What is technology?
- The process of appyling the finding of science and other forms of enquiry to applied situation.
- Production technology therefore involves applying the work of researchers to develop new products and processes.
Production methods have changed as a result of new technology:
- New technology tends to make production faster, more efficient and more accurate.
- Can also make innovation easier.
- Computers make stock control easier, this is assisted by EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale).
- New technology can also improve quality control.
- Programmes such as CAD, CAM, Robotics and Automation have been produced to change element of production.
- The use of machinery to replace HR.
- Planning: Networks are constructed and manipulated by computers to see potential outcomes to changes.
- Operating: CAM uses robots in the production process, reducing human error and increasing productivity.
- Controlling: Computers monitor processes efficiently.
- Stock control: Is achieved in various ways:
- Computer programmes linked to sale stats.
- Computerised stock control systems allow stock to be checked quickly.
- Multiple-branch organisations can link up easily.
Automated stock control programs
- Integrated software and hardware is used to monitor the quantity, location and status of stocks.
- Stock control systems are also used to automate a sales order process.
- Reduces human intervention to a minimum.
- Used to regulate workflows.
- Not just confined to factories - any business can potentially be automated (e.g. call handling, forms)
- Used to replace humans for tasks that are dangerous, repetitive or boring.
Advantages to using robots
- Improve quality.
- Increase productivity.
- Increase precision.
- Allow flexible automation.
- Less waste.
- Handle boring, repetitive or hazardous tasks.
- Reduce unit costs.
Disadvantages to using robots
- Heavy up-front investment.
- De-motivating for displaced staff.
- Computers are used to help design products using computer-generated models and 3D drawings. It reduces the need to build physical models to test certain conditions, known as prototypes. This can be expensive to produce for just testing purposes.
- Solve design problems.
- Reduce lead time between initial design concept and production.
- Shorten lead time, increasing competitiveness.
- Allow infinite design themes.
- Allow modifications.
- Make virtual testing is a possibility.
- Reduce costs.
- A computer controls machinery to manufacture products.
- Reduces labour costs.
- Is more accurate and faster.
- Can work at any hour of the day.
- Increases flexibility.
- Cuts costs.
- Allows a fast production process.
The use of computer aided manufacture will still require skilled professionals.
Many companies now use technology to gather information about lifestyles and customer buying trends. This makes sure that promotions are targeting the right people.
Examples are loyalty cards that record customer info and can direct marketing specifically to them. Social networking websites are another way that a business can find out about its customers.
Developments in communicational technology have had a big impact on business culture - email may be demotivating, but it is quick and easy to use.
Flexi-work (flexible work arrangements e.g. working at home) has also been made easier by technology.
- Technology has revolutionised business communications.
- Significant implications for customer service and working closely with suppliers.
- Marketing process now widely affected by technology (e.g. email promotion).
Examples of mobile technology
- Laptop computers, PDAs
- Smart mobiles / Blackberry
- GPS devices
- Wireless / Bluetooth devices
- Facilitates flexible working.
- Better customer service.
- Connects remote teams.
Disadvantages of new technology (1)
- Cost: Development, installation and maintenance are costly. Businesses may also lay off staff meaning costly redundancy payments or retraining staff. It may mean reorganisation of production.
- Labour relations: Work/life balance. Trade Unions have resisted the implementation of technology due to the costs in terms of jobs.
- Job skills: Creates jobs which require new technical skills but replace manual jobs. It is not always possible to retrain the existing workforce.
- Breakdowns: Automated production lines are interdependent - if one part breaks down it all stops.
- Motivation: Some staff may dislike working with machines and reduced numbers of colleagues.
- Management: Management of technological change is considered difficult - primarily due to the rapid rate of change. When new technology is released managers have to decide whether to use that or wait for the next release - deciding when to invest is difficult.
- Unemployment: Much of new technology is labour saving and so on the production line unemployment may result. However, there is an increased need for people to design and manufacture the new computer programs.
Disadvantages of new technology (2)
- IT problems: Risk of infection by viruses. Updating of software to use more modern versions.
- Leisure time: People have gained more leisure time and need to learn to use it constructively - conversely, you are at work all the time.
- Ageing population: Medicine has beneffited from new technology, resulting in increased pressure on those in work to support the elderly. Demands on public funds will increase and the government will have to find the money for facilities to support the elderly.