Saturday, March 12, 2016 


Tech Tribulations

How to stay on top of advancements without becoming obsolete

Udo Jahn, Modern Engineering, Delta BC



donít think Iím alone in having this ailment, but thereís no medical doctor that can help me. When I wake up every morning, I find that the world has changed, and I know it will change again the next day.


The world I am talking about is the manufacturing world. The speed of change is becoming overwhelming and itís starting to give me a headache. Again, Iím sure Iím not the only one. 

You can see these rapid changes happening in all aspects of manufacturing. The ones that I relate to the most are in the machining industry. I have been around for a long time. Iím pretty sure I have been around since dirt was invented. In that time, Iíve seen the world accelerate at breakneck speed. I remember when I got my first electronic handheld calculator at the age of 11, and now I have a mobile phone that has more computing power than a 10 year old laptop, and can remotely monitor my house. 

Weíve seen similar levels of advancement in the manufacturing sector. There is not a day that goes by without someone trying something new in 3D printing. They are printing everything from metal parts to food to human tissue. With all this rapid advancement happening in manufacturing, itís really hard to keep up and therefore itís easy to get stressed out. Being stressed out leads to headaches, and thatís what I have right now. Even writing about the speed of advancement gives me a headache.

So what are we supposed to do with all this innovation? Well, I will tell you that a lot of people and companies are doing nothing, like they are frozen. Doing nothing is the result of being paralyzed by our quickly advancing world. Many companies have learned the hard way that any new technology they adopt today might become obsolete tomorrow. Itís like what happened to people who bought a BetaMax all those years ago. If youíre old enough to remember that, you know it was a bad choice.

Similarly in the machining industry, the bad headaches come from picking vendors or equipment that soon become obsolete. You make a large investment in manufacturing equipment and in a short period of time, the manufacturer has scrapped that piece of equipment for newer technology, or they go out of business entirely. Both of these things usually occur right after you bought the equipment. Thank Murphyís law for that. You may think this doesnít happen often in CNC machining, but since Iíve been around longer than dirt, I can tell you that it does come up more often than you think. 

With technology advancing as quickly as it is, you really need to carefully consider new and upcoming technologies when making a large purchase. If the technology you acquire does not have some future proofing in it, you are in danger of having technology that will not make your company or people competitive in the near future. This could become a huge headache for you. Technology aside, if you are dealing with companies who are struggling, then even if you purchase a piece of equipment that you feel is going to make you more competitive, the support you need in the future may not be there because the vendor no longer exists.

Itís a given that technology will constantly evolve as long as mankindís competitiveness is at the helm. I can assure you that it is tough enough to buy equipment with this in mind, especially in the manufacturing sector. Given that this is always happening, you need to make sure that the equipment you purchase is not last yearís technology that is going to be replaced soon, and that the vendor you buy the equipment from is going to be around to support it. 

That being said, I am going to buy an extra large bottle of headache medication since I think I feel another one coming on. Technology can be fun for some, and for others, well thatís what medication is for.


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