2021 MHI Annual Conference: Automating Better and Safer

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for agile and fast supply chains that keep humans safe. This opens the door to increased automation across many aspects of supply and logistics including warehouse operations and transportation. However, automation and artificial intelligence are only tools, not solutions to improved operations.

At the 2021 MHI Annual Conference Oct. 3-6, Dr. Mary (Missy) Cummings discussed how a more collaborative approach between humans and autonomy will provide safer and more flexible solutions going forward. She spoke to the stages of expert automation including skill, rule, knowledge, and expert. She warned that humans are still more accurate than robots and claims we are currently stuck in the knowledge stage trying to get more accurate information of what a robot is seeing. For example, there is currently a lot of pressure to make autonomous trucking, but we are not there yet for providing a safe solution.

Transportation is not the only area in need of better and safer automation. The supply chain workforce is in need of automation maintenance professionals otherwise know as “robot doctors”. We also are in need of combining hardware and software education in student curriculum.

Dr. Mary (Missy) Cummings concluded with a recipe for bad automation followed by a check list for success.

A recipe for bad automation:

– Inappropriate role allocation.
– Lack of internal organized testing strategy
– Perceived financial imperative
– Lack of regulatory oversight
– Season with hubris and hype as desired

Check list for success:

– Understand and balance human and automation
– Ensure a staged testing strategy

To learn more view the full education session recording! Annual Conference registered attendees can access the full education session recording online by logging in here.