[lbo-talk] Junkyard dog hits Motown

Dwayne Monroe idoru345 at yahoo.com
Wed May 16 17:04:28 PDT 2007


Don't tell that to the NUMMI folks!



If you take a look at a 2005 dated image (see link below) from inside the NUMMI facility you may see a clue, part of the puzzle, which helps explain why US automakers have fallen so far behind -


At the head of the page, there's a photo of a Toyota Tacoma being partially assembled by industrial robots.

Such robots (along with the super Taylorization of the human labor force "Mr. WD" mentioned) surely play a major role in ensuring quality control. The Japanese have invested heavily in robotics of all sorts: everything from artificial dogs to prototype elder care units right on up to the heavy duty machine assembly bots used in auto plants.

US automakers' commitment to robotics has been tepid by comparison.

Indeed, even that middlebrow rag Time bemoaned the sorry state of American industry's use of robotics in in this 2001 published piece:

Limping Along In Robot Land

Once it was hailed as the ultimate manufacturing industry, an enterprise that would cut American labor costs, boost productivity and rack up as much as $4 billion in sales by 1990. Blue-chip giants stampeded to buy into the action; bankers panted to finance the heralded expansion. Optimism was seemingly unbounded for the U.S. robotics industry, which produced semi-intelligent machines that were expected to help American businesses compete with low-wage foreign rivals over the next two decades and to improve greatly the quality of American industrial production.

Well, that was five years ago. Rather than becoming the highly successful purveyor of tireless, reliable welders, assemblers and heavy lifters for the auto industry, aerospace and other industrial concerns, robotics today is an industrial accident victim, crippled by a two-year slump. Sales of U.S. robots are expected to decline from an anemic $580 million in 1986 to about $400 million this year, miles below those rosy billion-dollar projections. The number of manufacturers that make robots and related equipment dropped from 328 last year to 300 this year.



It seems we (Americans) do quite alright when it comes to sending robots to Mars or into an Iraqi's living room with a warhead at the tip but not so well with applying bots to everyday matters.


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