Automation is certainly nothing new here along the SouthCoast. Automated gadgetry has been replacing humans in performing menial tasks for years, but the transition to an even greater reliance on automation is quickening, and there are several reasons why.

Before the pandemic, minimally-skilled workers in Massachusetts and elsewhere began demanding increased wages and benefits. Those demands and new government regulations, staggering utility costs, and other financial burdens facing employers resulted in new forms of automation.

The cost of doing business in Massachusetts was cutting too deeply into the profit margin. Something had to give.

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SouthCoasters have been pumping their gasoline for years.

Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
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Customer-operated car washes are nothing new, nor are automated bank tellers.

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Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
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Buffet-style restaurants where you serve yourself are popular here and everywhere. Customers use menu boards to place their orders and a remote pad to pay their bills.

Back in 2018, we had the introduction of McDonald's automated ordering system here on the SouthCoast.

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WBSM 1420AM via YouTube
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We can even bottle our own water.

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Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
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What is expanding rapidly in our area is self-checkout at grocery and department stores. Stop & Shop stores in New Bedford, Fairhaven, and Dartmouth have added additional self-checkout registers.

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Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
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A shortage of workers has developed since the pandemic, leaving many retail stores and restaurants short-staffed. One employee managing self-checkout registers can do the work that once required a handful of people.

Walmart has added new self-checkout registers as well.

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Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
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Even Savers in New Bedford has gone from no self-checkout registers to almost exclusively self-checkout.

Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
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And of course, there is Marty, the Stop & Shop robot, who joined the staff several years ago. Stop & Shop plans to add more robots in the future. It won't be long before others follow Stop & Shop's lead.

Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
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The move to automation is quickening here along the SouthCoast and everywhere else, and I think it is here to stay.

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