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Machine over Man

General discussions of the systemic, societal and civilisational effects of depletion.

Machine over Man

Unread postby AdamB » Thu 12 Oct 2017, 21:02:23

Gone are the days when manual labour drove the bulk of the work in oil and gas exploration. In a post-peak-oil era, in which resources are harder to extract and oil prices continue to plunge, the race towards automation means higher profitability — and less human error. Out on the oil patch, opportunity comes to the firm that can do the job more safely, cheaply and quickly. “The motivation for technical innovation has always been threefold,” says Mark Salkeld, president and chief executive officer of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) in Calgary. “First and always foremost, companies are striving to improve safety. Second, to reduce costs and improve margins, and third, to gain the edge that will win them the next contract.” Salkeld served in the oil and gas business for 36 years before joining PSAC, the national trade association ...


"Machine over Man"
Peak oil in 2020: And here is why: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b3ttqYDwF0
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby Tanada » Thu 12 Oct 2017, 21:30:01

I still think human labor will make a big comeback in a truly post peak economy. Not necessarily in the short term, but years down the road when people accept it is cheaper to pay two guys to cud down your tree rather than use a gallon of gasoline in the chainsaw engine plus the pint of bar oil to keep the chain lubricated.

The petroleum energy slaves are great, as long as they are cheaper than the worker just trying to get enough to feed themselves+spouse/family.
I should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write, balance accounts, build a wall, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby rockdoc123 » Thu 12 Oct 2017, 22:05:17

The main issue that automation on drilling rigs is trying to address is safety. As the article states head count on the lease doesn't decrease. What does decrease is the number of dimwits on the floor making connections, or swinging pipe on the monkey boards. Some of this innovation has been around for a long time. At one of the companies I was with the usual procedure when operating in a country where you had to use local labor was to emply the mechanical tool push. This avoided screwups on the floor improving both up time and removing a lot of lost time incidents.

Although in the article Mark (who I know) makes it seem like automation on rigs is fully deployed that really isn't the case. It is, however, making inroads. Cost savings are there but perhaps not as great as some need to push them towards change.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Fri 13 Oct 2017, 06:29:58

Tanada wrote:I still think human labor will make a big comeback in a truly post peak economy. Not necessarily in the short term, but years down the road when people accept it is cheaper to pay two guys to cud down your tree rather than use a gallon of gasoline in the chainsaw engine plus the pint of bar oil to keep the chain lubricated.

The petroleum energy slaves are great, as long as they are cheaper than the worker just trying to get enough to feed themselves+spouse/family.

You picked a poor example there. Considering the amount of wood you can cut down and block up running a gallon of 50;1 gas through a sharp saw, gas would have to be north of $150 per gallon before I'd park the saw and take an end on a cross cut blade. It certainly will be years before that happens.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby Tanada » Fri 13 Oct 2017, 07:39:34

vtsnowedin wrote:
Tanada wrote:I still think human labor will make a big comeback in a truly post peak economy. Not necessarily in the short term, but years down the road when people accept it is cheaper to pay two guys to cud down your tree rather than use a gallon of gasoline in the chainsaw engine plus the pint of bar oil to keep the chain lubricated.

The petroleum energy slaves are great, as long as they are cheaper than the worker just trying to get enough to feed themselves+spouse/family.

You picked a poor example there. Considering the amount of wood you can cut down and block up running a gallon of 50;1 gas through a sharp saw, gas would have to be north of $150 per gallon before I'd park the saw and take an end on a cross cut blade. It certainly will be years before that happens.


If you read my second sentence carefully you will note I specified "Years down the road".

I do not expect this change to take place overnight however as a historian I look at decadal time scales, as well as singular events. People keep touting the robot revolution when human labor will be extinguished. All such projections are based on one fundamental root, energy to build, maintain and operate that machinery will be cheaper than hiring a half starved day laborer to do the same task. Sooner or later your chainsaw will need new parts, or need complete replacement. In a world where energy is very expensive you will be faced with the choice of spending a lot to maintain or replace that chainsaw, or paying the hungry local laborer meals and a few coins to do the same work. Farm hands and ranch hands never got rich, but they also never went hungry and had at least a shed to sleep in out of the rain and snow. That is what the world looked like before cheap energy from coal arrived in the early 1800's, and it had looked like that for at least 3,000 years everywhere there was agriculture. Sure some places were much nicer for laborers but even 3,000 years ago a hired shepherd could count on meals and a tent to sleep in and escape the weather.
I should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write, balance accounts, build a wall, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby asg70 » Fri 13 Oct 2017, 09:47:38

Tanada wrote:In a world where energy is very expensive


Which is a huge hypothetical.

How do we go from our current glut condition to a world where energy is so expensive that manufacturing starts to break down and the world effectively de-industrializes?

I could envision that maybe 10+ years ago but given current trends towards a lithium economy and waves of automation, the day of reckoning seems quite far in the future, far enough that it would be more reasonable to be concerned about looming climate impacts than energy security.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Fri 13 Oct 2017, 10:32:20

asg70 wrote:
Tanada wrote:In a world where energy is very expensive


Which is a huge hypothetical.

How do we go from our current glut condition to a world where energy is so expensive that manufacturing starts to break down and the world effectively de-industrializes?

I could envision that maybe 10+ years ago but given current trends towards a lithium economy and waves of automation, the day of reckoning seems quite far in the future, far enough that it would be more reasonable to be concerned about looming climate impacts than energy security.

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Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby Subjectivist » Fri 13 Oct 2017, 18:30:49

asg70 wrote:
Tanada wrote:In a world where energy is very expensive


Which is a huge hypothetical.

How do we go from our current glut condition to a world where energy is so expensive that manufacturing starts to break down and the world effectively de-industrializes?

I could envision that maybe 10+ years ago but given current trends towards a lithium economy and waves of automation, the day of reckoning seems quite far in the future, far enough that it would be more reasonable to be concerned about looming climate impacts than energy security.


No human civilization is eternal. Your statement implies the current civilization will shrug off peak oil and go along its merry way. You also imply the glut will last for a long time and that lithium mining will solve energy problems despite the still growing world population. That is far less than assured, to put it mildly.
II Chronicles 7:14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby ralfy » Fri 13 Oct 2017, 22:34:29

Lower life expectancy rates will also make a big comeback.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby Tanada » Sat 14 Oct 2017, 06:44:07

ralfy wrote:Lower life expectancy rates will also make a big comeback.


To a large extent that depends on the cause of mortality. So long as vaccinations for childhood illnesses remain prevalent infant mortality and childhood death rates will remain pretty low, and that is the biggest factor in overall lifespan stats. People like to throw out the 'average life expectancy was 35' statistic and ignore the fact that half of all children died before age 21 and a quarter of all pregnancies were stillborn to died from disease by age 5. That enormous childhood mortality rate makes a total average strongly skewed to low numbers. The truth was, if you made it to 21 the odds were good you would live to about 62, which is a respectable age compared to the 35 so frequently touted and a large percentage of the 78 we have achieved recently. The reality is in the USA and Europe where good statistics have been kept the average age at death of those who reached 21 was 62 in 1935. That is why SSI insurance was set to start paying out at 62, to provide comfort to the elderly in their last year or so of life. If the 'retirement age' of SSI had been set to remain the bottom number of the average life expectancy of adults it would now be 75 or older and there wouldn't be any worry about funding the program.

For most of western history 21 was considered to be the age of adulthood, you could not vote before then because you were considered to be emotionally immature before that age. In the USA this was changed in the 1970's when it was argued successfully that drafting 18 year old's and sending them off to war before they could vote for the leaders making the decision to go to war was unjust. Naturally the other option of setting the draft age to 21 would have achieved the same kind of solution more simply, but show me the last time the Government took the logical course of action.
I should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write, balance accounts, build a wall, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Sat 14 Oct 2017, 07:56:56

Tanada wrote:For most of western history 21 was considered to be the age of adulthood, you could not vote before then because you were considered to be emotionally immature before that age. In the USA this was changed in the 1970's when it was argued successfully that drafting 18 year old's and sending them off to war before they could vote for the leaders making the decision to go to war was unjust. Naturally the other option of setting the draft age to 21 would have achieved the same kind of solution more simply, but show me the last time the Government took the logical course of action.
Another take on that is that in the agricultural labor intensive past the age of majority being 21 was to allow the farmer to hold his sons as indentured servants long enough to payback the cost of raising them. From fifteen to twenty-one a young man put in six years of manual labor and even if he worked in a factory for wages those wages belonged to his father. The girls were married off at fourteen to fifteen but that didn't matter as they couldn't ever vote anyway.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby ralfy » Sun 15 Oct 2017, 02:45:18

Tanada wrote:
To a large extent that depends on the cause of mortality. So long as vaccinations for childhood illnesses remain prevalent infant mortality and childhood death rates will remain pretty low, and that is the biggest factor in overall lifespan stats. People like to throw out the 'average life expectancy was 35' statistic and ignore the fact that half of all children died before age 21 and a quarter of all pregnancies were stillborn to died from disease by age 5. That enormous childhood mortality rate makes a total average strongly skewed to low numbers. The truth was, if you made it to 21 the odds were good you would live to about 62, which is a respectable age compared to the 35 so frequently touted and a large percentage of the 78 we have achieved recently. The reality is in the USA and Europe where good statistics have been kept the average age at death of those who reached 21 was 62 in 1935. That is why SSI insurance was set to start paying out at 62, to provide comfort to the elderly in their last year or so of life. If the 'retirement age' of SSI had been set to remain the bottom number of the average life expectancy of adults it would now be 75 or older and there wouldn't be any worry about funding the program.

For most of western history 21 was considered to be the age of adulthood, you could not vote before then because you were considered to be emotionally immature before that age. In the USA this was changed in the 1970's when it was argued successfully that drafting 18 year old's and sending them off to war before they could vote for the leaders making the decision to go to war was unjust. Naturally the other option of setting the draft age to 21 would have achieved the same kind of solution more simply, but show me the last time the Government took the logical course of action.


I think the increase in life expectancy involved more than vaccinations, the global population was much smaller then, the level of ecological damage much greater now (not to mention global warming), and the level of armaments production and availability unprecedented.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Sun 15 Oct 2017, 06:31:30

ralfy wrote:
I think the increase in life expectancy involved more than vaccinations, the global population was much smaller then, the level of ecological damage much greater now (not to mention global warming), and the level of armaments production and availability unprecedented.

I've read somewhere that the largest factor in increased life expectancy has been the introduction safe drinking water and proper sewage disposal in our urban areas. The running hot water we have in even our poorest housing makes our lives so much healthier then the world standard right up to Victorian times.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Sun 15 Oct 2017, 06:35:55

baha wrote:For a tree hugger, I really love chainsaw's. :) I don't think a better more useful tool has ever been invented. The amount of work one person can do is amazing. I have used a crosscut saw. It would take a day to do the work a chainsaw can do in about 15 minutes.

But I hate 2-stroke engines. They are dirty and run rough. I used to spend as much time maintaining as using them. The efficiency is pitiful. So I replaced mine with a cordless lithium powered unit. I take the battery from the off-grid solar powered charger and plug it in the saw and start cutting. It still uses bar oil but there is no smoke or noise involved. I have two 4 amp hour batteries that will do me for about an hour. And the price of cordless tool batteries is falling fast. I know it won't last forever, but for now, the only infrastructure I need is a quart of bar oil/year.

Our Lithium slaves are ready to step up to the plate. They may not be as strong, but they are very clean-cut and efficient. :)

BTW - I also have a 15' pole saw, string trimmer, drill, impact driver, skill saw, sawzall, radio, light, and air compressor. All use the same battery packs and all solar powered :)

Interesting. Who makes the electric saw unit and how much does it weigh in operation? Add in a solar powered wood splitter (there are small electric ones) and you would have a very quite wood yard.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Sun 15 Oct 2017, 07:23:52

baha wrote:My stuff is Ryobi.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Ryobi-ONE-10 ... /206481858

I went with the 18v since it is compatible with all my other tools. But I am lusting after a 40v unit. Those batteries also work with a cordless lawnmower.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Ryobi-14-in- ... /204589654

I still have my gas saw. I wouldn't use the cordless for anything bigger than 8" diameter and it is nowhere near as fast as a gas saw, but it doesn't dull the blade as fast. But I expect the 40v to be just like a gas saw.

Well a 14 inch homeowners saw with (anti kickback) chain perhaps but not just like a real saw. But still a lot better then an axe or buck saw.
And there is no reason they can't build an electric saw with full sized bar and aggressive chain if gas got expensive enough.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby evilgenius » Sun 15 Oct 2017, 10:07:29

baha wrote:For a tree hugger, I really love chainsaw's. :) I don't think a better more useful tool has ever been invented. The amount of work one person can do is amazing. I have used a crosscut saw. It would take a day to do the work a chainsaw can do in about 15 minutes.

But I hate 2-stroke engines. They are dirty and run rough. I used to spend as much time maintaining as using them. The efficiency is pitiful. So I replaced mine with a cordless lithium powered unit. I take the battery from the off-grid solar powered charger and plug it in the saw and start cutting. It still uses bar oil but there is no smoke or noise involved. I have two 4 amp hour batteries that will do me for about an hour. And the price of cordless tool batteries is falling fast. I know it won't last forever, but for now, the only infrastructure I need is a quart of bar oil/year.

Our Lithium slaves are ready to step up to the plate. They may not be as strong, but they are very clean-cut and efficient. :)

BTW - I also have a 15' pole saw, string trimmer, drill, impact driver, skill saw, sawzall, radio, light, and air compressor. All use the same battery packs and all solar powered :)


Yeah, man, gas powered chainsaws are great, until they won' t start. I've been looking at the electric variety. I saw one at Harbor Freight. It wasn't that expensive, but I don't need it headed into winter.
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Re: Machine over Man

Unread postby GHung » Sun 15 Oct 2017, 11:02:11

evilgenius wrote:
baha wrote:For a tree hugger, I really love chainsaw's. :) I don't think a better more useful tool has ever been invented. The amount of work one person can do is amazing. I have used a crosscut saw. It would take a day to do the work a chainsaw can do in about 15 minutes.

But I hate 2-stroke engines. They are dirty and run rough. I used to spend as much time maintaining as using them. The efficiency is pitiful. So I replaced mine with a cordless lithium powered unit. I take the battery from the off-grid solar powered charger and plug it in the saw and start cutting. It still uses bar oil but there is no smoke or noise involved. I have two 4 amp hour batteries that will do me for about an hour. And the price of cordless tool batteries is falling fast. I know it won't last forever, but for now, the only infrastructure I need is a quart of bar oil/year.

Our Lithium slaves are ready to step up to the plate. They may not be as strong, but they are very clean-cut and efficient. :)

BTW - I also have a 15' pole saw, string trimmer, drill, impact driver, skill saw, sawzall, radio, light, and air compressor. All use the same battery packs and all solar powered :)


Yeah, man, gas powered chainsaws are great, until they won' t start. I've been looking at the electric variety. I saw one at Harbor Freight. It wasn't that expensive, but I don't need it headed into winter.


Besides my 4 gas powered saws I have one of those Harbor Freight (AC) electric saws in the wood shed for cutting kindling and smaller stove wood. Works great and only cost $35 with their 'super coupon'. As for 'headed into winter', that's when I need my saws the most since we heat with solar and wood. I only need about 10 gallons of fuel per year to keep my saws going. Use only ethanol-free fuel and run my saws dry of fuel at the end of a job (goes to starting problems mentioned above). My saws always start with 1-2 pulls. I also keep several sharp chains handy for each saw.

I'm looking at an electric splitter for the wood shed to partner with my big hoss partly homebuilt gas splitter. I got an old 27 ton Troy Built splitter ($50) with a bad engine and pump. Doubled the horsepower with an old Generac engine and installed a bigger pump. Works great on big oak knots and locust (my favorite wood fuel).
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