How automation creating an opportunity to live and work better

Published: March 25, 2019 4:20:59 AM

Technology brings information together, spurs stronger ideas and helps people make better decisions.

Automation presents an opportunity to embrace new construction and manufacturing processes with less waste and better outcomes.

By Andrew Anagnost

What will happen if we don’t rethink the way we design and make things?
If you look at infrastructure in the developed world, there’s much that needs to be redone: Bridges are crumbling, roads are in trouble. In emerging countries, new infrastructure needs to be built including rail, roads, tunnels, and bridges. At the same time, we must confront the reality of less— fewer natural resources, less space, less waste — because there’s simply not enough raw materials or money available to do things the way they’ve always been done.
To meet increasing demand responsibly, we must make more things, make them better, and make them with less negative impact on the world. This is a massive challenge, but it’s also the biggest opportunity designers and makers have ever had.

Automation connects ideas & data
Automation presents an opportunity to embrace new construction and manufacturing processes with less waste and better outcomes. Technology brings information together, spurs stronger ideas and helps people make better decisions. Imagine if architects, engineers, and contractors could team up to build something virtually before they built it in real life. Working from one building model, they can explore dozens of options early in the design phase to facilitate ideation and collaboration before construction, helping conserve resources. Real-time feedback on the cost, reliability and risk of designs can make the final model better, the building better, and the work better.
Surprisingly, in the new era of automation we face a shortage of skills, not a shortage of jobs. Workers will have to adapt to a more technologically sophisticated work environment. Moving beyond optimisation, humans and machines are starting to collaborate, leading to better opportunities. One example of automation poised to create more interesting and meaningful work is robots, which will move from factory production lines to construction sites. People will need to build and maintain those robots, plan and coordinate projects, and set-up the robots on the sites.

Creativity drives better outcomes
Automation helps companies be competitive, but perhaps more importantly, it encourages and supports the creativity and imagination needed to break down barriers and move humanity forward, which ultimately leads to better work. Automation also reduces inefficiency and leads to a cost-effective design and building process for SNC-Lavalin Atkins. The design and engineering consulting company created an app that transforms ideas on simple napkin sketches into real-life buildings. Its design team and customers are embracing automation, interacting with data and ideas in one place, and simulating building designs before they’re built.

Better opportunity ahead
What if the model could be applied to whole cities?This requires a new mindset and clear vision to be sure, but anything is possible when we reimagine the way we work. To succeed, let’s embrace adaptability, resiliency, and community.

Digital, flexible tools will help workers learn, grow, and adjust to the new world of work. Technology adoption challenges are real, and have to be tackled, today. Ultimately, we have to bring people together and prioritise automation to positively impact local economies, balance the inevitability of more demand, the reality of less resources, and our aspiration for better.
Better buildings, better things, better work: Automation is our ticket to better.

-The writer is president & CEO, Autodesk

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