The manufacturing sector today employs less than 9% of American workers. This number has dropped dramatically from about 50% a few decades ago,
illustrating the radical and rapid transformations jobs are facing in the country and around the world. The shift the manufacturing sector witnessed was particularly affected by the rise of the service- based economy, outsourcing as well as by the disruption brought by new technologies and automation, which have displaced more traditional jobs that were at the basis of western industrial dominance over the past century. This “creative destruction,” as Schumpeter noted, brings the need for rapid adaptation, training and specialization as the human worker has had to acquire new technological skills to support the ‘robot’ workers and machines that are a the heart of modern production. The manufacturing sector’s swift transformation has led to multiple issues. Global industries with remote or mobile as- sets are losing money through workforce-related inefficiency.

Existing enterprise software and equipment automation solutions do not effectively engage, leverage or address the field workforce component. Employees are overwhelmed by data yet lack the relevant information to execute, as a result spending over 60% of their time on non-productive activities. Moreover, although there has been great progress in identifying and resolving systemic error with equipment, there is virtually no solution to capture and address systemic human error. Understanding the common ways in which groups of individuals function correctly and incorrectly can refine automated guidance and avoid equipment redesign. All the analyzing, optimizing and distribution of operational information will not succeed if the people doing the work do not have the skills and contextualized information required to execute effectively. It is therefore key to empower workers through technology, providing them with a tool to support them and make them more effective instead of simply replacing them.

URBAN-X Cohort company CONTEXTERE delivers actionable intelligence to the last tactical mile of an industrial line to decrease human error, equipment downtime and safety incidents.


This thought piece has been put together by the URBAN-X team; with research support from Felix Keser and Adrian Dahlin.

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