Recalculating the Cost of Doing Business: Man vs. Machine
Any basic web search for robots reveals at least two things: First, there are literally thousands of tasks that robots and automated equipment can do.
Second, they can do it cheaply.
The wonder right now isn’t that we use so much automation, but that many companies use so little.
Need to clean a building? Easy with robots.
Run a warehouse? One ad claims their robotics solution will triple your productivity.
Guarding something? Automation does the work of many with sophisticated systems and one human monitor.
Craving fast food? Use the touch-screen kiosk and swipe your card.
Fine dining? Use a tablet and have one server cover two or three times the tables.
The list goes on.
Robots range from about $22,000 to $162,000, with a median of about $60,000. Financing is cheap, banks are eager to lend, and service plans are available.
So for an initial price of, say, $70,000 and ongoing costs of about $20,000 a year, you can buy, service, and finance your very own robot that works 24/7, three shifts, 365 days a year (366 in a leap year).
A Modest Proposal?
Consider proposed legislation that would force $15 hourly wages for service jobs and assess a penalty on companies that don’t go along.
Compare that robot to a wage starting at $15 per hour: actually, $19.50 after you add a minimum of 30% for basic benefits, workers’ comp, unemployment comp, FICA, Medicare taxes, etc.
One eight-hour shift all year long is 2,920 hours. At $19.50, 2,920 hours costs $56,940. That’s the real price of one shift at a $15 per hour for payroll. If a business operates two shifts, it’s $113,880. Three shifts? $170,820.
You get the picture. $15/hour wage proposals make robots look really attractive. Is that what Connecticut wants: automation over people?
“We just want to work,” a trade union representative said at a legislative hearing in Middletown a few weeks ago.
He’s right. We should be growing jobs, not taxing them.
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