The SouthCoast continues to automate
Automation is certainly nothing new here along the south coast. Automated gadgets have replaced humans in performing menial tasks for years, but the transition to an even greater reliance on automation is accelerating, and there are several reasons for this.
Before the pandemic, low-skilled workers in Massachusetts and elsewhere began demanding higher wages and benefits. These demands and new government regulations, astronomical utility costs, and other financial burdens faced by employers have driven new forms of automation.
The cost of doing business in Massachusetts was cutting into the profit margin too deeply. Something had to give.
The SouthCoasters have been pumping their gasoline for years.
Customer-operated car washes are not new, nor are ATMs.
Buffet-style, self-serve restaurants are popular here and everywhere. Customers use menu boards to place their orders and a remote control to pay their bills.
In 2018 we had the introduction of McDonald’s automated ordering system here on the south coast.
We can even bottle our own water.
What is growing rapidly in our region is self-service in grocery stores and department stores. Stop & Shop stores in New Bedford, Fairhaven and Dartmouth have added additional self-checkouts.
A shortage of workers has developed since the pandemic, leaving many retail stores and restaurants short-staffed. An employee who manages self-checkouts can do the work that once required a handful of people.
Walmart has also added new self-checkout registers.
Even New Bedford savers have gone from no self-checkouts to almost exclusively self-checkouts.
And of course, there’s Marty, the Stop & Shop robot, who joined the team a few years ago. Stop & Shop plans to add more robots in the future. It won’t belong until others follow Stop & Shop’s lead.
The shift to automation is accelerating here along the South Coast and everywhere else, and I think it’s here to stay.