While automated solutions have been commonplace in several sectors for a long time, automation is now emerging in virtually every industry. This has major benefits for employers and employees alike. In some cases, taking full advantage of these benefits may require updating skillsets.
Universally, people will have to become more adaptable and more interested in continuous education (companies are spending millions on retraining and education to help with that). But let’s take a look at the specific effects on a few industries.
The highly personal nature of healthcare means automation will be slow to supplement some medical tasks. However, automation excels at structured, predictable or repetitive tasks, as well as collecting and analyzing data. That means things like medical imagery analysis and dispensing medication can be handled by robots or AI.
Software is everywhere now—and healthcare professionals need to learn to use it. Basic digital skills are growing more integrated into everyday tasks. As a consequence of all this data, knowledge of cybersecurity basics is now essential (and healthcare companies should consider cybersecurity solutions like those from vendor Byos USA, Inc.). Workers should also practice healthcare entrepreneurship, keeping an eye out for new ways to solve problems.
Energy and Mining
Throughout the industry, employers are emphasizing digital literacy. Per a 2019 PWC survey of utility companies, data science and analytics is the number one skill in demand. Companies are looking to increase productivity through software, as a green energy provider did with AI-based, robotic process automation tools.
Workers should also get more comfortable with engineering tasks—those are where the most job openings are in Australia's mining industry. And as more countries shift to renewables, fossil fuel workers should familiarize themselves with solar and wind technology. According to the United States Department of Energy, the green energy sector grew by 4% in 2021, while jobs in fossil fuel declined by 12%.
The energy industry is also recognizing the value in harnessing data to improve operations. IT services like those offered by exhibitor Robosoft can make life easier as employees adjust.
Farmers are no strangers to automation. Central pivot irrigation, for example, has been around for decades. But automation has recently grown far more sophisticated. Nowadays, you can control a pivot—or check soil moisture levels, or direct drones—right from your tablet. Farmers need to know how to operate and maintain these new pieces of equipment and ensure their staff have a baseline understanding of it as well. Data analytics is rapidly becoming more important, too. Consider the sheer number of Internet of Things (IoT) connections in agriculture, which reached nearly 50 million in the EU in 2022. That’s a lot of smart technology. Much of it is capable of sharing and analyzing all kinds of data, from local weather patterns to the color of the soil. Growers who want to stay competitive should get comfortable gathering a lot of data and leveraging AI to process it. And heavily automated farms should seek out easy robot productivity tools, like those from our exhibitor MassRobotics.
As robots take over more and more jobs on the production floor, automotive professionals need to shift their focus from working alongside the robots to supervising them. That’s what happened at an almost fully autonomous Nissan plant. Robots do the grunt work; employees perform maintenance and data analysis. This requires a higher level of digital literacy and comfort with engineering than in the past—although solutions like those offered by exhibitor Convergent Information Technologies can assist with programming.
Software like the Industrial Internet of Things platform from Automation Intellect may soon be part of everyday tasks. And given the increase in electric vehicle manufacturing—up to 18% of total car sales for 2023, according to the IEA—workers must add working with batteries and electric engines to their list of skills.
Programming is growing important as well. Automakers aren’t just using software to help build cars. Increasingly, software is itself an important part of them—from something as basic as the digital speedometer to advanced in-car entertainment systems. Not to mention the coming rise of autonomous cars, a market which is projected to grow by $931.34 billion dollars by the end of 2023—and will require a good amount of programming knowledge. Future automotive employees may find themselves working with machine learning tools and human-machine interfaces as much as they do with lug nuts.
Food and beverage
From butchering and processing all the way to the restaurant cooler, many areas in the food and beverage industry have embraced automation. AI in food and beverage alone is projected to grow to a whopping $35.42 billion dollars in the next five years. On the front end, you’re almost guaranteed to have paid for dinner at your table using the waiter’s mobile point-of-sale tablet. This turn towards digitization is industry-wide. Per a survey from Deloitte and the Food Industry Association, the most in-demand skills for workers in this environment will be digital.
Think about those point-of-sale systems. Workers in every field need to familiarize themselves with technological solutions for everyday tasks. Robotics come into play all over the industry too, as seen both in meat processors experimenting with automated cutting and grocery stores deploying AMRs. And food and beverage companies are investing heavily in data analytics—as PepsiCo has done to tackle supply chain issues. From the factory floor to the sales desk, workers need to orient themselves towards digital solutions. (Our exhibitor CyberGear can help factories with that.)
These are exciting times. Every year, businesses are finding new ways to leverage automation and AI. Workers are getting access to more and more solutions—and expanding their skillsets to match. Join us in Chicago, IL, from May 6–9, 2024 to see the latest automation technologies in person and, in the cases of Motion Control and Machine Vision, get certified in using them. Register for the Automate Show FREE today!
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