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: 오토메이션월드 관리자 : Mon, 28 August, 3:31 PM

[Professional Insight] “Smart factory technology can be a breakthrough in the declining birthrate and aging population.”

“Smart factory technology can be a breakthrough in the declining birthrate and aging population.”

Honorary Professor of Seoul National University Department of Industrial Engineering

Currently, we live in an era where information is shared all over the world with just a mobile phone, and automation technology that implements smart factories has made tremendous progress. Since the birth of PLC in 1968, new technologies such as CAD, CAM, OPC-UA, Lidar, and Chat-GPT have greatly changed the appearance of production sites. Now we live in that central era, and smart factory technology encompasses it all. Even now, smart factories continue to evolve with the development of automation, information communication, and AI. Excellent young manpower should develop into a higher level of manufacturing while pioneering new technologies and new supply chains.

On the other hand, the technological development that started from the Industrial Revolution has given great benefits to mankind, but has also caused problems such as global warming, environmental destruction, and resource depletion. In addition to this, Korea has a serious problem of low birth rate and aging population. 7% of the total population aged 65 or older is called an aging society, 14% is an elderly society, and 20% is a super-aged society. It took France 154 years, the United States 94 years, and Japan 36 years to shift from aging to a super-aged society, but Korea will enter a super-aged society in 2026, 26 years later. Moreover, the phenomenon of ultra-low birthrate, with the total fertility rate falling below 2.1, has continued for 20 years since 2002. Is there anything we can do in this era of such national crisis?

Simply put, smart factory technology can be the key to solving not only these issues of ultra-low birth rate and super-aging, but also all other issues such as global warming. For example, in one case, the work of 30 foreign workers was improved with simple automation/information technology and replaced by 8 domestic housewives. This is an excellent example of improving productivity, employment level, and corporate competitiveness while making work easier. Recent changes such as the US-China conflict and the war in Ukraine are causing changes in the supply chain. Opportunities are emerging in the manufacturing sector, where international competitiveness has been weakening, but there are cases where work can’t be done because there aren’t enough workers.

In Korea, the baby boom, in which more than 900,000 people were born every year from 1955 to 1974, was maintained for 20 years, and more than 800,000 people were born until 1982. Smart factory technology has made it possible for housewives to do what young workers used to do. Even retired seniors can make sufficiently competitive products with low salaries. If two retired people receiving minimum wage produce a similar output as one young worker, there are many areas to maintain competitiveness in the manufacturing industry.

However, these elderly people should never take away the jobs of young people and should rather maintain the division of labor with young efficient workers. Retired seniors should be encouraged to work for new creative jobs in factories and farms where young people can’t find people to work at. The elderly has the need and will to work for their retirement plan. Smart factory technology will be the most suitable alternative for the elderly working as much as they can as long as their health permits to develop into a society that helps future generations. 

PLC: Programmabel Logic Controller

CAD: Computer Aided Design

CAM: Computer Aided Manufacturing
OPC-UA: Open Platform Communications-Unified Architecture

LiDAR: Light Detection And Ranging

ChatGPT: Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer

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