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Making people better is more profitable than replacing them.

For anyone who thinks that #automation will enable factories to save a lot of money by replacing humans, think again. Such potential savings are miniscule compared to automation’s potential to make employees more effective.

Most graphical user interfaces (#GUIs) in factories were designed by engineers based solely on what that engineer wanted to see. They share way too much information, and often the wrong information. Plus, the interfaces themselves are one-size-fits-all. The user has to adapt to the overly-complicated interface, which means that training of a new employee can take as long as three months. (By taking an utterly different approach, we have been able to reduce training to as little as three weeks.)

But the big cost savings come from increasing the output, reducing downtime, improving quality, and preventing errors.

The way we do this is by designing GUIs based on personas. That is, the interface works differently depending on who is using it: the operator, a maintenance engineer, the plant manager, or the top executive. It hides information that would be distracting to the operator and simplifies the work of a maintenance worker… who has a completely different goal than the operator.

Making people better is more profitable than replacing them. By far.

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