Om vikten av att i automationsprocessen integrera handens och hjärnans arbete
This licentiate report attempts to add to our knowledge of how the competence of skilled workers can be incorporated into modern manufacturing systems, without depriving them of the status that they had earned through their previous specialised skills and knowledge. The work is concentrated on establishing a theoretical basis for a model of how the computer can support this work: the Operator's Computer approach has been applied in three case-studies, thus taking it over the threshold into the Swedish engineering industry. The work has shown that the operator's computer serves as a tool for communication in two directions:
- as a link between man and machine (programming the robot[s] and manufacturing process[es]):
- as a link for coordinating the operator's skills, knowledge and experience with those of other personnel categories (working with the designers and the work planners).
The report emphasises that when new technology is to be introduced, it should be considered as a matter of conscious policy, which part the practical knowledge and experience should play, and how it should be valued and best utilised. It is shown that the practical knowledge and skills of the skilled workers, with a significant content of tacit knowledge, can be incorporated into the new production system by guaranteeing training to the workers and ensuring that they are given a new skilled role to play and a proper place in a cross functional working team.
The question is how this practical, but unarticulated, knowledge can be transferred from individuals to machines and organisations, refined into articulated as well as scientific knowledge and contribute to further development of technology. This is an area in which the targetboard model of knowledge intensive engineering teams can be helpful. It also shows that the belief is no longer true, that the development of the production technology and corresponding ways to organising the work should inevitably deskill the work. On the contrary, the computer puts reskilling back on to the agenda by:
- eliminating the operators' constant tie to the machine;
- releasing human skills and resources for more advanced work;
- bringing different tasks together and enriching the work content, and
- facilitating decentralising of responsibilities and authorisations.
Small scale production
Cross-functional work teams
Robot arc welding
Decentralised work organisation