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Supply Chain Graphic of the Week: Where the Robots are Coming


McKinsey Takes a Deep Dive on What Jobs Can be Automate

July 14, 2016
SCDigest Editorial Staff

We all know the robots are coming, with a growing concern about the impact on the jobs market across the globe.

Robots overall generally means quite a broad swath of technologies, from machines that automate manufacturing to software that replaces the need for humans to perform tasks or make decisions.


The smart folks over at McKinsey recently took a very deep dive look at what that impact on jobs could be, estimating the amount of time spent at given types of tasks that could be automated with current technologies, as shown in the graphic below. It does this overall and then by specific industry sectors.


So, for example, McKinsey estimates that 78% of all predictable physical work in the US could be done with current robotic technologies, and 48% of that physical work specifically in the accommodations and food service sector could be automated. We're surprised there are more robotic sweepers already in use.

Two important points. First, just because something can be automated with a robot of coure does not mean it will be. For example, as McKnsey notes, "Replacing human cooks earning $10 per hour with expensive robots may be possible technically, but might not make business sense because it may cost too much and not provide a good return on investment."


But second, this analysis only considers currently available technologies. With those capabilities advancing very rapidly, almost in a Moore's Law type fashion, the percentages in the chart above will do nothing but rise if the effort is repeated in coming years.


How will this all play out? No one knows, but as McKinsey says, "Automation will fundamentally change the nature of organizations" - and we would add, the lot and roles of workers.

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