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August 21, 1987 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-08-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Gauging The Impact

Von Logan, director of the
Bureau of Research and Statistics
for the Michigan Employment
Security Commission says it is
hard to determine the impact of
robotics on Michigan jobs. "My
feeling is that estimates of the jobs
needed by robotics were vastly
overrated, and the growth of
automation has been slower than
first predicted. One example would
be GM. It has reduced its commit-
ment to its robotics supplier .. .
"Certainly there are less
manufacturing and automobile
jobs than there were at the last
peak we had in 1979 but there are
more than in 1982. I feel that we
will not go back to the numbers we
had in 1972, and in the field of the
auto industry, we will gradually
decrease more. New plants are be-
ing built even as others close. Over
the long run, manufacturing
employment will stay flat or
possibly decline a little. From 1979
through 1990, 100,000 manufac-
turing jobs will be lost. But overall,
higher employment will be seen."
Not all the impact from im-
proved technology has been
negative in the U.S. An awareness
has grown recently of the problems
of illiteracy in this country — a pro-

the quality of the product to be
sacrificed. That's in our agreement."
ORT has certain rights in the
agreement to approve contracts with
customers and training material.
ACTT delivers the product, says
Brown, and ORT has the rights to
audit how it works.
Students in the program learn at
a work station where a desk is set up
with a "working automated in-
dustrial environment." The work sta-
tion includes an industrial simulator
— a tabletop sized automated sorting
packing station. With this the
students can control the integrated
components of industrial systems —
robots and machinery — with a cen-
tral computer according to programs
they plan themselves.
Also at the work station are train-
ing robots of basic - and intermediate
difficulty. Students learn to program,
store and combine robot movements
and sequences, fully integrating them
with the other computer-controlled
equipment at the station.
The futuristic equipment includes
industrial-standard robotic sensors
and actuators, plus an interface unit
and a microcomputer. The interface
unit can be linked to many input and
output devices and they can all be

blem that many workers in in-
dustry could hide in a mindless job,
year after year, on the assembly
like at an automobile plant or
some other manufacturer.
ACTT plans to have 100 work
stations in place by the beginning
of 1988, primarily in the Midwest.
Joseph Harmatz is director-
general of the World ORT Union in
London, which developed the
forerunner of the ACTT .program.
He says technology training has
had a tremendous impact in
England. "It has been very signifi-
cant to the local employment work
force. Many thousands of people
have been trained. There's a very
positive outlook from the teachers
in schools in England.
"The British government has
asked ORT to develop 20 technical
colleges. The idea of the training is
accepted by both industry and
government. You see, the Prime
Minister, Margaret Thatcher,
wants British industry to be able
to compete with Japanese and Ger-
man technology."
"We are increasing and
developing all the time. We are
designing new courses in lasers,
fiber optics and such."
— R.K.


controlled by a standard microcom-
puter. Students learn to program the
interface unit with easy-to-use
Students beginning the program
are tested for competency in reading
and math, and comprehension in
other concepts.
"The testing enables the instruc-
tor to look at someone's skills before
the person enters the program and
see if there's an area that'll cause pro-
blems, and teach that skill before it's
really called for," says ACTT trainer
Sue Ellen Broder. "The manuals are
written in very 'friendly' terms. The
language is very direct, and there are
lots of pictures and diagrams."
"I had no computer background at
all;' says Broder. "It was interesting
for me when I underwent the train-
ing to see the progress. On the one
hand I really wanted to learn about
computers and start working with
them, but on the other hand it was all Dr. David Vernon explains the use of a keypad which moves the industrial simulation robot.
new technology, and I was very fear-
ful of it. But once I started I couldn't
wait to get into it, hook up that Arm- students proceed at their own pace. work situations where instead of the
droid and be able to work with that, Up - to three students can work assembly line concept, the team idea
and then move on to what we call the together at a work station, and one of is in force. The team concept requires
Smart Arms, which are more precise the first tasks teaches them how to good communications skills and
ACTT's program encourages this with
work on a project as a group.
The program is self-directed —
This correlates with many current hands-on training.



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