FOCUS | AUTOMATION

MECHANIZED WORKFORCE
The labor market is changing whether we like it or not. Forty-nine
percent of the activities that people are paid to do in the global
economy have the potential to be automated by adapting
currently demonstrated technology. In the shipping and
distribution sector the future of automation is now.
By PAUL PENZELLA | Southern California News Group

WORK ACTIVITY
Potential for technical automation across sectors varies depending
on types of activity.
Ability to automate (%)
Size of bubble indicates %
of time spent in U.S. occupations 0 50 100%
Unpredictable Predictable
physical physical
Sectors by Automation Expertise activity Collect Process activity
activity type potential Manage Interface data data

Accommodation 73%
and food services
Manufacturing 60%
TECHNICAL AUTOMATION POTENTIAL OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMY Agriculture 58%
AMONG COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD
Employees weighted overall percent of activities that can be automated Transportation and 57%
warehousing
by adapting currently demonstrated technologies
Retail trade 53%
<45% 45–47% 47–49% 49–51% >51% No data Mining 51%

Other services 49%

Construction 47%

Utilities 44%
Wholesale
trade 44%
Finance and
insurance 43%
Arts, entertainment 41%
and recreation

Real estate 40%

Administrative 39%
Health care 36%
PERCENT OF AUTOMATION POTENTIAL
Both low and high-wage occupations have significant technical
Information 36%
automation potential.
People in the lowest wage group, earning Professionals 35%
100% less than $15 per hour, carry out work
activities that have among the highest
90 potential for automation, and as a whole Management 35%
80 File a majority of this group’s activities is
automatable. However, those earning Educational 27%
clerks services
70 between $15 and $30 per hour have an
60 automation potential of 46 percent,
which is close to the average for the
50 economy as a whole.
40 AUTOMATION OF TOMORROW
Shipping and delivery methods are going to be impacted greatly by advances in
30 mechanical automation. E-commerce giant Amazon was awarded a patent that
20 describes a logistics technology in which a giant airship would house items the
Chief
executives company sells through its online marketplace. In the patent, drones fly into the
10
warehouse, pick up the items they need to deliver, then drop off those items at
0 Landscape the customer’s home.
workers

$0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
Hourly wage ($) Amazon’s airborne fulfilment center
As described in its patent, Amazon’s giant
floating warehouse, like the one shown here,
will cruise at 45,000 feet above the ground.

AUTOMATION OF TODAY
TraPac is a company that specailizes in container-handling operations.
At the Port of Los Angeles, and other ports around the nation, TraPac A fleet of smaller
provides automated systems that cut back on emissions, truck return vehicles will take
times and manpower. workers, supplies,
products and
drones to and
Automated from the airborne
gantry warehouses.
crane Approximately 35% of cargo that comes
through TraPac is moved via rail, improving
efficiency and allowing cargo owners to Delivery
receive their goods faster. vehicle

Products

Delivery ramp

Au Delivery
toma drone
ted
rai
l sys
tem

Auto-strad
TraPac’s hybrid-electric
automated straddle carriers
(auto-strads) help move shipping
containers to the proper area.

Automated
truck handling
Cargo available within
one hour of it being
unloaded from the ship.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics; McKinsey Global Institute
analysis, TraPac; Amazon.com, Inc.

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