Could Robots Kill Asian Factory Jobs?

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Could Robots Kill Asian Factory Jobs?

Post by CEOCambodiaNews » Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:26 am

Article from today's SEA Globe magazine:

Advances in automation are fuelling fears that the rise of robots could drive millions of Asian factory jobs back to the West
WHY WE WROTE THIS: Because technological progress can change the shape of whole economies.
Andrew Haffner
October 9, 2019
Manufacturing change
Fully automated production lines could fundamentally change the face of Asia's manufacturing industry

Even on a warm Friday afternoon, the floor stammers with activity at Raytec’s garment factory in the west of the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

Some of the final products made here are stamped with logos for small-town organisations in the US heartland; others are limited-edition items for household name brands such as eyewear designer Oakley.

But not everything needs a human eye or hand, factory manager Kim van der Weerd said, nodding at a nearby computer screen.
“This used to be somebody’s job,” she said.

As she spoke, a graphic designer double-checked a virtual layout of garment panels arranged like puzzle pieces on what would eventually be a real-life scroll of paper.

While it gets approved by human staff before going to print, the arrangement was made entirely by a computer programme tasked with laying out as many panels as possible on a piece of material, maximising the number of eventual cut-outs while reducing waste.

Now, thanks to the help of programmes like this one used widely in the industry, the work of the arranger has been completely automated – though things still look a little more traditional in other rooms of the factory.

Sewers perch before their machines as fabric blurs between hand and needle while another group of workers sorts items by hand into individual orders, counting out whimsically patterned covers for high-end ski goggles and setting them aside for shipping. Elsewhere, staff stitch together apparel for Cambodia-based garment manufacturer Pactics – custom-printed goods for clients ranging from local sports teams to international brands selling athleisure goods such as leggings and lightweight tops.
Raytec staff put the final stitch to a work week at their factory near the Phnom Penh International Airport. Photo: Andrew Haffner

This kind of scene could be the future for the apparel sector, which in recent decades has forged a long supply chain linking low-wage producers, mostly in Asia, with higher-income consumers in Europe, Japan and North America.

But major apparel companies could soon have another option coming online. That potential difference-maker revolves entirely around automation, a process that replaces human labour with that of a machine. For the garment industry, a fully robotic manufacturing line could in theory work relentlessly spinning out clothing for as long as the power stays on.

They’re not much for personality, but robots never go on strike. Nor do they protest wages or working conditions or demand workers’ rights – the type of street action that has helped push Cambodia’s government into repeated local minimum wage hikes in recent years.

There are about 100 workers total at the Raytec factory doing everything from sewing to security. Busy as they are, they’re but a fragment of the workforce of approximately 800,000 people stitching up the Kingdom’s growing apparel sector. An International Labour Organization (ILO) report published in August stated the textiles, clothing and footwear (TCF) sector exports marked $6.3 billion and accounted for 78 percent of Cambodia’s total merchandise exports in 2015.

Across Asia, the ILO wrote, the TCF sector employs upwards of 40 million people making about $601 billion in exported goods.

But the rise of automation is leading many to question whether most of these jobs will even exist in a few years. And while automation is touted as bringing about an imminent revolution in manufacturing, it isn’t a new concept, with the earliest forays into machine production in the textile manufacturing that marked the early days of the Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom. Robot-assisted manufacturing has only grown since then and has come to form a pillar of modern productivity, perhaps most visibly in the automotive industry.
Full article: https://southeastasiaglobe.com/what-aut ... facturers/
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Equinix
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Re: Could Robots Kill Asian Factory Jobs?

Post by Equinix » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:01 am

Thia is the main reason I'm against the giant influx of immigrants getting into Europe.

In Europe they have been saying for decades. Don't have more babies, overpopulation blablabla...​ But now they need younger people to keep their pension system going.

Robots and computers are taking over left right and center and this will only continue.

An interesting future lies ahead of us =)
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Re: Could Robots Kill Asian Factory Jobs?

Post by IraHayes » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:20 am

“Could”??

It’s not could but how long till.
If you live long enough you will see science fiction become reality. How will people and society adapt? That’s the real question.
Idiocracy,the movie, may have jokingly predicted our future.
Or will we end up with a society more in line with that in the Star Trek movies??
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Re: Could Robots Kill Asian Factory Jobs?

Post by Anthony's Weiner » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:23 am

Automation threatening 25% of jobs in the US, especially the 'boring and repetitive' ones: Brookings study
One-quarter of American jobs are at a high risk of automation.
The disruption will hit certain people harder than others, including low-wage earners and men.

These are the findings of a new report by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, titled, Automation and Artificial Intelligence: How Machines Affect People and Places.
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Re: Could Robots Kill Asian Factory Jobs?

Post by Duncan » Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:15 am

I'm surprised it has not already happened. As an example take the ion-ore and the coal that Australia exports to China, where it is made into steel in a process that is or can be fully automated. Then much of it is imported back to Australia.

Am I the only idiot that thinks this whole process can be done in Australia and savings can be made on shipping, insurance and labour and done in a fully automated factory.
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Re: Could Robots Kill Asian Factory Jobs?

Post by CaptainNemo » Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:29 pm

Equinix wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:01 am
Thia is the main reason I'm against the giant influx of immigrants getting into Europe.

In Europe they have been saying for decades. Don't have more babies, overpopulation blablabla...​ But now they need younger people to keep their pension system going.

Robots and computers are taking over left right and center and this will only continue.

An interesting future lies ahead of us =)
Human labour is still cheaper for a lot of monotonous tasks, and immigration is a short-term way of keeping fragile growth figures up. There is no shortage of meatsacks available for monotonous tasks for very low rates all around the world. A better model would be neo-colonialism, where developed nations use developing ones in a symbiotic relationship to provide them with cheap labour and good on site, and in exchange improve their systems and standards (education, administration, health and welfare, infrastucture etc...), it worked quite well until the USA and USSR decided to turn the world into a giant geopolitical chessboard.

The issue with automation, is that it doesn't simply take away people's jobs it replaces lower quality jobs with higher quality jobs, as technology alwayshas. It increases the demand for skilled technicians and programmers, who are in incessant demand, and that will continue, as there is also a massive shortage of people to train such people. Attempts have been made to automate programming, to create computers that programme themselves, but the reality is that robots won't take over the world, they will simply take over the boring, difficult, and dangerous jobs, and work with humans, with humans retaining control.

The future divide may be between those who can code, and those who can't - a new level of literacy that challenges all humanity to raise it's game, especially as programmers can come from and be anywhere, be either gender, and be any age. If countries like India can undercut coders in the west, then it comes down to a culture war - which culture can create the most optimal conditions for creativity and innovation, and the west still has a lead in that respect. Asia might be growing a lot, but seems to have a dependency on western innovation and a need to replicate rather than innovate. They have money to pay westerners to train them though.
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Re: Could Robots Kill Asian Factory Jobs?

Post by AndyKK » Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:57 pm

Found this an interesting read -

As these disruptive technologies take hold, the perpetual quest of the Textile Industry for cheaper and cheaper labour sources seems set to end, as a new market dominated by customisation, personalisation and sustainability lays down the agenda for a new way forward.

https://www.texintel.com/blog/fespa-app ... g-textiles
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Re: Could Robots Kill Asian Factory Jobs?

Post by Jcml19 » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:00 am

CaptainNemo wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:29 pm
Equinix wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:01 am
Thia is the main reason I'm against the giant influx of immigrants getting into Europe.

In Europe they have been saying for decades. Don't have more babies, overpopulation blablabla...​ But now they need younger people to keep their pension system going.

Robots and computers are taking over left right and center and this will only continue.

An interesting future lies ahead of us =)

The future divide may be between those who can code, and those who can't - a new level of literacy that challenges all humanity to raise it's game, especially as programmers can come from and be anywhere, be either gender, and be any age. If countries like India can undercut coders in the west, then it comes down to a culture war - which culture can create the most optimal conditions for creativity and innovation, and the west still has a lead in that respect. Asia might be growing a lot, but seems to have a dependency on western innovation and a need to replicate rather than innovate. They have money to pay westerners to train them though.
Concur and agree with a good chunk of your points... Challenge is we cant spit out enough programmers at reasonable cost... Alotof the kiddies out of western schools wnt bookoo $$$... Dont get me wrong they are worth it but it impacts the bottom line n comps want the lowest labor rate
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Re: Could Robots Kill Asian Factory Jobs?

Post by CaptainNemo » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:06 am

Basically, the education system is designed for the 20th century, not the 21st. The curriculums are not relevant enough, and the modes of teaching are outdated; they recruit and retain teachers, not because the pay isn't enough but the pressure and bureacracy is excessive. The system, at least in the UK, and probably in many other places, is totally broken. I took my kids out of it, to train them myself, but then, I have that privilege of having taught myself years ago whilst playing truant from school.
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Re: Could Robots Kill Asian Factory Jobs?

Post by Freightdog » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:40 am

Duncan wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:15 am
I'm surprised it has not already happened. As an example take the ion-ore and the coal that Australia exports to China, where it is made into steel in a process that is or can be fully automated. Then much of it is imported back to Australia.

Am I the only idiot that thinks this whole process can be done in Australia and savings can be made on shipping, insurance and labour and done in a fully automated factory.
In my past-life as an engineer, I along with many colleagues, was dismayed at the amount of work that got out-sourced to China. To the extent that one company wrote its own demise in becoming more cost efficient for a short time.
The problem was not automation in this case, but quality control. The Chinese would massively reduce the unit cost of manufacture. Whole processes and product lines got sent to China, and production lines stopped in the UK. However, the wastage during manufacture due to reduced quality control accounted for about 50% of the savings.
Still good, according to the accountants.

What they didn’t account for was in service reliability, and therefore liability, which lay with the original company. Eventually, the company was reduced to a number of desirable designs and patents and got bought out and disappeared.

My dad’s employer faced a similar problem, but fortunately their deliberately diversified supplier base meant that they could see and compare before it became an insurmountable problem. As the tale goes, whole shipments of finished articles were scrapped. Fortunately, being steel, the scrap could be recycled straight way. They simply stopped doing quality control checks when the failure rate got to a certain point.

The Chinese can do it very well. But something in their gambling nature and couldn’t-give-a-damn attitude towards others meant that for every good supplier, there was at least an equal, and often greater number of shoddy ones.
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