mvgordie.com recently ran across an online news article written by an individual who was given a personal tour of the Skechers distribution center located in the City of Moreno Valley by none other than its developer Iddo Benzeevi of Highland Fairview. Below are some excerpts from the article written by Rick Wartzman.
“If you want a sense of where the nation’s job market is headed, a good place to stand is inside the half-mile-long Skechers warehouse in Moreno Valley, California, where box after box of shoes is stacked upon row after row of shelving, which soars some 40 feet in the air. Physically, the place is a wonder—quiet, sleek, and environmentally friendly (at 1.8 million square feet, it’s the largest officially certified “LEED Gold” building in the country). But what’s most remarkable about the $250 million structure, which opened in 2011, is how few people work there.”
The day Mr. Wartzman visited the facility he described what he observed as, “a clump of men and women toiled away near a series of conveyor belts, filling small specialty orders. But machines, not human beings, were handling the bulk of the chores,” to which Iddo Benzeevi informed him of what it was he was seeing before his eyes.
“As you can see, there are no more people doing the retrieving,” Iddo Benzeevi, the chief executive of Highland Fairview, the firm that developed the site, told me. “It’s the computer doing it all by itself.”
“About 700 people work in the Skechers warehouse (Although the actual number is in dispute), according to Benzeevi, and as many as 300 more could be added in the next few years as business expands. That, however, is about 30 percent fewer jobs than one would expect at a more traditional logistics operation of the same size.”
When Skechers made its move to Moreno Valley, it cost the Inland Empire approximately 400 jobs due to the lower needs of the operation of the facility in Moreno Valley, however:
“Benzeevi is unapologetic about any such casualties and points to a growing logistics industry, the fierce nature of global competition, the unrelenting march of technology, and the quality of jobs that are found at his cutting-edge distribution center, relatively high-skilled, high-paying ones (such as programming computers and repairing sophisticated pieces of equipment) versus the more menial variety that have been wiped out (like hauling around pallets with a forklift). “They are better jobs, which is where America should be,” he says.
The issue here however is that programming jobs are only truly needed during the initial phase of the systems development, and other programming needs can be dealt with from long distances away from the actual facility itself. Once up and running the computer software can simply take over almost all aspects of the distribution facility’s needs, much like those at your local Walmart store where every product scanned at the checkout is accounted for in the store’s inventory and reorders of goods are automatically sent via the corporations vast computer network, this same computer network also maintains sales trend records for each individual store within their corporate chain, thus allowing Walmart to specifically tailor each stores individual sales needs by those trends (ever wonder why some Walmart stores carry items which other don’t). As for repairing very sophisticated equipment, Mr. Benzeevi must be referring to the computer systems themselves as the mechanical aspects of the systems are basic, the only real technological aspects are in the sensors, actuators and other switching mechanisms which make up the systems computerized network, which themselves are simple electronic devices controlled by electrical signals sent to or from a particulate device, most of which can be, troubleshot, fixed and or replaced with basic electronic skills, however the computers, mainframes and software would take a higher level of skill).
To perform practically any function in the Skechers warehouse, “you need to use a computer,” Benzeevi says. “It takes new skills.” Yet relatively few people have them. Even fewer are prepared for the kinds of jobs that may come next. (New skills? I guess Benzeevi hasn’t met a 5 year old kid and a Nintendo DS, Play Station, X-Box or a cell phone, they as well as many others have the skills, we use them every day, the bottom line is these mega warehouses along with the added technology cost jobs, even if Moreno Valley had a work force mainly in line with the high tech industries, these developments which are the only vision our City Council is focused on, will NOT supply the full potential or needs of employment within Moreno Valley).
Here is what John Husing; an economist in the Inland Empire had to say to Mr. Wartzman:
Even though he was the one who told Mr. Wartzman about the warehouse, marveling at the way “Nobody touches a box, nobody touches a shoe,” he believes that we’re in the midst of a classic structural shift in the economy. “Do I think there will be enough jobs?” he asks. “Yes, I do.” Then he adds: “How are you going to distribute the shoes? Somebody has to drive the trucks.”
In an article in the MIT Sloan Management Review last year, professor Erik Brynjolfsson and research scientist Andrew McAfee pointed out that less than a decade ago, truck driving was viewed as an occupation that would be difficult, if not impossible, to automate. But in 2010, Google announced that its driverless cars were hitting the road, and now Caterpillar is rolling out driverless trucks at an Australian mine. In short order, “real-world driving went from being an example of a task that couldn’t be automated to an example of one that was,” Brynjolfsson and McAfee wrote.
The duo, who co-authored the 2011 book Race Against the Machine, are convinced that, as Brynjolfsson has described it, “we’re having the automation and the job destruction,” but “we’re not having the creation at the same pace” anymore. Life will change for the better in many ways because of these breakthroughs. Consumers will delight in a wealth of new products, services, and experiences. But, say Brynjolfsson and McAfee, we “also need to start preparing for a technology-fueled economy that’s ever more productive but that just might not need a great deal of human labor.”
So when you here of this “Vision” by the members of the Moreno Valley City Council, and Highland Fairview’s Iddo Benzeevi, or it is used to counter any recall attempt in stating that a current council member’s recall will result in a loss of jobs for Moreno Valley, think twice about their “Vision.” When you hear Mayor Tom Owings call citizens “racists,” as he feels they are out to prevent Hispanics (whom he claims are under educated) from attaining employment by standing in the way of his “vision,” and the “Vision” of his fellow council member’s and Iddo Benzeevi, question what it is he is claiming, for according to the developer Iddo Benzeevi himself, there will be very little to NO job opportunities for those who normally work in unskilled, menial tasked, or undereducated labor fields, as these types of jobs are NOT within the “Vision” for their Moreno Valley.
When the UAW’s Walter Reuther visited a state-of-the-art Ford plant in Cleveland in 1954, the executive showing him around pointed to a series of automated loading machines. “How are you going to collect union dues from these guys?” the executive asked. Replied Reuther: “How are you going to get them to buy Fords?”
And there goes the statements by the Moreno Valley City Council and Highland Fairview about people who work here tend to spend their money here, and sales tax is our number one funding sorce for the city, so much for that “Vision” as well.
To read the entire article: The Robot Invasion by Rick Wartzman CLICK HERE