Should we be concerned about the impact of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence on our working environment in the future? Will machines replace many of our jobs over the coming years? Fear is not the best response to this new era of digitalization. The digital revolution already well underway calls for a levelheaded analysis and a good dose of courage as businesses and their employees face the many new challenges that lie ahead.
The figures sound alarming. A study by the University of Oxford predicts that 47 percent of jobs in the United States could be automated over the next two decades, including traditional white-collar jobs such as accountants and loan officers. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), 71 percent of working hours worldwide are currently performed by human beings and 29 percent by machines. Machines could take the lead as early as 2025, with only 48 percent of the work carried out by people, and 52 percent by machines.
Can modern technology create new work?
The idea that technology destroys jobs is an old one. In the early 1930s, the renowned economist John Maynard Keynes already warned of the unemployment that technological progress would create. He believed a 15- hour working week was in the cards. As we now know, he was wrong. So far, new technologies have created more jobs than they have rendered obsolete. Take the US for example: In February 2017, about 146 million people had a job – 205 percent more than in 1970 when computers were practically unknown. Over the same period, the US population grew by only around 60 percent.
A recent WEF study on the future of work predicts that new technologies will create more than 58 million additional jobs over the next five years. How do experts from business and academia see the future of work? moving asked several for their views.
How do experts assess the working world of the future? Interroll requested an answer:
“In times of permanent change, further education and lifelong learning will be essential to people’s employability, enabling them to adjust to the digital revolution. High in demand in the future will be cross-sectional skills such as teamwork, analysis, creativity and leadership, as well as technical expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Although automation is regarded as a threat to the working world, we should all also see this development as an opportunity to improve our emotional intelligence and one that will play an important role in occupations that involve communication, decision making, negotiation and support.”
Jessie Pallud, Professor of Information Systems EM Strasbourg Business School, France
“As a globally operating transport and logistics company, we facilitate access to goods and progress. We use digitalization and automation and invest in new technologies. We are interested in how technology can improve and support processes and the work of our employees, for example, with robot companions or augmented reality. Careers will continue to change in the future, but for us it’s clear that people will be at the center of everything. We have around 520,000 employees in 220 countries worldwide – diversity makes a big contribution to the success of our company.”
Thomas Ogilvie, Head of Human Resources and Corporate Incubations Deutsche Post DHL Group, Germany
“New technologies will create more jobs overall but, at the same time, make simple, recurring tasks redundant. Everyone increasingly will need to boost their personal skills and determine what career fulfillment means to them. To capitalize on this trend, business leaders need to recognize the individual talents of their employees instead of just expecting them to carry out instructions. It may never be achievable but there is a vision of a future without a ‘bad boss’ and reluctant workers. There are already numerous companies today that allow their employees to take ownership and work independently.”
Bart Friederichs, Managing Director TBWB, Netherlands
Interroll introduces new oil-free drum motor
Interroll is now introducing a new version of its oil-free drum motor based on the new and improved Interroll Drum Motor Platform.
Already back in 2010 Interroll introduced the first oil-free drum motors. Since then, thousands of oil-free motors have been installed and are currently in use as a proven solution for many applications, in particular in the food industry. The oil-free drum motors now being introduced into the market are drum motors based on the new and improved Interroll Drum Motor Platform that has been on the market since 2017. Synchronous oil-free drum motors are by nature very efficient, which means less heat losses and a much higher power density, as opposed to asynchronous oil-free drum motors which are prone to overheating and power reduction and therefore loss in torque.
Compared to standard drum motors, the oil-free motor’s performance is only minimally impacted by the different type of lubrication. Also, compared to a standard asynchronous motor, oil-free synchronous motors are stronger and better performing. But they require a frequency inverter and speed and torque are slightly reduced compared to a standard synchronous motor lubricated with oil. However, high-speed applications are still possible if the belt pull force is sufficient. This is also true for low-speed applications. Typical oil-free motor applications include transportation and packaging of lightweight goods such as candy, chocolate or pralines.
No leakage issues in sensitive production processes
Food manufacturers who have to comply with certain restrictions regarding food contamination benefit from this new option. Oil-free drum motors can be used for any application where the belt moves slowly (i.e., when the production process is in steps and accuracy is of paramount importance, like portioning and cutting for instance). When installed correctly, Interroll Drum Motors have no leakage issue. The oil-free drum motor makes the entire production flow safer as it eliminates any potential risk of oil contamination. It works well in cool temperatures, which are often a requirement in the food manufacturing sector. In certain industries such as fish processing, the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) recommends the use of oil-free motors.
New MCP conveyor system for perfect material handling
The Italian e-commerce company ePRICE is feeling the effects of the steady growth in online trade. In response to the rising demand, a new warehouse was to be built which would also be ideally equipped to meet future challenges of material handling. Ideal conditions for Interroll’s modular conveyor platform MCP which offers customers plenty of scope for flexibility.
ePRICE is a leading Italian e-commerce retailer. The company offers a comprehensive product portfolio, particularly for the online sale of household technologies and appliances. To ensure a reliable and punctual delivery at the buyers, the system integrator Incas S.p.A. integrated a complete logistics system for the new distribution center. Directly on the doorstep of Milan in Trucazzano (Italy). And with Interroll as its technology partner and the mission of installing a platform that is efficient, automated and modularly scalable.
Strong growth in the e-commerce market
The decisive factor for the new warehouse was the strong growth figures that the Italian e-commerce market recently recorded: Compared to 2017, sales increased by 16%* – with an increase in the total value of online purchases to 23.6 billion euros*.
And since it is particularly important in the highly competitive online trade to map one’s own product catalog through perfect logistics processes, an automated warehouse enables efficient management for the provision of shipping packages. The fast and smooth delivery ultimately leads to higher customer satisfaction and good ratings, which is a strong factor for lasting market success for online retailers.
MCP Conveyor System manages volume increase easily
The new logistics system therefore needed a solution that could smoothly handle the expected increase in volume due to rising consumer demand. And since Interroll has the necessary products, technologies and experience, the system integrator Incas S.p.A. was pleased to have found a reliable partner to achieve its goals.
The ePRICE warehouse now uses Interroll’s Modular Conveyor Platform (MCP). It transports the pallets with the individual parcels not only in the warehouse, but also from the warehouse to the picking area, where they are combined in the initial phase for the individual orders. Weighing, strapping, reading the barcodes as well as printing and applying the labels are also carried out here. Interroll has also installed RM6008 elevators to provide access to several levels of the MCP. A highly efficient and long solution: the total length of the MCP conveyor system is almost one kilometer (920 meters). With a total of 10,150 conveyor rollers, 560 RollerDrive units and just as many photocells, it also has a large number of units.
Modular advantage for a future-proof solution
The great advantage of the new conveyor system installed at ePRICE is its high modularity: With the MCP conveyor platform, the e-commerce retailer benefits from a robust and versatile solution that combines various key components into a complete system that reliably masters all expected challenges. With the ability to easily and quickly add plug-and-play functionality to other pre-assembled components, ePRICE can meet further growth in an agile and dynamic way. All in all, it is a flexible, scalable and efficient material handling solution that makes ePRICE fit not only for today’s challenges, but also for tomorrow’s logistics challenges.
Advance SmartLine conveyor increases efficiency at ZyroFisher
ZyroFisher is one of the largest privately owned companies in the UK and Ireland for the distribution of bicycle accessories, spare parts and clothing. It distributes more than 50 leading brands worldwide, while at the same time supplying specialist dealers with its own Altura brand. The company is growing – more than 800 parcels go out every day. High demands on material flow had to be met with an innovative handling system: Advance SmartLine conveyors in combination with energy-efficient 24 V technology and the MultiControl from Interroll.
In the 9,000 m2 plant in Darlington, a lot of work was still required for shipping and packaging. Therefore, the required solution should transport the goods more efficiently from the packing area to dispatch. With the overriding goal of improving order processing, streamlining processes and increasing warehouse productivity.
Transport by roller conveyor to the shipping trailer
As a first step, ZyroFisher Advance commissioned Automated Systems Ltd. to evaluate the existing handling methods. The technicians’ modernization offer was a tailor-made SmartLine zone roller conveyor for transporting cartons of different sizes directly to the shipping trailer.
The next step was the installation of the zero-pressure accumulation conveyor system operated with energy-efficient 24 V technology. Perfectly matched with a quiet running RollerDrive EC310 Drum Motor and MultiControl control. As this is a four-zone controller, it was connected to up to four RollerDrive EC310 and four zone sensors and integrated directly at fieldbus level. It communicates in real time via PROFINET, EtherNet/IP and EtherCAT, which can be implemented with a simple setting on each MultiControl.
Simple and fast commissioning on site
Sensor or RollerDrive properties were configured via PLC software, a web interface or the Interroll teach-in process. With quick and easy on-site commissioning – on the one hand because automatic addressing was possible and on the other hand because the solution provides information on the sequence of all connected MultiControl or conveyor zones in the conveyor. Since no manual addressing or configuration is required, the components can now be easily replaced using plug & play technology.
Independent modules in the conveyor system
Each conveyor module of the Advance automation solution can be operated independently. They remain ready for product transport – only when containers have to be transported do they start moving. If necessary, the product can accumulate along the entire length of the conveyor system. In addition, the conveyor system is equipped with single-width lifting passages for pedestrians and escape routes and double-width for pallets. To ensure simple and safe lifting, gas springs are installed in all passages. An extendable roller conveyor is integrated for loading the trailer.
Most energy-efficient and economical method
Advance Automated Systems’ modernization project fits in perfectly with ZyroFisher’s operations using Interroll’s industry-leading 24V technology and controls. This results in an efficient flow of goods and increased throughput. The Advance SmartLine modular and flexible zero-pressure accumulation conveyor is the most energy-efficient and economical method for conveying cartons directly onto the shipping trailer. An innovative solution that, in combination with the Interroll components used, makes a major contribution to the success of ZyroFisher.
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