Our world has become reliant on innovative technological advancements — with this the case in both our homes and our businesses. However, as increasingly innovative and intelligent solutions are released, there’s often a split reaction between the digital innovators who want to be the first to implement them and those who hold back, preferring more traditional methods.
But there’s always been a conversation between those who are for technology and those who would like to opt back to using traditional methods. Discussing the stalemate between those who welcome change and those who shy away from it — we investigate further.
Acknowledging electricity as a commodity
The technological advancements we see today are ultimately because of the creation of electricity. Houghton International, a specialist in electric motor repair and rewinds, take a closer look.
Thomas Edison changed the game when he invented the light bulb in 1879 — which was soon followed by electricity-powered stations in 1881 across two continents. 12 months later and electricity was available as a commodity, changing industry forever.
During this time, a lot of factories were reliant on steam power which was generated from dangerous machinery. Once electricity was made available, this could all change — but it didn’t.
Only 5% of US factories in 1900 used electric motors, even though more benefits were received from using electric. Many preferred to rely on steam power as they were uncomfortable with the level of change brought about by the introduction of electric motors. It would trigger a change in thinking that many simply didn’t want to consider.
Despite the numerous benefits of implementing an electric motor and the associated performance efficiencies they could drive, the change would be disruptive. Production could take place following logic, rather than the direction of the driveshaft. Factories became safer and cleaner too, while the staff themselves began to set the pace.
Businesses resisted the change because their entire infrastructure would have to adapt for the electric motor. And with time, it did — as change always does. By the 1920s, manufacturing productivity had increased significantly, as factory owners increasingly implemented electric motors.
The 1920s saw manufacturing rates rise, but this was 40 years after electricity was first recognised as a commodity. Rather, we can only reap the benefits when we fully understand how best to use it.
It might not be the 1920s, but we’re still facing a similar technological vs traditional battle. Take electric motors themselves for example. While they have been fully adopted into many applications, business owners are still facing decisions on whether to upgrade their model to one that promises further efficiencies.
Industry 4.0 is opening the gap for disparity for those who enjoy the changes and those who do not. Dubbed the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 is transforming industries through automation and real-time data. One example of this is condition monitoring, the process of using technology to monitor the state of machinery to detect significant change and therefore problems.
From predictive maintenance to condition monitoring — techniques used include lubricant analysis and acoustic emissions. For those who have enabled Industry 4.0 already, they are already at an advantage, as they are able to anticipate when maintenance work will be required, in turn reducing the impact unplanned downtime can have. Those who are unaware of the potential of Industry 4.0 are unable to access this level of insight, putting them at an automatic disadvantage.
What benefits can businesses see from technological changes?
We’re living in a fast-paced society, and there will be future changes to the technology that we use today. So what advice can businesses benefit from?
When you’ve agreed upon which type of technology you want to implement into your business, you must fully understand the advantages you will receive and capabilities it will have in terms of business operation. Consider the amount of work that is required for implementation and whether this and the associated costs are justified by what you’ll gain. If in doubt, enlist the help of a professional to advise you on the right solution.
You can’t deny that technology is taking over, as it becomes the centre point for almost every business today. Shying away from digital advancements is no longer an option; choose to be an innovator or delay the implementation of these new developments. Either way, change is happening now — and you can’t afford to stand still.