Technology is the process of applying the finding of science and other forms of enquiry to applied situations. Production technology therefore involves applying the work of researchers to develop new products and processes.
There are a range of new technologies that are being applied to improving production methods and outputs. For example, in recent years we have seen the development of ice cream varieties of chocolate products in the confectionery industry - an example of food technology. At the same time we have seen the widespread application of Information and Communications Technology to a wide range of production methods, such as:
- The use of computer databases for online booking in the airline industry.
- The development of broadband services, benefiting small businesses to communicate using the Internet across the country.
- The use of company intranet systems to inform, and train, employees in companies like Cummins creating a more skilled and highly efficient workforce.
Robotics provide a good example of modern production technology. Robots involve automatic control. Some are programmed by keying in instructions, but this is laborious and liable to error. In other cases the robot can learn to copy movements carried out by a human operator. As robots become more 'intelligent' they increasingly have some system for checking progress (e.g. an electric eye or camera).
The advantages of using robots are that:
- people can be replaced in mundane jobs where intelligence is not required
- robots can be used where working conditions are difficult or dangerous (materials may be heavy, hot or radioactive, or deep underground or under water)
- whilst robots are expensive to programme and install they are very economical to run once they have been installed.
Other examples of production technology are computer aided manufacturing, and computer aided design.