Automation is gaining ground.
In the cattle industry, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) is driving the change. They hope that technology will make Australia more competitive.
And changes are happening across all sectors.
Farmers are embracing new technologies. New apps like IHerd help cattlemen manage their business. The app was developed by a cattleman from Queensland.
It’s used to track the herd in real time as it moves around the farm. The app can also keep count of the size of the cattle, and can map the farm.
The Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Participation has also been working on a project. It could save farmers around AU$68 a head in annual operational costs.
The project assigns each cow an electronic ID. As the herd moves to drink water, they walk across scales. The scales can ID the animal and record their weight.
Automation has also arrived to the processing plants.
ICA is a conveyor company with clients in the meat industry. They were recently hired by an abattoir that needed to increase efficiency and improve food safety standards.
The new system decreased each employee’s work day by an hour!
It’s allowing the company to save money on raw materials and labour.
Another company betting on technology is JBS. It’s the largest meat processing company in Australia.
They have invested in robotics company Scott Technologies.
JBS has a lamb processing plant in Bordertown, South Australia. They have been sampling a new product made by Scott Technologies.
It’s the first automated X-ray lamb processing system. The system can automatically detect the best cutting line with a high degree of precision. The system is completely automated.
That is, it will produce the best cuts without the need of a human.
So far, this technology has concentrated on the lamb industry. But it will soon be moving to beef.
And it will really benefit the industry.
Accuracy and productivity will improve. Australia has high production costs. Labour costs are 50% higher in Australia than in the US.
Increasing efficiency will result in more exports.
Automation will also increase safety. As workplace injuries decline, so too will insurance costs.
And there is the added benefit of better food safety.
But an increase in automation will also mean fewer jobs.
According to a study by the job search engine Adzuna, one in six jobs in Australia are at risk of automation.
The study lists butchers and plant operators as those most at risk — the same jobs that JBS and ICA are trying to replace. This is because they include routine tasks that can be easily replaced by robots.
There is no doubt automation will increase Australian unemployment.
Changes will not happen overnight. But expect to see them within the next 10–20 years.
We are already seeing a need for jobseekers to differentiate themselves from the masses.
And as automation advances, workers will need to have more technology skills.
Because working with technology will be the only jobs available in the future.
Analyst, Markets and Money
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