Work in the age of modern technology. Where is the place for humans?

Work in the age of modern technology. Where is the place for humans?

The World is on the verge of another industrial revolution. There are more and more factories in which processes are fully automated. Technological progress undoubtedly makes enormous savings and quality improvement possible but it can also undermine the position of man in the industry.

What is industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 slogan appears more and more often. It is visible not only in science-fiction-like visions, but also in relation to the current trend in Europe and the whole World. "Industry 4.0" also called integrated industry, is based on process automation and data processing and exchange.

According to the 4.0 concept future factories will rely on the full integration of all machines, devices, IT systems and techniques, business processes and information sources used in the production process. All areas of manufacturing companies will be merged into intelligent networks which will supervise each other and regulate optimal pathways of product development.

The best proof that it is time for another technological revolution is the fact that Germany already has "smart factories". Many companies already use technologies such as big-data analyses, assisting systems or robotics. Human work is also replaced by a range of intralogistic solutions which allow for the automation of warehouses.

When will "industry 4.0" come to majority of factories and warehouses, what will be the role of humans in industry and logistics?

For and against

There are many opinions about this – according to some experts the number of positions will not change or will even increase. Others say that many people will lose their jobs.

Out of nearly two thousand experts asked for feedback on this topic by the Pew Research Center (2014) almost half (48%) were of the opinion that the widespread use of machines will result in job losses.

The rest believed that the total number of job positions will ultimately not change or will even increase – however, even they were indicating that technology would lead to disappearance of many professions or a sharp decline in demand for them. Despite that, new professions and industries will be created.

Forklift driver – endangered species?

Peter Duss, head of the Swiss company Xelog Ag which offers intralogistic solutions, believes that soon logistic companies will not need to hire forklift drivers. They will be replaced by autonomous systems for transporting goods. However, Duss sees this as a chance for both the entrepreneur and the employee. According to him digital transformation will allow for creation of new jobs – implementation, operation and maintenance of systems.

Further training will be essential for employees

Not to be out of the circulation both entrepreneurs and employees will have to keep up. To keep up with the changes they will have to train and acquire new skills which will allow them to prosper in a new, automated environment.

What do you think? Will the 4th industrial revolution lead to higher unemployment or reduce it?