Sharp Executive Says Plan for Foxconn LCD Plant in U.S. is Still 'On The Table'

Mitchel Broussard for MacRumors:  Foxconn and Sharp are looking closer than ever to building a manufacturing plant within the United States, according to one Sharp executive who said that the plan is still "on the table" (via Nikkei). The plant would mainly be focused on the manufacturing of LCD panels for TV sets and home appliances, but Foxconn is said to be considering moving iPhone production stateside as well.  The news continues a rumor from last year born out of President-elect Donald Trump's comments on wanting Apple to make its products stateside. Foxconn laid out plans for such a move in December, along with Japan-based SoftBank Group, with each company hoping to create a combined 100,000 jobs in the U.S. over the next four years.    Cont'd...

Japan's Rust Belt Counting on Robonomics to Run Assembly Lines

Yoshiaki Nohara, Toru Fujioka, and Daniel Moss for Bloomberg:   A withering factory town in Japan’s Rust Belt is looking for revival through a dose of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s "robot revolution." Kadoma’s population has declined 13 percent as the nation ages, prompting mergers among elementary schools and emergency services departments. Factories can’t find enough people to run assembly lines, further threatening an industrial base that includes titan Panasonic Corp. and smaller businesses like Izumo Co., a maker of industrial rubber. Yet Izumo President Tsutomu Otsubo doesn’t believe the solution involves finding more people. He’d rather find more machines to do the work so his company can capitalize on Abe’s plan to quadruple Japan’s robotics sector into a 2.4 trillion yen ($20 billion) industry by 2020.   Cont'd...

Seven Career Paths Opening With the Industrial IoT

Joe McKendrick for RTInsights:  From maintenance experts to solution sellers, the industrial IoT offers numerous career opportunities. If you’re looking for an IoT career, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) doesn’t sound quite as glamorous as the broader IoT, which promises smart homes, smart cars, smart cities, wearable sensors, and everything else that can be outsmarted in daily life. But for IoT careers, industry is actually where most of the action will be taking place, and when you drill down and look what’s happening, a lot of this work can be far more rewarding and impactful than building smart toasters. This encompasses a range of activities, from real-time tracking tools and parts at industrial sites to analyzing data coming in from machinery, engines and power plants. The sky’s the limit.   Cont'd...

Robots won't kill the workforce. They'll save the global economy.

Ruchir Sharma for The Washington Post:   The United Nations forecasts that the global population will rise from 7.3 billion to nearly 10 billion by 2050, a big number that often prompts warnings about overpopulation. Some have come from neo-Malthusians, who fear that population growth will outstrip the food supply, leaving a hungry planet. Others appear in the tirades of anti-immigrant populists, invoking the specter of a rising tide of humanity as cause to slam borders shut. Still others inspire a chorus of neo-Luddites, who fear that the “rise of the robots” is rapidly making human workers obsolete, a threat all the more alarming if the human population is exploding. Before long, though, we’re more likely to treasure robots than to revile them. They may be the one thing that can protect the global economy from the dangers that lie ahead.   Cont'd...

Trump promises to bring back manufacturing jobs, but robots won't let him

Lora Kolodny for TechCrunch:  For Americans struggling with stagnant wages, under- or un-employment, one of Donald Trump’s most appealing campaign promises was to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. Navigating the complexities of policy, tariffs and geopolitics would make that hard enough already for the president elect. But technology will make this promise nearly impossible to fulfill. Why? Because manufacturing jobs are increasingly done by robots, not people. Robotics have already helped reduce reliance on labor overseas for manufacturers in automotive, electrical and electronics industries, according to a fresh policy report from the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development.  Cont'd...

Manufacturing's Productivity Myth

Justin Fox for Bloomberg:  The U.S. manufacturing sector is far from the basket case it is sometimes made out to be on the campaign trail. But it's important to realize that it isn't exactly going gangbusters, either. The everything's-OK line about U.S. manufacturing goes something like this: Yes, lots of manufacturing jobs (7.3 million, to be precise-ish) have been lost since employment in the sector peaked in 1978, but real manufacturing output is at an all-time high. So the manufacturing sector is doing fine -- it's just that thanks to automation and other technological advances it has gotten much more productive and thus doesn't need as many workers.   Cont'd...

How to Attract Millennials to Advanced Manufacturing Jobs

Tony Oran for Quality Digest:  In an age where popular technology careers are only seen as attractive if they are based in Silicon Valley or offered by the latest and greatest startup companies, the manufacturing industry must make changes to attract bright and talented Millennials. The numbers clearly illustrate this need. Baby Boomers currently make up a large part of the manufacturing workforce. With many workers expected to retire in the coming decade, there will be nearly 3.5 million jobs to fill, according to Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute. Millennials have now overtaken Baby Boomers as the most populous generation, making them one of the largest pools of talent for employers. Quantity, however, does not always translate to quality. Employers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill available openings, and it’s a trend companies are seeing regardless of sector.   Cont'd...

New Partnership to Define and Map the Future of Digital Manufacturing Jobs in the United States

The work is part of a broader national initiative overseen by the Department of Defense and other federal agencies to fuel the development of next generation production capabilities and bring jobs back to the United States.

Rise in Robotics Requires New Tax Approach, EU Report Warns

Linda A. Thompson for Bloomberg:  European lawmakers warn that the growing use of robots and artificial intelligence may cause job losses across the continent, threatening to result in plummeting tax revenues if current tax frameworks aren't revised to account for the rise of the robotic workforce. Practitioners told Bloomberg BNA that taxing robots as “electronic persons,” as the EU contemplates in a recent report, would hinder innovation and that other ways of taxing the value that robotics create should be explored. The recent European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs draft reportrecommends the European Commission adopt a resolution to require companies to report on “the extent and proportion of the contribution of robotics and AI to the economic results of a company for the purpose of taxation and social security contributions.” Its first paragraph references Frankenstein, and comes amid mounting concerns that the rise in automation and artificial intelligence in the workplace will fundamentally alter economies, destroy jobs and jeopardize social welfare programs such as social security.   Cont'd...

Companies, employees not quite ready for cognitive technology wave of robotics, AI, machine learning

Larry Dignan for Between the Lines:  Robots, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other cognitive technologies will replace about 7 percent of U.S. jobs by 2025 with office and administrative staff taking the biggest hit, according to a Forrester Research forecast. The bad news is jobs will be lost. The good news is that new gigs will be created as cognitive technology takes hold. One reason the disruption won't be larger or happen sooner is that companies aren't ready for the change related to the new automated workforce, said Forrester. Among the key items: 16 percent of U.S. jobs will be replaced, but 9 percent of jobs will be created. That's how Forrester gets to the 7 percent job loss by 2025 figure. Emerging jobs will be robot monitoring pros, data scientists, automation specialists and content curators. 93 percent of automation technologists feel unprepared to take on smart machine technologies. 83 percent saw cognitive computing as critical to their companies' future. 32 percent of respondents said they are prepared for the cognitive technology changes ahead, but only 12 percent are prepared to deal with the human and organizational fallout. 46 percent say the number of jobs will remain about the same and 43 percent of respondents thought jobs would decline. Full Article:

SME Launches High School Membership Program to Build the Manufacturing Workforce Pipeline

With an anticipated skills gap of 2 million jobs by 2025, the manufacturing industry needs to attract and inspire the next-generation workforce

Foxconn Replaces 60,000 Labourers With Robots in China

Subhrojit Mallick  for GIZMODO India:   Apple and Samsung phone manufacturer, Foxconn has already taken a step towards the dystopian future. The South China Morning Post reported the manufacturing giant has replaced 60,000 laborers with robots. The total strength of Foxconn factory workers reduced from 110,000 to 50,000, marking a huge shift towards automation of routine jobs.  The Foxconn technology group confirmed to the BBC that they are automating many of the manufacturing tasks associated with their operations by introducing robots. However, they maintained the move will not affect long-term job losses.    Cont'd...

SME Survey Results Show Parental Misconceptions of Manufacturing Careers

The results show that parents do not necessarily have the most up-to-date information or perspective on manufacturing and the opportunities available.

Quadrant CEO Says Automation Creates More Jobs Than It Replaces by 2:1

Despite alarmist predictions to the contrary, the development of newer and better ways to do things will lead to broader employment, better jobs and increased prosperity, per Quadrant Information Services CEO Michael Macauley.

Robots: A New Kind of Manufacturing Workforce

Improving the effectiveness of small and medium manufacturers could help stimulate the economy and drive job creation. Adding robotic employees to the manufacturing mix might just make manufacturers in the United States more competitive with their counterparts in Asia.

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