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Coping with advancing technology


With over 60 years of innovation in the manufacture of flexible couplings for power transmission, KTR has had to overcome many challenges to keep pace with the ever increasing rate of technical advancement in the industries we serve. And we’re sure most of you would agree that the trend is not showing any signs of slowing down.


Prior to the evolution of the iPhone era, consumers generally kept their mobile phones for a minimum of three years or until they failed to function properly. However, the smartphone industry has advanced so rapidly that the top-of-the-line smartphone of today is considered rubbish tomorrow. It began with the iPhone, then various models of iPhone 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and most recently the iPhone X was released. In just over a decade, Apple was able to make improvement upon improvement to the point where their first several models are now completely obsolete – and this isn’t unique to the smartphone industry. It feels like everywhere you turn technology is advancing faster than ever before, but is it really?


According to Moore’s Law, it most certainly is. Moore’s law has predicted with surprising accuracy, that computer chips would reduce by half in both size and cost every 18-24 months. The proof of this concept can be seen in the very smartphone you use every day, which has more processing capacity than many full-size computers of the past. Interestingly, Moore’s Law is not unique to computer chips but can be applied to many aspects of technological advancement. The pace of technological progress accelerates exponentially because the latest technological advancements are utilised to develop future developments. For example, the first computer was designed on paper and built by hand. Now computers are developed using computer workstations and computers themselves work out the design details of the next generation. As technological advancement continues to progress exponentially, organisations have been struggling to keep pace, specifically in the manufacturing industry.


Many large-scale, complex products, such as military fighter jets can take years to develop, which often puts manufacturers at a loss. By the time such a long-term product reaches the market, technology has typically progressed to such an extent that complicated additions, requiring even more time to develop, are needed.


In the case of billion pound fighter projects, it’s not just the challenge to meet investors initial demand for state-of-the-art tech at the time of purchase; longevity and adaptability must also be considered. The requirement to upgrade and keep pace with advances throughout the service life of the aircraft is extremally challenging, as swapping out older items for newer and smaller components could affect the overall balance and performance of the aircraft.


At times it can seem like an insurmountable, never-ending challenge. So, aside from employing corporate mediums to predict the future, what can organisations do to stay ahead of such rapidly advancing technology?


In order to maintain a competitive advantage, organisations must place an emphasis on innovation, but that doesn’t always mean developing or utilising the absolute latest technology. Let us explain. Everyone has heard of Tesla, one of the most innovative brands in the automotive industry. The company has built its success upon its aggressive implementation of technological trends. While other automotive manufacturers were selecting a car’s features three years before it is placed on the market, Tesla took a different approach. They recognised an opportunity to utilise existing software and connectivity to remotely repair and update its vehicles’ features every few months. At the time, the technology itself was not revolutionary as remotely updating software had been utilised across many industries. However, it was the way that Tesla introduced these technologies to the automotive industry that was innovative. Tesla’s commitment to thinking like software developers rather than automotive manufacturers was able to set them apart from their competitors and provides an excellent example of how innovative thinking can create a competitive edge in an ever-evolving technological landscape.


Although it may seem impossible for technology to continue to develop at such a breakneck speed, it is expected to continue to speed up before it slows down. What is revolutionary today, likely will not be revolutionary in a year’s time. This means that organisations must figure out a way to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing landscape. Of course, this requires a significant investment of both time and money, which can be difficult for small scale organisations to afford. That being said, it’s absolutely necessary in order to remain relevant and competitive, which is why we are so dedicated to innovative design and forward thinking here at KTR.


We want to hear from you. How has your organisation adapted to the fast-paced world of technological advancement? What are the challenges facing you and your industry?