Friday Five – 4/7/17

The Friday Five is a set of five links that I have come across this week that pertain to ergonomics, occupational health, safety, human performance, or human factors.  For whatever reason, I found them interesting, but they are provided with minimal or no commentary and are not meant to be endorsement for a given product or research paper.

One of the topics in the news of late that I find to be interesting is the incorporation of new technologies into the automation of the workplace.  These articles are all current as of this week.

A Dallas, Texas based landscaping company has added 50 lawn cutting robots to its workforce with plans to add another 50 to 100 robots each month.  These Roomba style robots for the yard are rented to customers on a monthly basis.

Michael Chui, James Manyika, and Mehdi Miremadi from the McKinsey Quarterly provide a breakdown on which areas of the workforce machines are able to now replace human workers.  The article breakdown the five criteria for replacement of human workers by automation: technical feasibility, cost to automate, benefits of automation, scarcity of skilled workers to perform the task, and the acceptability of automating the position.

Adam C. Uzialko of Business News Daily provides a solid reminder that workplace automation is not solely the realm of robots performing tasks.  Some of the recently automated tasks that he discusses include the logistics associated with looking for and screening new hire candidates.

Locus Robotics has developed warehouse technology that does not replace human selectors but works alongside humans.  Human selectors patrol areas of the DHL warehouse to place requested items in the Locus Robot which roams the warehouse.  In theory, this reduces the amount of walking that human workers perform as the robot takes up that part of the task.  Locus Robotics current solution is finding the areas that allow humans and robots to complement each other rather than replace ach other as they find this to be more cost effective.

3-D printing of clothing might help to send people back to the retail stores for purchasing of clothing instead of purchasing clothing online.  Ministry of Supply is a clothing brand that is introducing custom 3-d printed clothing to its stores.  This allows for clothing that is custom fit to the end purchaser as well as generating less waste materials due to the 3-d printing method.


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