There is a common understanding among some people that (mobile) automation is taking away the jobs of our human workforce. Workers are being replaced by machines because companies and respective clients need to work more efficiently to ensure ever-shrinking global margins in the construction industry.
However, when shedding light on this interesting topic, there are more factors that drive global (mobile) automation. One important factor is the lack of a human workforce.
Let’s look at one of the leading countries in mobile automation and robotization: Japan
JAPAN – demographics 2022
Japan's population has been declining since 2009. In 2009, the population was 128.56 million and since has decreased to 124 million today in 2022. The population is expected to fall below 100 million by 2058. The main cause of Japan’s population decline is the rapidly decreasing number of births, which is currently at the lowest it has been since data started being collected in 1899. The fertility rate in Japan is 1.4 births per woman – far below the population replacement of 2.1. (Source)
Already 6 years ago, Japanese leaders decided to tackle their population growth challenge and subsequent loss of workforce in their earthmoving sector by introducing ICT – Intelligent construction technology. The Sectors include planning, construction & maintenance related to Railways & Roads, Airports & Harbors, Flood control & daily infra (Energy & Utilities etc) Without the support of mobile automation, Japan would already face a severe shortfall in qualified workers and human resources
If you remember the first Terminator movie, Sarah Connor gets chased by a robot- Arni, the terminator, sent from the future to kill her and consequently her son John Connor. In fact, the leading countries of mobile automation have a different problem. They don’t have enough workforce to literally do the job. E.g. looking back at “The Terminator” - Sarah Connor did not make enough John Connors to cover for future jobs. We need Arni to help us dig foundations, pave our roads and survey our farming fields. (Inspired by Source)
Next to the challenges of having less (qualified) workers to, JETRO – Japan’s External Trade Organisation has identified that” people's activities are expected to move from physical space to cyberspace”. (Source) That means qualified people will be expected to work their job remotely and with increasing investment in augmented and virtual reality, this outlook in the working environment of tomorrow is closer to reach than ever before.
Mobile Automation and remote technology appliances will ensure that future work safety standards will raise to a new level. If Humans can work in hazardous environments without actually being there, the risk of Injuries and death can be completely avoided. It also enables to centrally support of decentralized locations. If physical appearances of service & product experts are no longer needed, humans have the chance to develop places that are yet in no physical reach.
Summarizing the findings above, we can identify 3 main factors that drive global automation; increasing efficiency, lack of qualified staff & change of the workplace.
Finally, let’s all hope the future of mobile automation is more positive than painted by James Cameron’s original Terminator.