Tuesday, December 18, 2012

GM workers program robots to wrap gifts (VIDEO)

Michigan Live reports:
At the Detroit-based automaker’s Fort Wayne Assembly in Indiana, some employees reprogrammed a few of the company’s 25,000 manufacturing robots to wrap presents...
While meant to be entertaining, the video, which is embedded in this article, is “just an offshoot of GM’s drive to develop flexible manufacturing systems,” according to GM. 
Just over 50 years ago, the company entered into a partnership with “Father of Robotics” Joseph Engelberger, which resulted in the first industrial robot being used in a GM production facility.
And speaking of manufacturing workers...

You know how we hear about a "skills shortage" in the work force? Daniel J.B. Mitchell concludes that the shortage is really in the employers' ability to recruit new workers.

In Mitchell's Musings, he writes that the loss of manufacturing jobs leveled off in 2009. Then manufacturing jobs began to return at the same rate as jobs in the broader economy. That meant employers had a harder time finding workers:
...manufacturing employers suddenly faced a different kind of labor market.  Before 2009, and generally during the 2000s, they were shedding labor so – to the extent that hiring occurred – there were always many recently-shed workers around.  After 2009, manufacturing employers became more similar to other employers.  That is, they had to recruit workers – albeit in a high unemployment labor market.  And they were not used to the change to a need to recruit actively.  So it’s not surprising that their first reaction was “where are all the workers?”  Other (non-manufacturing) employers, in contrast, were used to active
recruiting and went about finding the workers they needed.
He notes that pay hasn't shot up for manufacturing workers, which is what you'd expect when employers have a hard time finding employees. And he concludes,
...the great manufacturing skill-based labor shortage seems instead to be the early stage
of a process in which manufacturing employers are going to have to (re)learn to do what other
employers routinely do: recruit new workers.  Active recruitment is something manufacturers
didn’t have to do very much for almost a decade.  In the short term, how to recruit is the
missing skill in the manufacturing labor market.