The Managerial Implications of Microelectronics by Brian C. Twiss

By Brian C. Twiss

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Robots can be regarded as the ultimate stage in the process of automation that has been advancing steadily for over 40 years. They have now reached a stage where their adoption is likely to grow rapidly and their uses to expand from their current applications in paint spraying, welding and simple assembly operations. Outside manufactur- 14 The Managerial implications of Microelectronics ing industry it is possible to foresee widespread use in mining and deepsea applications. At present many possible uses are limited by insufficient development of the sensor system, a problem which will be gradually overcome with development; the unreliability which is to be expected in the early stages of a complex technology; and opposition aroused due to fears of unemployment.

In both cases a practical electronic equivalent 34 The Managerial Implications of Microelectronics .... 8 Steam engine speed governor was large, expensive, unreliable and consumed much power. Laboratory samples of such electronic control and calculating machines were made between the wars but their cost and size prevented them from being used in everyday applications. We have already seen that the invention of the transistor and its successor the integrated circuit, having many thousands of transistors on a single small chip of silicon, overcame the disadvantages of the valve while retaining its potential to manipulate information electronically.

This may lead directly to the need for fewer check-out operators; but it also leads to more efficient stock control thereby reducing the need for warehousing and waste through time-expired goods. Similarly the TV game has probably affected the sale of board games. It is difficult to generalise about the future effects of the wide diversity of new products which will be based upon microelectronics. It is even more difficult to be specific at this early stage of their development. Nevertheless, it can be seen that they are likely to have widespread impacts on almost every other industry and area of business activity.

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