Future skills in construction

Welcoming the benefits of new technology into your business: a piece by Houghton International

  • 26 Jun 2018

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In an article researched and written by Houghton International, electric motor repair specialists, the debate between the innovators who want to be the first to implement new digital opportunities and those who hold back, preferring more traditional methods is discussed.


A technological breakthrough: electricity

What allows us to use the technology we’ve become so familiar with is electricity — a true milestone in terms of technological advancements.

The late 1870s witnessed the invention of the light bulb by Thomas Edison — who later introduced electricity generating stations in both America and England. 12 months later and electricity was available as a commodity, changing industry forever.

Although during this period, the majority of factories were run by steam power, powered by dangerous machinery. Once electricity was made available, this could all change — but it didn’t.

The introduction of electricity wasn’t received with open arms, in fact only 5% of US factories were powered by electric motors. 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.

Many thought that the change to electricity would be disruptive, despite the performance it could deliver to a business. 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.

However, factories not wanting to change was understandable — as the business’ entire infrastructure would have to adapt to this new-found advancement. And with time, it did — as change always does. By the 1920s, manufacturing productivity had increased significantly, as factory owners increasingly implemented electric motors.

Businesses have not looked back since implementing electricity, but it did take them 40 years to acknowledge electricity as a commodity where in the ‘20s — manufacturing rates increased. Rather, we can only reap the benefits when we fully understand how best to use it.

The big debate

There’s still a big debate around both technological opportunities and resorting back to traditional options. 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 has opened an area for larger discussion for those who are in favour of technical changes and those who are 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.

This technology exceeds in predictive maintenance and can monitor conditions that include vibrations and lubricant analysis — not only that, but acoustic emissions too. 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.

Utilising the advantages of modern technology

Technology is allowing us to expand further afield — and with our society constantly innovating, there’s no sign of developments slowing down. So what advice can businesses benefit from?

When you’re planning to implement technology into your business, it’s important to understand fully what benefits these will bring. 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.

In 2018, technology is at the heart of our operations. 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.

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