The Internet of Things is taking the industrial world by storm, automating countless tasks once performed manually. Reactions to this revolution range from excitement to fear, with detractors wondering, “Will the IoT take my job?”
The answer to this question extends beyond a simple “yes” or “no.” The IoT won’t necessarily replace jobs, but it will change their scopes. Workers will require new skill sets, and their roles will require more technological training — but the number of jobs should remain relatively unchanged.
This isn’t like the automobile replacing the horse and carriage; it’s more like the desktop computer helping accountants crunch numbers more efficiently and better serve their clients.
Working in an IoT World
IoT-enabled devices remove a lot of physical burden from many jobs. Teams become connected by technology, and tasks can easily be carried out from remote locations — saving time, effort, and money.
Further, many IoT solutions come equipped with analysis tools that can self-report and adjust their operations and performance without requiring any manual intervention. Because of this, companies can devote their manpower to proactive, rather than reactive, causes.
Let’s take a look at what this shift looks like for three specific jobs:
1. Field Maintenance. Field maintenance workers no longer need to be on-site to assess maintenance issues. Instead of spending hours traveling to a work site, analyzing a malfunction, and completing a painstaking repair, they can accomplish most of these tasks from the comfort of their desks.
IoT promotes predictive maintenance, allowing technicians to proactively schedule repairs that prevent breakdowns and costly downtime. For example, an elevator can remotely indicate that it’s beginning to malfunction, warning technicians well before it becomes a major issue.
2. Emergency Response. Connectivity of safety and security devices means emergency response personnel will be automatically alerted when certain conditions are detected. If, for example, a fire extinguisher is discharged or an emergency exit is used, the system will automatically contact the appropriate first responders.
Automated systems also help prepare for emergencies. Sensors can alert workers when supplies need to be restocked or equipment needs maintenance, eliminating time-consuming safety checks — or worse, malfunctions during life-threatening scenarios.
Safety and emergency response workers certainly won’t be eliminated; they’ll receive an overlay of connectivity that increases their response readiness, keeping the public that much safer and minimizing liability issues.
3. Construction Managers. Construction equipment is notoriously expensive to maintain. If each piece isn’t monitored diligently, it risks sitting idle, accumulating costly (but preventable) damage.
Predictive maintenance provides major benefits to the construction world, eliminating its reliance on manual checks or the engine’s unreliable failure sensors. These accurate self-reported readouts once again save on manual diagnostic time and guesswork.
The pattern is clear: The IoT eliminates routine, menial tasks from the plates of skilled workers, granting them more time to focus on the cores of their jobs. By automating tedious observation tasks, these advances allow workers to become decision makers with reliable predictive information.
Beyond the obvious efficiency benefits provided by the IoT revolution, optimized asset usage will drastically decrease companies’ overall costs. Just a small reduction in energy use on a large scale can save billions.
As the IoT becomes a part of everyday industrial life, a little technical know-how will replace a lot of routine maintenance and monitoring for workers — but it won’t replace them.
This article was written by John Horn from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.