PD_Packaging Digest

PD West Pack Insider, February 2013

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9 Westpack SHOW INSIDER 2013 // www.PackagingDigest.com A manufacturing renaissance in North America Advances in automation technologies continue to fuel efficiencies on the packaging line, helping to bring some previously off-shored production back to the U.S. Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor On Jan. 13, 2013, "60 Minutes" aired a segment titled "March of the Machines" that asked—and answered—the question "Are robots hurting job growth?" MIT professors Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson say yes. Although manufacturing has picked up a bit in the U.S. since the Great Recession, what hasn't returned to its former glory is the number of jobs—partly because of technology and increased automation. "There are lots of examples of routine, middle-skilled jobs that involve relatively structured tasks, and those are the jobs that are being eliminated the fastest," Brynjolfsson says. "Those kinds of jobs are easier for our friends in the artificial intelligence community to design robots to handle them. They could be software robots; they could be physical robots." According to "60 Minutes," the high- tech industry has contributed enormous productivity and wealth to the American economy but surprisingly little in the way of employment. Proponents of the automation industry beg to differ. Jeff Burnstein, president of the Assn. for Advancing Automation (A3), counters, "While the '60 Minutes' depiction of how technological advances in automation and robotics are revolutionizing the workplace was spot on, their focus on how implementation of these automation technologies eliminates jobs could not be more wrong. We provided [the] producers several examples of innovative American companies who have used automation to become stronger global competitors, saving and creating more jobs while producing higher quality and lower cost products, rather than closing up shop or sending jobs overseas. They unfortunately chose not to include these companies in their segment. With respect to MIT Professors Brynjolfsson and McAfee who gave their viewpoint in the piece, they are missing the bigger picture." According to Henrik Christensen, KUKA chair of robotics and director of robotics at Georgia Institute of Technology, "Studies have shown that 1.3 better, higherpaying jobs are created in Continued on page 10

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