Can robot operation be considered as work?

A round table “How to Secure a Breakthrough in the Labor Productivity of the National Industry? High Technologies VS Innovative Transformations” dedicated to the search of the most reasonable labor productivity improvement methods for the national enterprises and companies, was held on November 15th, 2019, in the framework of XII St. Petersburg International Innovation Forum.

A round table was arranged by the Non-Profit Partnership – Creonomyca HiTech & Engineering Cluster of the North-West Federal District of the Russian Federation, which is an association of enterprises and organizations operating in the field of HiTech and engineering and interested in the efforts aimed at integrating the innovative business development.

The event was intended to identify the labor development opportunities in the national industry through the use of high technologies and innovative organizational improvement methods.

The organizational techniques were the first ones to be discussed. In her report “Lean Production: Organizational Method of Labor Productivity Improvement” Viktoriya Litun, Executive Director at R-Pro-Consulting, informed about the principles of the lean production concept, improvement of business processes and development of the production culture. “When changing the production culture we achieve an average growth of 30% in the labor productivity. It is a significant indicator compared to the general indicators in the industries and throughout the country.” The expert has recommended starting in a small way, from “pilot areas”, as no enterprise is ready to launch an integrated program at once.

Representatives of SUE Vodokanal informed about the implementation experience of the lean production concept: Alexander Sablin compared it with the physical training (due to its constant and regular application), while Anatoly Kirimichev revealed a secret: “For the last few years our experts have visited many enterprises operating under the lean production system and tried different experience. At a number of companies, the management techniques were inconsistent with other standards: ISO, EFQM, “20 Keys”, etc. Therefore, today we are developing our own production and economic system of 4E: economics, efficiency, ecology and evolution.” All speakers have noted that the implementation of the concept requires a powerful administrative resource and personnel motivation.

The report “Rational PROduction: Digital Twins as Innovative Productivity Improvement Tool” made by Alexey Korablev, Chairman of the Management Board of Creonomyca Cluster (R-Pro-Consulting), represented a smooth shift from the organizational techniques to the high technologies. He told about the innovative lean production implementation methods with the use of digital technologies and provided several successful cases.

Denis Shchepelin, Commercial Director of Alfa-Intech Integrator Company, informed about the economic benefits of the high-tech equipment introduction on the example of the robotics. The global statistics impressed the colleagues: increase in the robotics density (number of robots per 1 mln of man-hours) per unit improves the labor productivity by 0.04%. And the Company’s successful cases were even more impressive: in one of the cases, the labor productivity improved 400 (!) times after the robotics was introduced.

The statement made by Denis Shchepelin that introduction of the robotics does not lead to unemployment (the presentation contained the indicators refuting a prevailing stereotype) caused a heated debate: Olga Koroteeva, Rector of the Water Academy of SUE Vodokanal’s Water Cluster, in her turn, has quoted the data of RANEPA that in the near future 20 mln of Russian citizens may lose their jobs due to the robotic automation. As the time was limited, this topic was decided to be discussed separately. At the same time, the opportunity was granted to Olga Koroteeva to share her knowledge about the corporate training as the labor productivity growth factor.

The participants were also provided with a living illustration of the breakthrough production being a successful case of the product development, establishment of the market for this product and gaining the leadership on this market. “Wherever there are frictions, we liquidate them”, Sergey Zelenkov, Director General of Suprotec Research and Production Engineering Company, said seriously, implying the previous discussions. The round table participants learnt more about the product from the report “SUPROTEC Tribotechnical Substances to Improve the Resource and Characteristics of Industrial and Transport Equipment”.

“We have discussed various aspects of productivity and production process efficiency improvement”, Olga Korableva, Professor of the St. Petersburg University, summarized, “Today we have opposed the high technologies to the innovative organizational techniques, but these processes are interrelated and this may become the topic of the next round table.”

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