New Report Suggests Manufacturing is Ripe for Major Automation

A recent report suggested that more than half of all manufacturing activities could be automated using currently available technology.

Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. said that made manufacturing — along with food service and retail — was among the sectors whose jobs were most likely to be automated over next decade, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The report, which was based on data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources, reviewed the work tasks of more than 800 occupations, then ranked those tasks according to which were currently the most and least vulnerable to automation.

Predictable or repetitive tasks — which accounted for about 20 percent of overall U.S. work activity — were understandably classified as more likely to be automated.

The analysis estimated that 59 percent of all manufacturing activities could be automated, and that welders, cutters and solderers could see up to 90 percent of their tasks automated.

The health care and education sectors, meanwhile, were among the least vulnerable.

A report last year estimated that nearly half of all U.S. jobs could be replaced by automated machines, but McKinsey, the Journal noted, said that automation may not be economical for many industries — particularly those with a cheap supply of labor.

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