It gets worse. Included in that 73% bracket are glaziers and window fitters. This information comes as part of a wider feature across the BBC which is exploring Artificial Intelligence. A week after Sky News’ own robotics feature.
Could glazier, fabricators and fitters be replaced?
I’ll be honest, when I saw that these groups had a 73% chance of being replaced by robots, well it got me thinking about how it would work.
We have to imagine the possibilities with the technology that is available right now. This is the most modern minute, and things like driver-less cars are about to hit the roads. Is it totally inconceivable that a machine could do the job of a window fitter?
Think about the automation already in some of our window and door factories. There is already a lot of machinery doing a lot of work that people will have done a decade or two ago. Then look at some of the most modern factories in the world right now, there are very few people working in there. A lot of the work being done by machines, eradicating human error.
The technology is out there for robots to fit very intricate, tiny parts, into very specific places. Is it impossible to think that one day there will be a machine capable of fitting a window into an opening?
In short, this day is very far off. There are way too many impracticalities which machines and robots would not be able to cope with.
One very good example would be the weather. How good would a machine cope in pouring rain, when there is mud all around and there is a new-build estate that really needs windows fitting into the openings? I can’t imagine very well. It’s not nice working in conditions like that, but people would do it better.
There is however one field included in this report that I think could seriously threaten people’s jobs in the future and that is in window and door fabrication. The whole process from order to delivery is becoming more automated as we speak. Already orders for doors can be placed online, with that order going straight into production without any involvement of a human being.
I don’t think it’s impossible to imagine a window and door fabrication facility that is fully automated up to the point of delivery. We’ll still need humans for that bit. Until driver-less lorries become a thing.
Good or bad?
Is the rise of the machines a good thing? Depends on who you ask.
If you’re someone buying from a fabricator who can tell you that their factory is fully automated, with human error taken out of the equation meaning every order is perfect every time, then it’s happy days.
It’s is definitely not happy days if you are the person whose job has been lost in place of a machine. For the factory, however, machines which could do the job of fabrication would mean lower wage bills, less cash paid out to cover mistakes. It could even mean quicker lead times, and more units made per week. Still means jobs lost though, and the loss of people from a factory would mean a loss of creativity, camaraderie and atmosphere that only people can bring to a factory.
The whole of UK manufacturing is entering an interesting phase, where it will want to use technology to help make their jobs and products better, but they won’t necessarily want it to replace them long term. For glazier and fitters, I think your jobs are safe for a while longer yet.