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What effect has the implementation of Automation Technologies had on factory based employment in the United Kingdom: A Case Study.

This study was designed to examine the effects automation technologies have on factory based employment in the United Kingdom, utilising an international market leading food production case study. Cerestar UK, based in the North West of England manufactures starch derived Caramel Product in its new, recently automated Caramel Facility. The rationale of the study was formed from the common belief that such automation technologies are responsible for widespread migration patterns from industry to service sector employment.

Comprehensive interviews with Cerestar UKs Caramel Factory Manager and Aston Dane PLCs Automation Project Manager were conducted. Alongside this mixed style questionnaires were circulated to subjects at the very heart of this change, Cerestar UKs Caramel Plant machine operators. All subjects were asked how and why they feel such technologies were implemented, focussing on any positive or negative effects which have arisen from this.

All collected data was then analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods, and compared with a comprehensive literature review in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the relationship between automation technologies and employment.

Contents Chapter One: Introduction Page 1 The forming of the research rationale. Background and Context to the Study.

Chapter Two: Research Methods Page 3 Detailed description of Research Methodology. Justification for such Methodology. Description of Data Analysis Methodology.

Chapter Three: Literature Review Page 7 The body of written work produced by scholars or researchers in a given field (yourDictionary, 2003) Includes Automation Types Diagram Page 14

Chapter Four: Cerestar UK Page 15 About Cerestar UK and its new Trafford Park based Caramel Plant. About the role of Aston Dane PLC.

Chapter Five: Discussion Page 19 Analysed Research Data. Comparisons with Literature Review. Explanations and Interpretations. Includes Automation Types Diagram Page 26

Chapter Six: Conclusions Page 27 Summary of research outcomes. Brief Research Evaluation.

Research References Page 30

Research Log

Chapter One: Introduction

Research: creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture, and society and use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications (Frascati, 1993).

Automation: Any continuous and integrated operation of a production system that uses electronic or other equipment to regulate and coordinate the quantity and quality of production (Buckingham, 1961, p6). Benson et al (1983) writes Factory labour gradually evolved into the dominant method of production during the nineteenth century. However, The shift to service employment can hardly be denied. For example, in Britain, employment in services has grown from 53 per cent of total employment in 1971, to 73 per cent in 1993 (Employment Gazette 1994) (Compton et al, 1996). Heathcote (2000, p2) states, In the 1980s, thousands of factory workers were made redundant by the introduction of robots on the factory floor making everything from biscuits to cars today, most people no longer work in farms or factories but are found instead in sales, education, health care, banks, insurance firms and law firms knowledge and information work account for about 70% of the labour force in Britain. Many commentators argue the reasons for these migrations in employment, Benson et al (1983) feel such debates have raged since the 1950s, dividing those concerned into two distinct categories, technological determinists, Automation helps the promise of a future of new abundance, new leisure and new freedoms (Walter Reuthers, President of the United Automobile Workers Union, Speech, 1955) (Faunce 1968), and technological non-determinists, this machine evolution leads to the very situation feared: Automaticity grows until no operations are required: then what

employment opportunities exist in the factory? Only maintenance, set up, and design (Kaplinsky, 1984, p134). Furthermore, Bright (1958, p188) argues even these activities have become victims to automations pervasiveness. However, whatever the reasons it cannot be ignored that Britain during the latter quarter of the twentieth century underwent a process of deindustrialisation.

Matzner et al (1991, p3) feels there is however one certainty, the rapid diffusion of new technology exerts a strong impact on employment trends. It is these effects upon employment trends that formed the rationale for this research piece, utilising a case study focussing on a modern day implementation of automation technologies. Cerestar UK, based in Trafford Park, Manchester, is an international market leader of starch derived Caramel product, having recently undertaken outside consultancy provided by Aston Dane PLC to build a new, mostly automated Caramel Plant division, ultimately decommissioning the older manually operated plant. The initial aims of the Caramel Project were to provide a plant with a high level of automation using site standard technology whilst integrating the new plant into existing network infrastructures (Aston Dane PLC, 2002).

Alongside the case study a comprehensive literature review has also been conducted. This will assist in providing structure, focus, factuality and relativity to the aforementioned case study, examining and clarifying if such processes of thought remain valid and appropriate to a modern day implementation.

Chapter Two: Research Methods

Methods: A means or manner of procedure, especially a regular and systematic way of accomplishing something (yourDictionary, 2003).

After forming the rationale for this study, it became apparent that like all research pieces a great deal of literature reviewing was required, Verma et al (1981, p10) states that literature reviews help researchers identify and explain relevant relationships between the facts the researcher must produce a concept or build a theoretical structure that can explain facts and the relationships between them. Without referring to literature, it would be impossible to accurately draw comparisons, make predictions, support or refute arguments and ultimately evaluate research pieces.

However, whilst conducting the literature review, there were issues to be aware of, Katzer et al (1998, p5), suggests not all researchers or editors are equally knowledgeable or competent Many people, however, would underestimate the seriousness of the errors, assuming that small mistakes may be the problem. Such literature problems stem from authors lack of background knowledge, poor research practices, miscalculations or even outright bias. The extent of such problems are highlighted further, in a study of the quality of educational research, expert researchers evaluated a random sample of 81 articles they judged that only 7 percent of the articles were worthy of publication (Katzer et al, 1998, p5). Each article was therefore judged according to its own individual merits.

To compliment the literature review, it was the aim of this exercise to utilise an appropriate case study of Cerestar UKs Caramel division. This was done by questioning those employees directly affected by such implementations, utilising a mixed style of open and close ended questions, also conducting a short interview with the floor manager responsible for overseeing such changeovers, Kevin Oliver. An interview was also conducted with Shane Pugh, the project manager on behalf of Aston Dane PLC, the consultancy firm responsible for implementing the new Caramel Plant.

To extract appropriate data for the study alongside the literature review, the use of questionnaires were employed because Bell (1993), feels these can be simple and effective if utilised correctly, also containing the added bonus of collecting certain types of information quickly and relatively cheaply (Bell, 1993, p76). However Bell considers their usability to only be apparent after preliminary planning and consulting, therefore the scope for such methods was not finalised until the appropriate stages were complete. Bell also feels that it is extremely difficult to design a suitable questionnaire, suggesting many golden rules of effectiveness. Questionnaires by their very nature are also plagued by generally low response rates.

Interviews were also used, these are considered to be much more flexible to particular situations and yield higher response rates than questionnaires. As Bell (1993, p91) writes, A skilful interviewer can follow up ideas, probe responses and investigate motives and feelings, which the questionnaire can never do. Simple factors such as body language can initiate responses sometimes concealed through questionnaires; however many argue subjects can feel much less pressurised when completing a questionnaire alone as opposed to the interpersonal nature of interviews. Despite the

much greater depth and validity of an interview, they are considered to be extremely time consuming, more prone to biases and often require a high level of experience from the interviewer.

Because each method of research contains positive and negative aspects, both questionnaires and interviews were used. The interviews themselves were only conducted to two people, and were kept to an appropriate time limit to comply with constraints of the research piece. The questionnaires however were distributed to 24 employees within the Caramel Plant; this proved a much more efficient way of surveying a slightly larger sample.

An alternative to both questionnaires and interviews considered was that of focus groups, a group comprised of individuals with certain characteristics who focus discussions on a given topic of issue (Anderson, 1990, p13). Focus groups were traditionally a market research tool and are considered by Morgan (1993) to be useful in seeking opinions of groups with limited power and influence; however a major drawback to focus groups is that participants should ideally be unknown to each other, therefore making an organisational study somewhat impractical.

Data collected by means of questionnaires, interviews, dairies or any other method means very little until they are analysed and evaluated (Bell, 1993, p125). When analysing data collected from questionnaires, there were different types of questions to be considered, list questions, allowing for multiple responses, category questions, requiring single answers, grid questions, asking multiple questions and scale questions, initiating responses on the basis of feelings and attitudes. There were also two basic

data collection methods to be considered, a mathematical quantitative approach, quantitative researchers collect facts and study the relationship of one set of facts to another (Bell, 1993, p5), and qualitative approach, understanding individuals perceptions of the world (Bell, 1993, p6). However, when initially designing the research questionnaires it became apparent that a mixed approach was required to obtain the necessary data for this research. Because only a small sample of interviews were conducted, this only allowed for the collection of appropriate qualitative data.

Chapter Three: Literature Review

Literature: The body of written work produced by scholars or researchers in a given field (yourDictionary, 2003).

Automation was originally given formal recognition by the Ford Motor Company in 1946, using it to describe automatic work feeding and material handling devices (Bright, 1958, p4-5). Automation is considered to be after mechanisation and assembly lines, the third phase in the development of technology that began with the industrial revolution of the eighteenth century (Buckingham, 1961, p4). Disputing this, business philosopher Peter Drucker writes Automation is not gadgeteering, it is not even engineering! It is a concept of structure and order of economic life, the design of its basic patterns integrated into a harmonious, balanced, and organic whole (Buckingham, 1961, p6).

Kaplinsky, (1984, p24-26) writes there are however different types of Automation based within three spheres of design, manufacture and coordination. These are IntraActivity automation, Intra-Sphere automation and Inter-Sphere automation, see figure 1. Intra-Activity automation or Island Automation refers to single process based solutions separated from other processes of production. Kaplinsky states that this may range from simple substitution of human power to complex artificial intelligence. InterSphere automation refers to linked processes within the same spheres; this type is considered to be the beginning of organisational factors differentiating automation over mechanisation. Inter-Sphere automation is the most complete form of automation, involving synchronised coordination of all three spheres to ensure the technologies

work in harmony, in this case automation technology links up different activities between different spheres of production (Kaplinsky, 1984, p26).

Whichever type, automations effects cannot be ignored, The number of white-collar workers is increasing, and at the same time the number of blue-collar workers is decreasing (Marcson, 1970, p4). The Employment Gazette 1994 writes, The shift to service employment can hardly be denied. For example, in Britain, employment in services has grown from 53 per cent of total employment in 1971, to 73 per cent in 1993 (Compton et al, 1996). Heathcote (2000, p3) states the introduction of technology has in many instances led to a change in types of job available, citing the introduction of robotic assembly line technology as a major factor. Purnell (2000) writes, Many business reasons are cited for the introduction of robotics including improved product quality and reductions in unit production costs. For the food industry the benefits of robotic automation are improved quality, in terms of hygiene and repeatability of processing, and reduced labour costs, something which Gray (2001) further emphasises, The drivers for automation in the food industry include: consistency of product quality, supply chain integration, hygienic operation, human factors, legislation and economics.

It is these proposed advantages which led a huge take up of self-regulating automation technologies in post war Britain. Bright (1958, p83-84) lists such organisation advantages of automation technologies to include cost reductions, operational improvements, working environment improvements, product advantages, survival advantages and business pride. Reduction in required floor supervisors, inspectors, and support personnel, such as payroll, personnel, food handling and health personnel, can

be substantial (Riley, 1983, p8). However, cost reductions where concerned with labour downsizing have long been a major argument against automation technologies, Faunce (1968) believed such implementations should be government controlled to prevent large scale labour displacement. Jackson (1998) refers to a common Marxist thesis: Such technologies will create a massive reserve army of the unemployed while concentrating wealth, power and industry in the hands of the capitalist few, discrediting this he writes The English textile industry is another graphic example that should have caused mass unemployment. A variety of inventions and innovations led to a massive rise in productivity. It was estimated that by 1812 the productivity of a spinner was 2000 percent greater than in 1770. So great were the increases in productivity by the 1800s that some workers, fearing technological unemployment, resorted to machine-breaking, even though the expansion of employment in the industry had been spectacular. Kaplinsky (1984, p7) also refutes automations link with unemployment It is perhaps worth noting that in drawing this particular link between automation and crisis we are going against the conventional wisdom which has tended to argue that the crisis in Western economies has arisen because of the diffusion of labour-saving automation technologies. In contrast, we have suggested that the crisis emerged first, for largely autonomous reasons. This is not to say that technologies, like automation do not effect employment, David Ricardo noted in 1821 that technical change is a two-edged sword-it can both destroy and create jobs (Freeman and Soete, 1987). The 1994 OECD Jobs Study concluded that Technology both eliminates and creates jobs, generally it destroys lower wage, lower productivity jobs, while it creates jobs that are more productive, high-skill and better paid (South Western College, 2002).

It is this upgrading of employee requirements which prompts further argument. Manufacturers, managers and enthusiasts all believe that automated labour saving technologies rekindle humanity into monotonous, inhumane work, whereas many labour leaders and trade unionists adopt Dr. Norbert Weiners approach believing higher skill requirements alienate ordinary labour, the automated plant becomes a technological lockout of the common man. Such a factory will need superskilled specialists, not ordinary labour (Bright, 1958, p176). Alienation of a particular labour group is not necessarily contributory to spiralling unemployment, if additional skills are required of the workforce, there is always the possibility that existing groups of workers will be displaced by newcomers (Matzner et al, 1991, p13), it simply demonstrates David Ricardos two edged sword theorem, emphasising that old jobs may not be instantly replaced in terms of skill or location.

However, nearly all forms of technology have enormous potential for human betterment but, if not clearly understood, can do more harm than good, this is especially true of automation Even to the sceptic, automation offers the opportunity for greater output, shorter working hours safer working conditions standardised quality and more efficiency (Buckingham, 1961, p2-4). Whilst many are quick to point out negative effects of automation, very few commentators realise potential benefits of such implementations, An obvious and logical conclusion is a reduction in the working week to enable more people to be employed and in such a way that more time would be available for leisure (Kaplinsky, 1984, p147), however without appropriate pay restructuring or uniform international agreement such reductions and accommodations could severely inhibit economic competitiveness.

Although many claim an overriding factor of automation is ultimate cost reductions, automatic assembly becomes more attractive in terms of direct labour cost reduction (Riley, 1983, p3), Bright (1958, p83) disputes this, Perhaps the most widespread statement in automation literature is that the principle objective for automation is to reduce labour cost. Yet this is only a half-truth. Underlying most of these situations (Ford, Growmore, Elkhart) was primarily the need for more capacity. Bright (1958, p170) further writes that productivity and capacity gains are variable to a number of factors, the scale of automations advance, the industrial genre, changes in work content and the overall volume of operations required. Automation technologies themselves bring about such productivity gains through advancements in speed, capacity, compounding, additional mechanisation and the mechanisation of control. Kaplinsky (1984, p114) refers to a particular rule of thumb, the so called 0.6 rule which states that the increase in costs of equipment is generally in the same ratio (i.e. 0.6) to the increase in capacity.

But does this increased production come at a cost to the worker? In the pre-industrial periods both skilled craftsman and peasants had considerable control over the rhythms and movements of work. But the machine system now controls the pace of work and restricts the employees free movements (Marcson, 1970, p13). Levidow et al (1981) also writes, Capitals priority for automation is to attack those stages of the productive cycle which have the most space for workers to hold their own pace of work. Such losses of control have simply threatened to turn workers into mere powerless instruments; it was Karl Marx who originally advanced the theory of the alienated human relation to industry, human intelligence being substituted for machine intelligence. A study by Noble (1976) revealed how numerical control machinery had

indeed made traditionally skilled workers slaves to the machine, whilst further studies by Shaiken (1981) reinforced employee alienation, Ive worked in this trade for seventeen years. The knowledge is still in my head, the skill is still in my hands, but there is no use for either one now. I go home and I feel frustrated, like I havent done anything (Kaplinsky, 1984, p135). Bright (1958, p187) writes there is a logical theory on employee-machine relationships, as automaticity increases the demands on users rise and fall, initially mechanisation relieves manual effort, increasing control, but as fixed control and automatic measurements are implemented the machine gains artificial intelligence, restricting the users overall control. Marcson (1970, p13) writes that such technologies have enforced responsibility, problem solving and decision making to supervisors and away from core staff. However, Faunce (1968) concludes that automation does not increase job specialisation and alienation, but that it promotes a sense of job-enlargement and responsibility. Lindenfeld (1973, p239) writes that employees may not consciously experience job alienation, however if they do employees may tolerate it because they get higher pay, pleasant working conditions and fringe benefits. Lindenfeld also writes that the increased centralisation automation brings is not necessarily beneficial to the employee, Work can be more satisfying if large factories are decentralised into smaller units stating that decisions made in lower hierarchies are simply to achieve predetermined ends, further promoting employee powerlessness.

Marcson (1970, p2-3) writes automation has introduced new principles of control and decision-making in which the human is eliminated as operator and instead functions as supervisor, this is further validated by Faunce (1968) who feels automation technologies simply degradate jobs to the role of a button pusher, for example a

factory assembler would require different skills to that of robot operator/controller, therefore increasing the chances of such labour displacement theories proposed by Marx. Purnell (2000) cites robotic meat cutting as an example of automations effectivity, Previous work at Bristol (university) has shown that a robot can cut more accurately than a human.

Therefore if factory assemblers now require different skills in modern factory environments, retraining must become a central issue of change. Marstrand (1984, p18) writes in a time marked by rapid technological change it is not easy for people over fifty to readjust. However, Brights (1958, p125) own research leads him to conclude Contrary to much speculation, the training of the operating workforce is not a problem, referring to thirteen case studies investigated.

The Three Different Types of Automation (Kaplinsky, 1984, p27) (a) Intra-Activity Design Coordination

Manufacture

Automation

Automation

Automation (b) Intra-Sphere Design Coordination Key Activities Manufacture Spheres Automation technologies Automation

Automation (c) Inter-Sphere Design Coordination

Automation

Manufacture

Chapter Four: Cerestar UK

Case Study: A detailed intensive study of a unit, such as a corporation or corporate division, that stresses factors contributing to its success or failure (yourDictionary, 2003)

Cerestar UK a leading international food production company originally produced starch derived Caramel product in their old, now decommissioned plant; this was approximately thirty-thirty five years old. A factory of this age was considered to have major health and safety issues, not least to its workforce but also to its ultimate consumers. Food production requires exceptionally high hygiene standards; therefore it was determined the Caramel Plant was potentially a liability. This was further exacerbated by the pressure Cerestar experienced from its major international clients, as the prospect of losing such orders could financially cripple the company.

Because of this Cerestar looked to invest in a completely new Caramel Production facility rather than merely upgrading the old plant. It was at this point that automation process engineers, Aston Dane PLC, accompanied by Ventron, specialists in chemical process design, procurement and contract management became involved. The two companies had previously collaborated on other Cerestar projects, so the basis was already cemented for involving the two in the new Caramel Plant. The new plant, although initially to remain competitive in todays automate or liquidate society (McLoughlin et al, 1988), also boasted a range of advantageous features, for example a more pleasant working environment, safer, more efficient and more hygienic. However

projects like this are often purely to maintain business (Shane Pugh, 2002) rather than other such issues.

Before the project itself began huge amounts of planning were involved, firstly Aston Dane and Ventron engineers sat down with Cerestars management to establish a need and profile for the new plant. Only after these series of meetings and the building of a comprehensive knowledge could engineers begin to draft Process Engineering Line Diagrams, identifying where and how the facility should be constructed. Aston Dane PLC remained involved and responsible for the project right throughout its design procurement to live process commissioning.

The whole process from its initial procurement to production took approximately twenty six months, with the first meeting being held in December 1997 and the project close-out meeting being in February 2000, well within the scheduled time limit for the project. Initially the project was estimated at 10 million; however Cerestars European board turned this down, compromising at 7 million, with a further 0.5 million generated from site revenue.

The original estimate of 10 million was to fully automate the plant, with every valve actuated, however the main casualty of such cost reductions was downsizing the scope of automation, to approximately 75% of the whole process, also reducing the amount of reaction vessels installed from five to four. The main valves are however automated, with the less frequently required valves remaining manual, but utilising feedback sensors prompting the operators when actuation is necessary. Route Selection was also

a casualty of cost cutting, requiring the manual configuration of valves to ensure the right materials are fused together in the correct pans.

Due to infinite variations product sampling itself can never be automated in such conditions; however when a sample is due the computer prompts the operator to take a manual sample, which is then analysed in the facilities laboratory. The analysed results are then fed back through the computer which in response adjusts appropriate variables to ensure the batch comes out within the specified code. This is in stark contrast to the manual based system which required the operators to judge when samples are taken, a knowledge only really gained through experience. It is argued that this allows a more consistent, better quality final product, eliminating the scope for human error. However, some commentators question the validity of such claims, Automation is a tool available to high-volume manufacturers to reduce two major expense areas, product assembly and product quality (Riley, 1983, p61).

A major advantage of these automation technologies was therefore the increased efficiency they promote throughout the production process and also in terms of their labour force. Through natural wastage Cerestar reduced the need for temporary workers, allowing for a slight downsizing within the workforce.

Moving from manually based systems to automated would obviously drastically change the appearance and operations of the Caramel production process, the most obvious change would be the appearance of computer screens and a central console from which the whole plant can be operated. This console room itself is shut off from the main plant section and is without windows, using CCTV cameras to monitor the pans, purely for

safety reasons associated with glass within factory conditions. It is this use of computers over the traditional manual production methods that interest many writers, new machinery requires new skills of labour and new knowledge and abilities of management (Buckingham, 1961, p8). Other writers however feel this shift in terms of skill has not only promoted more humane work, but created jobs that are more productive, higher-skill and better paid (OECD Jobs Study, 1994).

The Caramel project as a whole was deemed to have been a great success, receiving glowing praise from Cerestars own in house project reviewer Alan Moore, stating it was his most successful automation project in twenty eight years having been completed on time and well within the allocated budget. Aston Dane themselves feel proud to have been the filling in the sandwich between what the management wanted, and what the operators required.

Chapter Five: Discussion

Discussion: The consideration of a topic (yourDictionary, 2003)

Automation is not gadgeteering, it is not even engineering! It is a concept of structure and order of economic life, the design of its basic patterns integrated into a harmonious, balanced, and organic whole (Buckingham, 1961, p6). Shane Pugh (2002) also feels automation is not simply about the mechanisation of equipment, but also of the automation of processes through many different levels, ranging from single process automation to global factory automation. Kaplinsky (1984, p24-26) distinguishes three such categories, Intra-Activity automation, Intra-Sphere automation and Inter-Sphere automation, illustrated in figure 2. Inter-Activity automation occurs within a particular process, being somewhat isolated from other processes, whereas Intra-Sphere automation technologies are a range of interlinked processes, perhaps consisting of an entire factory or production process, this Kaplinsky feels is the initial differentiating organisational factor between automation and mechanisation. Inter-Sphere automation is the final and most complex of these, Inter-sphere automation is the third and most complete form of automation and involves coordination between activities in different spheres of production (Kaplinsky, 1984, p26). The Caramel lab itself is considered to be Intra-Sphere automation, with various processes from cooking to drumming automatically linked; however its incompleteness prevents it from being considered of Inter-Sphere nature, with automation failing to extend beyond factory walls (Kevin Oliver, 2003).

Purnell (2000) and Gray (2001) both conclude that automation technologies in food production bring additional benefits of product quality, improved hygiene and human benefits. Shane Pugh (2002) claims such benefits are obvious within the Caramel plant, computer aided sampling ensures products achieve correct grading and less client refusals, with an incorporated rework tanks allowing for the saviour of incorrect codes. Shane Pugh (2002) also feels such benefits place huge competitivity gains on businesses, like most profit maximising organisations Cerestar initially undertook the Caramel project solely for survival purposes, however nice spin offs matched Brights (1958, p83-84) ideologies including cost reductions, operational improvements, working environment improvements, product advantages and business pride. When asked if new technologies make their jobs easier, one hundred per cent of Caramel respondents agreed, a stark contrast to the 19th Centaury English Textile industry workers who feared any machine embracement.

Reduction in required floor supervisors, inspectors, and support personnel, such as payroll, personnel, food handling and health personnel, can be substantial (Riley, 1983, p8). There is much argument about the effects upon employment levels automation yields, although Cerestar did not lose any full time members of staff, they did experience a slight downsizing through natural wastage of temporary workers. However, this was nothing comparable to Marxs view, technology will create a massive reserve army of the unemployed (Jackson, 1998). One notable change was the contracting out of the drumming process which contributed hugely to this labour downsizing.

Heathcote (2000, p3) writes the introduction of technology has led in many instances to a change in types of job available, Kevin Oliver (2003) feels not only has the types of jobs changed, but more specifically the skill requirements. The 1994 OECD jobs study concluded Technology both eliminates and creates jobs, generally it destroys lower wage, lower productivity jobs, while it creates jobs that are more productive, high-skill and better paid (South Western College, 2002). However, Bright (1958, p176) feels such employee upgrading has led to the alienation of unskilled labour groups, the automated plant becomes a technological lockout of the common man. Such a factory will need superskilled specialists, not ordinary labour. Contradicting arguments however cite that technology degradates jobs to the role of button pushers (Faunce, 1968), the Caramel questionnaires also reaffirmed this, of 22 respondents, eighty six percent agreed with Faunces statement, however many this felt was purely at face value of their job.

Do Automation Technologies 'Demote Jobs to the role of Button Pusher?'

Yes No

Shane Pugh (2002) refutes such arguments suggesting workers simply require a different range of expertise rather than reduced ones. Despite this Kevin Oliver (2003) refers to the modern equivalent job requirements of higher education rather than traditional apprenticeships served by many modern workforces.

When asked if the new Caramel plant makes their jobs easier, one hundred per cent of respondents agreed, with ninety five per cent agreeing their job role had changed as a result. The main focuses of these changes were less physical activities, higher safety emphasis and more communication. Sixty four per cent of respondents believed themselves to have gained responsibility, fourteen per cent having lost and twenty two per cent believing their job to be the same.

New Caramel Plant Responsibility Levels


16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Gained Lost Same

However, these results are in contrast to Shaikens (1981) numerical control study which indicated that the majority of automation workers had indeed become a slave to machines (Kaplinsky, 1984, p135). Brights (1958, p187) employee-machine theory

also indicates the opposite, stating that although initially automation brings manual relief, ultimately fixed control and artificial intelligence deprive the user of full control resulting in job alienation. However, when asked if he felt such technologies had taken away employee discretion, Kevin Oliver (2003) felt that although in theory they had, often in practice experienced employees predicted sampling times better than specific machine calculations. Marcson (1970, p13) and Faunce (1968) both agree with Caramel lab workers, suggesting that automation promotes a sense of job enlargement and increased responsibility.

Perhaps the most widespread statement in automation literature is that the principle objective for automation is to reduce labour cost. Yet this is only a half-truth. Underlying most of these situations (Ford, Growmore, Elkhart) was primarily the need for more capacity (Bright 1958, p83). Bright (1958, p170) also writes that new technologies provide improvements in other areas such as compounding, control and speed, however Shane Pugh (2002) states that although the new Caramel facility immediately increased the capacity over the older plant in terms of storage, this didnt necessarily imply production increased, although processes can be speeded up and sampling better perfected, the product still requires appropriate cooking times, referring back to the overriding reason for the project being business survival. Agreeing with this Kevin Oliver (2003) believes such large capital investment, $7.5 million, would not be undertaken simply for negligible capacity increases. Referring to Kaplinskys (1984, p114) 0.6 rule which implies a direct correlation to investment and capacity, Shane Pugh (2002) felt that because of such a large range of variables involved it would be impossible to quantify such gains, however Kevin Oliver (2003) feels the new plant was a major factor in the acquisition of another major client, Pepsi-Cola.

In the pre-industrial periods both skilled craftsman and peasants had considerable control over the rhythms and movements of work. But the machine system now controls the pace of work and restricts the employees free movements (Marcson, 1970, p13). When asked to state their views on capitals priority for automation is to attack those stages of the productive cycle which have the most space for workers to hold their own pace of work (Levidow et al, 1981), one hundred per cent of

employees agreed, with a further ninety one per cent agreeing that the new Caramel plant is also guilty of this.

Does the Caramel Plant force employees to work at a Computer Dictated pace?

Yes No

Shane Pugh (2002) also agrees, stating that most automation systems generally do drive the operator. However, the caramel plant does suffer patches of inactivity whilst the product is cooking; followed by a flurry of activity once the computer has indicated these stages complete.

Marxs theory of employee alienation is also disputed by Cerestar workers, with the overwhelmingly positive response to the implementation, sixty eight per cent of respondents claiming the new technologies live up to their expectations, whereas only thirty two per cent feel the Caramel plant is below expected standards, citing reasons of incomplete automation and difficult sampling processes. However, Lindenfeld (1973, p239) indicates that employees may not actually consciously experience job alienation, and those that do may simply tolerate this in the face of obvious benefits technology brings. Despite the overall positive reception, fifty five per cent of workers still feel that efficiency could have been improved further by utilising complete process automation of an Inter-Sphere nature.

Retraining was also conducted via shared responsibility between Cerestar and Aston Dane PLC. With the majority of Caramel Plant workers being in the 46-55 age group, Marstrand (1984) believes in a time marked by rapid technological change it is not easy for people over fifty to readjust, Shane Pugh (2002) disputes this, believing although it isnt easy, if retraining is conducted in a sympathetic manner making allowances for computer illiteracy virtually anybody can readjust. He also feels that the balance of literate and illiterate employees negates any unforeseen problems missed in training exercises.

Figure 2
The Three Different Types of Automation (Kaplinsky, 1984, p27) (a) Intra-Activity Design Coordination

Manufacture

Automation

Automation

Automation (b) Intra-Sphere Design Coordination Key Activities Manufacture Spheres Automation technologies Automation

Automation (c) Inter-Sphere Design Coordination

Automation

Manufacture

Chapter Six: Conclusions

Conclusion: The result or outcome of an act or process (yourDictionary, 2003)

Overall from this study it is possible to draw several conclusions. Although automation is often concerned with the concept of new technology, it is not merely a technological advancement. Automation is an integrated, harmonious being reliant upon a heavy balance of variables coming together to promote much greater efficiency than mechanisation alone. Although there are different types of automation technologies, it is only Intra-Sphere and Inter-Sphere which truly coin such balanced meaning.

From a capitalist viewpoint, the benefits of such food process reorganisation cannot be ignored; product quality, improved hygiene, repeatability, operational improvements and humanity factors all promote and contribute to its uptake. However, automation is not always critical, as Shane Pugh (2002) states, a corporate image based on traditionalist methods of production would have little need for implementation.

For employment levels automation can have indifferent effects. Despite much argument over Marxs reserve army of the unemployed (Jackson, 1998) there is much evidence that as David Ricardo predicted, technology is a two edged sword. As the 1994 OECD jobs study concluded, technology both eliminates and creates jobs (South Western College, 2002), destroying lower wage, inhumane, monotonous work whilst eventually upgrading workers to higher skilled, better paid jobs.

But should this upgrading alienate ordinary man? Studies by Bright (1958, p125) show contrary to popular belief retraining is not a problem and Shane Pugh (2002) of Aston Dane PLC believes anybody can be retrained as long as appropriate techniques are employed. Whether workers want to be retrained is however a different matter, perhaps automation technologies do demote employees from skilled individual to supervisor, but is such demotion worthwhile when examining the potential benefits technology withholds? Would an employee rather operate from within an office or a steamy ammonia filled factory? As the Caramel questionnaires pointed out, becoming a button pusher is only the face value of a job; computer operations make little difference than turning dials on machines themselves.

The study also shows other obvious employee benefits, one hundred per cent of Caramel workers felt that automation technologies had made their job easier, changing in house focus from simply production to higher safety emphasis, better communication, better conditions and more regular team meetings. As a result, sixty four per cent felt automation had promoted more individual responsibility, and as Marcson (1970, p13) and Faunce (1968) predicted, ultimately brought about job enlargement. Brights (1958, p187) employee-machine relationship theory is also disproved by Caramel workers, Kevin Oliver (2003) writes that employees often second guess technology, frequently proving that human discretion produces better results than machine calculations alone.

Despite the overwhelmingly positive response to the new Caramel plant, Cerestar employees did agree with both Marcson (1970, p13) and Levidow et al (1981), stating

that such technology has forced them to work at computer dictated pace, although agreeing in food production timing is always of utmost importance.

Bright (1958, p83) utilising case studies argues that many automation projects are undertaken not to simply reduce costs through labour and wastage, but often to increase overall production capacity. However, Shane Pugh (2002) states that although the new Caramel facility did allow for increased capacity and slight downsizing, these were certainly not the overriding factors for implementation. Cerestar UK had experienced increased pressure from its major clients to invest heavily and replace its aging plant, with the main focus of its implementation being business survival. Kevin Oliver (2003) however did note a significant increase in production since the new plant, relating this to Kaplinskys (1984, p114) 0.6 rule from which Cerestars investment acquired them another major client, Pepsi Cola.

Overall the implementation of automation technologies within Cerestar UKs new Caramel Production Facility was considered to be a successful project. Aston Dane PLC feel they worked hard in bridging the gap between employers needs and employees wants from the facility. The employees consensus is they have more responsibility, more awareness and a better working environment, the employer as a result is rewarded with increased efficiency, higher production, happier staff and a more promising future.

In hindsight the methods of data extraction employed in this study provided some interesting conclusions. Much automation literature remains very unclear and confused, for every point arguing the benefits of automation technologies, there is always a

contrasting argument. Automation technology is very dependant upon certain variables; Cerestars Caramel plant withholds a certain array of variables which may not be applicable to another case study. Therefore the overall conclusions to this study maybe valid in this particular scenario but may not be emulated elsewhere, however without the use of a case study it would have been impossible to draw accurate or appropriate conclusions based on literature alone.

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