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Automation in industry: Bleaching the blue collar: Computerization can increase workers' output, but it may also distance product designers from assembly and process requirements

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1 Author(s)
Harley Shaiken ; Massachusetts Institute of Technology

At first glance, there appears to be an enormous contrast between the Chrysler Corp's Jefferson Avenue plant, an aging assembly facility built in 1907 on Detroit's now deteriorating East Side, and the John Hancock Building, a gleaming glass and steel skyscraper near one of Boston' s poshest neighborhoods. Inside, however, new forms of automation, based on computers and microelectronics, are being used to transform both. At the Jefferson Avenue plant, robots accomplish 98 percent of the welds on new car bodies automatically, while at John Hancock, word processors and other electronic office technologies are laying the basis for a restructured office. The exploding technical capabilities of these new machines and systems, combined in many cases with their plummeting costs, are extending automation to every sector of the economy.

Published in:

IEEE Spectrum  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 6 )