.

However, in low oil prices scenario, the industry is propelled by the trading and marketing activities by the countries. With low crude oil prices, oil and gas supply chain market structure is contango (a situation in which future value of the commodity is higher compared to spot pricing).

Further, the report states that one challenge in the market is huge capital investment and business downtime. Terminal automation provides several benefits ranging from increased operational efficiency to lowering the manual interference.

Key vendors

Other prominent vendors

Key Topics Covered:

Part 01:Executive summary

Part 02: Scope of the report

Part 03: Research Methodology

Part 04: Introduction

Part 05: Market landscape

Part 06: Market segmentation by product

Part 07: Market segmentation by application

Part 08: Geographical segmentation

Part 09: Decision framework

Part 10: Drivers and challenges

Part 11: Market trends

Part 12: Vendor landscape

Part 13: Key vendor analysis

Part 14: Appendix

For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/ccf8nt/global_terminal

Media Contact:

Research and Markets Laura Wood, Senior Manager press@researchandmarkets.com

For E.S.T Office Hours Call +1-917-300-0470 For U.S./CAN Toll Free Call +1-800-526-8630 For GMT Office Hours Call +353-1-416-8900

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Distinctive Home Automation New York: Improve your Life

Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Smart Homes with Modern Window Treatments

Smart Homes with modern window treatments use Lutron and Somfy motorized screen shades to control your home automation lighting.

Home automation systems from Lutron and Somfy let you set collections of settings for your home.

For example, in the morning you can have your motorized window treatments automatically rise, your lights turn on. At the same time, your thermostat turned to a comfortable temperature. To clarify, you can program your lighting to completely switch off at night or when you leave your house to conserve energy. Formore you can set a couple of lights to turn on at night for security purposes. To put it another way, you can access your home automation system through your mobile device or laptop.

Home automation should make your life easier, not more complex thats where we come in. At Distinctive Home Automation, we work with you at your pace to set everything up. We provide expert consultation to help you figure out and get what you need. Of course, your input is essential for specific decisions and configurations, but we do the rest.

Our expert technicians will install and program your home automation system seamlessly. Most importantly we hold our products and customer service to very high standards to keep you happy.

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