Peter VanRysdam / Digital Marketing / October 30th, 2007

Robots Will *NOT* Be Taking Our Jobs Anytime Soon

CD and DVD duplicatorCompanies in India and China?  That’s a different story.

Two interns, one of our brilliant support staff, and I huddled eagerly around our new toy: a CD/DVD duplicator.  With baited breath, we waited to observe as it automated a once mundane task, eliminating the need to sit in front of a CD burner for hours.  You see, from time to time we create an interactive disc for a client who only needs about 50 or 100.  It’s too small to outsource to our printers, and a pain to do by hand.  So this new robot is the answer.  Or is it?

We bought it several months ago, took it out of the box, and then called the manufacturer to send us the rest of the parts they forgot to ship.  Then, a few weeks later, we set it up.  Then we called the manufacturer to figure out why it wouldn’t recognize business card CD’s.  Then a few weeks later, we had out first project ready to go…for ourselves.  Our new marketing CD is dynamic so our sales staff can customize a presentation for a particular meeting or mailout.  Pretty cool, but the single point of failure is our CD duplicator, which until this point had been a significant point of failure.

So, anyhow, the interns, support team, and I gasped as the robotic arm swung in to motion, grabbing a disc and placing it in the burner.  We sat mesmerized as it then placed the disc in the label printer.  “Robots will take our jobs,” one intern remarked.  We all nodded in agreement.  That is, until the disc came out of the printer. 

The printer did a great job printing on some of the disc and some of the tray.  Then the arm took out the disc and basically threw it aside, rather than adding it to the designated spindle.  It got some discs right, but it also rammed its arm in to the cd trays on more than one occasion, seemingly forgetting it had just opened them. 

The biggest flaw was with the alignment.  Business card discs obviously aren’t round, which means they need to be laid precisely in the printer.  However this machine burns the disc first (which, as you know, involves considerable spinning), and doesn’t account for that when placing the disc haphazardly in the printer.  Weird.  Tech support: expect another call.

We were able to work out some of the kinks, but it is clear this machine will need some babysitting.  Is it better than doing them all by hand?  Sure, of course.  Are robots taking our jobs anytime soon?  Not unless your job is Japanese fan-waver/traditional dancer…then you’re just screwed.