05.16.18 George Mathew

Exploring the Future of Industrial Work at the 2018 National Governors Association Summit

I recently had the honor of addressing U.S. and Mexican Governors, and Canadian Premiers about the transformation of industrial work at the 2018 National Governors Association (NGA) Summit, held in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was part of a session titled “The North American Region’s Role in a Globalized Economy.”

A key concern on everyone’s mind was addressing the fact that we live in a time of profound change. Between 2000 and 2014, the U.S. lost 5 million manufacturing jobs [1]. During that same period, the construction sector lost 700,000 jobs [2]. And yet between 1973 and 2014, the Economic Policy Institute says productivity went up 72%.

So, employment has dramatically gone down in Industrial sectors, yet we’re more productive than any point in human history. The driving force of this dichotomy is the role technology plays in automating these sectors. In recent years, the resurgence of artificial intelligence and machine learning may only be accelerating this unevenly-distributed future. Clearly, this widening skills gap in industrial labor needs to be addressed to transcend this period of dislocation.

I spoke to the governors and premiers about how Kespry and others like us are focused on fixing this imbalance. Our drones and cloud platform are used in the construction, mining, aggregates, and insurance sectors to generate better analytical outcomes. Kespry drones are autonomous, meaning they fly on their own with no joysticks. We then leverage AI and machine learning to enable industrial workers to collect actionable data on a worksite.

We don’t believe this generation of industrial workers should be left behind. We can make them more efficient, more productive and safer—all while contributing to the economic advancements of the organizations they serve. Our products are changing the lives of industrial workers from millennials to baby boomers for the better. We’re here to make them more relevant with the right technical skills during this period of profound dislocation.

Our customers consistently validate that this technology is helping create jobs and extending careers. Mike Moy is an operations analyst at LeHigh Hanson, a major U.S. aggregates company. He’s having trouble recruiting new workers today for high-paying jobs. He wants us to know that technology like drone-based surveying has opened up employment at his company. LeHigh Hanson is focused on training and retraining workers across all ages to meet their industry’s evolving demands.

I previously mentioned the safety benefits of our technology. Dan Liechty, a project engineer at D&T, an earthworks company in Oregon, speaks of our drones preventing them from sending employees out to climb to the top of tall, dangerous stockpiles going as high as 50 feet. So, drones help them do their jobs more effectively and keep them out of harm’s way, while extending careers by providing them with new skill sets.

Of course, when addressing governors and premiers, we couldn’t ignore policy and regulations. Kespry believes we need to continue building unified national policies that enable the expansion of industrial work. We believe drone regulations across North America should be deployed and overseen at their respective national level. There are states and provinces that understandably may favor more local controls. But our view is strong national airspace policies that enable drones to be seamlessly applied for industrial work, benefit both workers and society at large. Getting these regulations right and deploying them effectively are key for broad scale adoption.

We see technology and innovation as having positive multiplier effects across society for the individual, companies and nation-states. Whether you’re an industrial worker, a CEO, a governor, or premier; innovation contributes to our collective well-being. Kespry encourages policies that continue to benefit everyone.

An incredibly valuable dialog started with the governors and premiers at the NGA Summit. I look forward to continuing conversations with its members in the future.

George Mathew
Chairman and CEO, Kespry

[1] Economic Policy Institute
[2] Bureau of Labor Statistics