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Technology pays; it doesn't cost.

Technology pays; it doesn't cost

I've seen this many times in the past. Mention the word "technology," and up goes a wall, blocking out objectivity. The initial connotation of the term implies some sort of mystique, like the buzzword "productivity" when it first became popular in the `60s. The initial reaction of most was, "Now we have to work harder," when the better response was to work smarter, employ better methods to produce more goods and services with less effort.

Now, technology, the new word on the block, is being similarly misunderstood. Webster's New World Dictionary defines it as "the science of the practical or industrial arts." That doesn't sound mysterious to me. I perceive it as taking advantage of improvements in previously improved-upon concepts. Although that's my perception of it, it is also true that reality can oftentimes be lost in the manipulation of perception.

More to the point, only by implementing all of the available proven technology pertaining to your world will you become more productive and able to compete in today's world marketplace. It may surprise some that we've been dealing in a global market situation for about 15 years; not something that occurred just within the past year or so.

For example, some may remember back in the mid `60s when firms from abroad first began to establish themselves in the US. I do. In 1969, I was employed by a very aggressive and progressive West German firm getting started here - one of six initial employees. Today, they employ about 250 here. Incidentally, they not only serve the US market, but exports as well. What is significant here is that what they had done was to simply take an old, proven, practical concept of applying technology and applying it well. Also significant is that they reinvested 30% of total sales in R&D. Today, they are recognized as world leaders in their field.

I could go on and on, but I know most people in manufacturing have for some time now come to the conclusion that many of our manufacturing disciplines must be changed. This was confirmed as recently as IMTS-90 by such comments as "We have to reduce setup time," "Our turnaround time is too slow," "We can't wait for fixturing," "We need to solve our checking-fixture problems," "We can't afford fixtures just for prototype work," and "Our fixturing costs are eating us alive!"

The reality here is that change will be a requisite to accomplish these objectives. This, too, is oftentimes scary. Leaving the known for the unknown. But, isn't that what allows technology to either lead the way or fail? You'll never know unless you try! You've heard the cliches, "The only constant is change," and "Not to change is to perish." Hard words, but true. Technology could be equated to this definition of success: Failure turned inside out!

Typically, new and innovative ways need to be championed. They need the support of all concerned from the shop floor to the president's chair. Without total commitment, they'll never really succeed. The prime benefactor of change can be good old-fashioned job enrichment at all levels--accomplished by striving to seek out and identify the least-glamorous, most boring, mundane task, and then apply technology to make it better. After all, continuous improvement is the objective of a successful company today.

Our business is workholding, one of the themes of this issue of Tooling & Production. This is a topic that historically generates more interest than any other category pertaining to manufacturing. Meeting workholding objectives is one of the biggest headaches industry faces today.

By Donald H Koch President Flexible Fixturing Systems Inc East Granby, CT
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Koch, Donald H.
Publication:Tooling & Production
Article Type:column
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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