Automation Reduces Friction — for People

Friction. This word doesn’t always mean what you think it means.

As an engineer, you have a certain understanding of the word “friction.” But it’s also used to describe human interactions and transactions.

Specifically, a transaction that flows smoothly without requiring attention is a transaction without friction.

You’re heading in to work with a lot on your mind. You know you want a tall half-caf matcha no sugar, you’re paying with a debit card, and you don’t want to have to spell your name. Stop at a kiosk and punch in the order, and the robo-barista shown above can make your order in 10 seconds. You still might have to stand in line, but you’ll wait silently, watching for your name to show up on the screen above the robot. And you won’t wait very long, since the robot is keeping a very fast pace. See your name, step up and grab your drink, and you’re outa there.

This is low friction.

A high friction transaction might include chatting in line, waiting for the person ahead of you to make up her mind, chatting with the human barista, spelling your name, paying, waiting while your drink is made, noticing that pecan roll while you’re waiting, adding it into your order with further chatting, paying again, waiting for your whole order to be gathered together, and then heading for your office. Possibly late. Certainly having forgotten that thing you were thinking about so deeply.

And you might not get a half-caf, either. Humans make mistakes.

On the other hand, you also didn’t get a pecan roll.

This is the vision of friction-free capitalism. It runs on our willingness to share information and possibly our unwillingness to interact with other human beings. It makes us more efficient, but also discourages us from thinking, making decisions, or listening to other people. If we go on to a low-friction job where we briskly head to our workstations and do our jobs without the interruption of thought, conversation, or birthday cake in the break room, we might just have too little friction in our lives.

That’s something to think about.

On the other hand, if you need support for your Rexroth electric motion control systems, you want the smallest possible amount of friction in your process of fixing the problem. Call us at (479) 422-0390 right away. We’ll have your problem solved — and your line up and running — before you have time to worry.

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