The Power of Automation During and After COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has made us see the benefits of automation even more. Robots are cleaning hospitals, AI is used for pattern identification and big data analysis, and chatbots replaced doctor’s appointments. It seems that humanity can function great when robots take over, especially during the pandemic.
According to automation statistics, 2.25 million industrial robots are in use globally. Automation will also create 133 million jobs by 2022. What are the wonders of automation, and what industries will benefit the most?
What Is Automation?
Automation is defined as creating a machine, system, or process that automatically functions to monitor and control the production and delivery of products or services. It involves a range of technologies, including robots, AI, telemetry, communications, control sensors, wireless applications, etc.
How Is Automation Beneficial?
As labor-saving technology, automation enables increased productivity, efficient use of materials, improved product quality, and better workforce safety. Higher output and increased productivity can be considered the top benefits. Automation allows for more control and consistent quality of products or services.
What Industries Currently Use Automation?
Robots seem to be all around us. Even if we don’t see it, they probably made items that we use daily. Many industries rely on automation, such as the automotive industry, where robots do the heavy lifting. They work alongside humans to help them do more in less time. The automotive industry has been automated for decades and is one of the first industries to include more advanced tools in the manufacturing process.
Electronics manufacturing is another industry that turned to automation. Consumer electronics will never go out of style, and the market is evolving as the need is growing. Automation is used in circuit boards production, placement of electronic components, software and hardware tests, and packaging. It helps workers by minimizing the number of repetitive tasks in production.
The foodservice industry also jumped on the automation bandwagon, and it’s gaining momentum. From vending machines to fully robotic McDonald’s restaurants, food service is looking to take human service out of the equation. In McDonald’s case, robots work faster, and there’s less margin of error, no poor hygiene, or slacking off. There’s only a small team behind the scene that’s operating the robots. There’s also the possibility of automation in the kitchen—equipment can be programmed to cook instead of people.
Aside from these industries, what we see during the pandemic is the increased use of automated systems in healthcare, surveillance, data analysis, etc. Will this trend continue once the pandemic is over?
Post-COVID Era and New Opportunities
Some claim that the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the world toward automation. Even though many people lost their jobs, and others fear the reopening of their workplaces, the need for economic development won’t decline. This will prompt many industries to automate some processes and keep on doing the same in the future.
Healthcare is the first industry that’s already started implementing automation, and both clients and healthcare workers see its benefits. People worldwide use chatbots to check their health, and AI is analyzing the scans and triaging patients who might have the virus, which saves doctors’ time. Machine learning helps with big data analysis for the vaccine, and robots are disinfecting the hospitals. The automation in the healthcare industry has a lot of room to grow, and it probably will in the future.
Governments are automating unemployment applications. This type of automation allows for speed and accuracy in the claims handling process, which doesn’t leave the laid off employees waiting longer and risking poverty. The applications are processed 24 hours a day, and it improves citizens’ trust in the government. There’s no need to stop using automated systems for these types of tasks in the post-pandemic world.
Since many companies sent their employees home, they had to turn to automation in customer service. Like healthcare, businesses use chatbots on their websites and apps to generate leads, answer questions, and provide basic assistance to customers. This trend will likely continue since chatbots provide instant assistance and improve the user experience.
It appears that automation will secure its place in the post-COVID era. Automation in many industries will result in reduced expenses and improved products or services. The question that remains is this: will automation in the post-COVID era leave people unemployed?
What Will People Do?
The main goal of automation was reduced demand for the workforce, in return providing people the freedom to do what they love, boost creativity, and enjoy life to the fullest. Some may say that automation will make many jobs obsolete, but others claim that new job positions will be created since humans still need to maintain the robots.
While physical labor, data processing, and data collection will probably be a robot’s job, humans will need to make decisions. They will analyze the collected information and use their skills to reach new heights. Since automation increases employees’ productivity, the chances are that the overall economy will benefit as many companies will see increased ROI. It seems that some jobs will stay in demand, but the time needed to do them will decrease, allowing people more freedom.
Where Automated Systems Shouldn’t Be Used
Even though automated systems seem perfect for all occasions, they shouldn’t be used at all times. These are some situations where automation can do more harm than good:
- When businesses don’t understand their buyers
- When the automated response is too generic
- When visitors should be turned into customers
For these interactions, human communication is a better way to connect with the consumer.
We’ve reached the stage of evolution where robots work alongside employees to achieve the best possible results. Automation is perfect for industries that need increased safety in the workplace, such as the automotive industry. Robots can perform repetitive tasks while keeping humans more productive. Automation can also provide immense help with the decision-making process.
The pandemic forced many industries to look for new ways of operating. This resulted in implemented automation in hospitals and hotels. Chatbots have almost replaced customer support, and artificial intelligence helps with patient triage. Even though many fear that automation will result in many lost jobs, chances are it will create new job opportunities, enabling people to live more productive lives after the pandemic.