Technological Advances and Staffing Levels

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Harlan Cage, 4 Jun 2015.

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  1. Harlan Cage

    Harlan Cage Member

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    Note: This thread has been split from the RMT and Network Rail strikes thread.

    Ultimately less staff more automation!
     
  2. Paul Sidorczuk

    Paul Sidorczuk Veteran Member

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    Just as a comparison to what is said above, I wonder how many W H Smith staff will eventually suffer the consequences of that new-fangled customer-processed till operation that the company introduced.

    Whenever I visit any of their larger high-street stores or railway station retail outlets, I now make a point of asking for a staff member to process my transactions. One time, a W H Smith"managerial-type" made the suggestion that this was a modern idea, to which I responded that if I had ever wished to perform the duties of a checkout operator, I would have joined a company to do that task as an employee...not as a customer....<(
     
  3. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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    Fair comment, and I probably said the same a few years ago. However, times change and many people are now happy to use self-service tills at many shops and supermarkets (and for tickets at train stations!).
     
  4. marks87

    marks87 Established Member

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    The hatred for self-service tills always amuses me. It's as if people see technology and immediately hate it.

    If you're physically capable of doing so, just use it. If you have any problems (that you haven't deliberately set out to cause), then ask for someone.

    Tempora mutantur and all that.
     
  5. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    i think you may be missing the point that some of us don't like to do people out of a job to save tesco a couple of quid! ;)
     
  6. marks87

    marks87 Established Member

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    Not that old chestnut again.

    If we avoided technological advancements in order to keep people in jobs, we'd never have moved out of the dark ages.
     
  7. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    This isn't a technological advancement at all. it is exactly the same technology the checkout operator uses! The only difference is that by removing the checkout operator and getting the shopper to scan their own produce you remove the need to pay someone to do the job.

    Now if that saving was turned back into lower prices for the customer rather than directors remuneration i might be more inclined to support such systems!
     
  8. GB

    GB Established Member

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    Does anyone know of anyone that has actually lost their job because of these self service tills?
     
  9. marks87

    marks87 Established Member

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    It is a technological advancement. The technology in checkouts is now capable of being squashed into smaller boxes and new software allows for simple touchscreen-based interaction.

    But the substantial difference is the checkout capacity. My local Asda replaced four basket-only ordinary checkouts with 10 self-service checkouts, more than doubling capacity. Even allowing for occasional problems and the need to approve certain purchases, it still reduces queues and lowers customer frustration.

    They also managed to replace two ordinary checkouts with four larger self-service ones (with a conveyor belt so can be used by those with trolleys). This was achieved because there's no need for space behind the checkout for an operator.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Not personally, no.

    My suspicion is that nobody lost their job, but as people left they simply weren't replaced.
     
  10. Minilad

    Minilad Established Member

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    Thus depriving someone else of a job. So yes the end result is less jobs. More profit. As I am sure prices didn't go down to reflect the reduced wage bill.
     
  11. marks87

    marks87 Established Member

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    Which has been the case for hundreds of years as technology has advanced and processes have become more efficient.
     
  12. Simon11

    Simon11 Member Jobs & Careers Assistant

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    Its just like saying we shouldn't use Computers anymore, because it takes away jobs from people working in administration. BR used to employ a huge amount of people to carry out these tasks.
     
  13. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    Obviously tedious, repetitive jobs have, are and will continue to be replaced by machine. But when you think about the enormous technological advances that have been made in, say, the last 30 years, that hasn't translated into high unemployment. In fact, there was more unemployment 30 years ago than now. There is simply more productivity as there are more humans available to do jobs that machines can't do. In short, we used to have just humans, now we have both humans and machines so more work gets done.
     
  14. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Doesn't seem to be working that way for Tesco...
     
  15. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    I was in Asda once when there were three members of staff helping on the self service tills and another one asking people at the other tills if they would like to use self service. I didn't count the number working the old fashioned tills but it wasn't much more than five or six.

    I don't object if some people are happy to use self service (and I think they deserve a discount) what I don't like is the apparently wasteful way it is implemented.
     
  16. crehld

    crehld Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    My wife works for Sainsburys. When they introduced the self service check outs they actually employed more staff to help customers. They're not about cutting staff costs (they actually increase them) but getting more people through the tills more quickly to part with their hard earned cash.
     
  17. Paul Sidorczuk

    Paul Sidorczuk Veteran Member

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    In my usually known seeking for the most oblique of comparisons to the despair of many on this website, this could well have been said in the post-Russian revolution days when some of the former aristocracy left to live were put on demeaning manual labour work programmes.

    I may well live in the "Northern Provinces", a term that as one being resident there despairs whensoever it is heard uttered by those southern-based exponants of patronisation, but my area is that of the very best part of the Cheshire Golden Triangle where we still see the benefits of employing good honest fully-trained workmen to perform tasks that we are neither capable of nor ones that we could achieve to the same standard of excellance.

    Being not only a holder of a First in Mathematics (achieved some 49 years ago in 1966), but also a Classics scholar (Greek, Assyrian and Latin) I do indeed recognise your Latin exhortation, to which I duly respond with one of my own..."Patricii regula et plebis operari"
     
  18. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    I would have thought an experienced operator could do the job much quicker than the average shopper. But then what do I know?

    By the way I voted with my feet and do most of my shopping at Aldi, as more and more people are doing.
     
    Last edited: 5 Jun 2015
  19. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    If we want to stop that, we need to stop the race to the bottom and have to allow companies to compete on quality rather than price by not just paying rock bottom for everything.

    People complain about the service from car insurers, for example, when 99% of people simply compare price and nothing else.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    They can, but a manual till takes up more space, and costs more (when you pay for the human) than several automated ones.

    Of course Aldi has a very effective system - because you repack your trolley as your stuff is scanned and pack it into your bags away from the checkout, the checkout operator is used much more efficiently and is as such affordable even with the low prices.

    I like Aldi and would use it more if there was one nearer me.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    And this is how it often works with TVMs as well. Milton Keynes Central has the same number of windows[1] as it ever had, but it also has either 6 or 7 TVMs (I think) which are squashed into a space where no further windows would fit. Thus the queues are reduced over what they would be if there were just windows.

    [1] To be fair the Travel Centre was closed, but so many advance bookings have moved online that I would expect this had little actual effect, particularly as nobody but a madman turns up and tries to do a complex advance booking at peak times.
     
  20. crehld

    crehld Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    Depends what it is. Off you're talking about a big shop then yes the staff are quicker. If you're talking a basket full then the self service checkout probably wins. Also you can fit a bank of 6 self service checkouts in the space of one traditional checkout. So even if the self service ones take twice as long to process a transaction, more transactions have been completed overall.
     
  21. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    So I was right, I don't know much.
     
  22. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    I have a very good friend who in the past was responsible for implementing self service tills for a major supermarket.

    The prime reason for doing them is to increase throughput, not to save wages. You can get twice as many self service tills in a given space as for staffed 'express' tills, and 4 times as many as for normal tills. Even allowing for slightly longer transaction times*, it means more transactions at busier times for a given size supermarket. The new card only tills in Tescos are even smaller (and quicker).

    The people formerly employed on the tills are more often than not filling the shelves, as they empty more quickly.

    Anyone who has been to Tescos on Bishopsgate or Tooley St in London will know that the stores simply would not function without the auto tills.

    In my view Morrisons have made a huge mistake in promising to remove them all from every store. Their tills were hopeless, and in my local Morrisions people avoided them simply because they didn't ever work properly. All they needed to do was sort that out (like other stores have done) and people would be happy.


    *I have got my transaction time for lunch down to under 10 seconds with contactless on the card only machines, far quicker than is possible with a conventional checkout. I much prefer them.
     
  23. marks87

    marks87 Established Member

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    Reductio ad absurdum.

    I didn't bother going past this point with your post. Sorry.
     
  24. Paul Sidorczuk

    Paul Sidorczuk Veteran Member

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    I am sure that you most certainly did, but was then peeved to find that I too could produce a Latin motto to equally well fit the discussed situation.

    If you took the time to read what I had written, I did say that I am prone to finding somewhat oblique comparisons and it was to the highlighted part in your earlier posting to which I then so replied...:roll:
     
  25. Senex

    Senex Established Member

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    If only it were possible to find such good honest fully-trained workmen more readily I'm sure I shouldn't be the only one much more willing to pay than to try and do something himself.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Do you find the contactless card works reliably? I have constant problems with mine on the M&S self-service tills (and my local Tesco doesn't operate contactless).
     
  26. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    Has my bill at the store gone down because of all of this wonderful "new" technology? Has it balls!

    Show me some evidence that these wonderful "new" tills, which seem to reject about 1 in 3 of the things I buy, make my bill as a shopper cheaper and i will support binning off all the checkout operators and replacing them with machines. Until then.........

    PS as for new they still seem to scan a bar code with a beam of light. I am fairly sure that is the same system in use when i worked in a super market many years ago!
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    PPS - if we are doing Latin this should be appropriate to supermarkets:

    ab ovo usque ad mala
     
  27. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Yep. I would say 100% reliable, but I had my first ever failure of contactless on Monday. And that was at a staffed till. That would be the first failure in about 500 uses, so a much better rate of reliability compared to checkout staff getting the change wrong, which happens about 1:50 times. (Roughly half of which I challenge ;))
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    It is, of course, impossible to say whether your shopping bill has gone down as a direct result of introducing auto-tills. However in the price competitive market that supermarkets are in, efficiencies they make do get passed on, at least in part, to customers in the form of lower prices. (My wife has been a buyer at 2 of the big 5 major supermarkets, and confirms). Hence why most of the regular items in my shopping cost the same or less than they did 10-15 years ago, despite RPI being 30-50% higher.

    Also, unless you use the hopeless tills in Morrisons, the auto tills reduce your queue time, and time = money, so it is worth something to you.

    Auto tills are just an extension of the concept of TVMs. Or a cashpoint. Etc.

    Edit: Mrs BR has just confirmed that our local 'Scottish Restaurant' has installed self service tills, to help reduce queue time. They are widely used in the same chain in France, and work brilliantly.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jun 2015
  28. Senex

    Senex Established Member

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    That was the standard DDR supermarket system but I never saw it in the BRD -- rather they went in for checkouts were your goods could be sent into one of two or three areas for you to pack whilst the next customer was being served. How interesting that Aldi should be using that very good system.

    I only wish there were an Aldi (or even better, a Lidl) near me, but there isn't.
     
  29. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    Don't worry, I'm sure there will be soon.
     
  30. marks87

    marks87 Established Member

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    Why are you obsessing over your bills?

    It's been mentioned several times in this thread that the purpose is to increase customer throughput. That doesn't necessarily translate into massive savings for the shop, but it does allow more customers to be served, reducing queues and increasing customer satisfaction.

    I can confidently say that the checkouts you use do not "reject about 1 in 3 of the things [you] buy". Not least because they're connected to the same system as the manned checkouts that you seem to think work perfectly.

    Are you now being deliberately obtuse, or do you genuinely not see the difference between a small checkout operated by the customer and the larger checkout space required to accommodate an operator as well as allowing customers through?
     
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