Automation: it is the process of designing work so that it can be almost completely performed by machines. Because automated machines operate quickly and make few mistakes, they increase the quantity of the work that can be done.
Computer Aided Design (CAD): It is the use of computers to design parts and complete products and to simulate performance so that a prototype need not be constructed. India’s automotive industry uses it to speed up car design.
Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM): CAD is generally used in combination with CAM to ensure that the design moves smoothly to production.
Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM): In CIM, CAD and CAM are joined together and the computers adjust machine placements and settings automatically to enhance both the complexity and the flexibility of scheduling. Plant’s computer linkages to sophisticated machinery allow the factory to switch production from one product line to another in just 10 minutes.
Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS): The use of automated production lines that can be adapted to produce more than one kind of product is called a flexible manufacturing system. The machinery employs computers to coordinate and integrate the machines. Automated functions include loading unloading, storing parts, changing tools and machining. The computer can instruct the machines to change parts, machining and tools when a new product is to be manufactured. With FMS in place, when management wants to produce a new part, it does not change machines it just changes the computer program.
Companies use FMS for quickly adapting products to the specific needs of individual customers. For example with FMS, shoe companies can now offer tennis shoes, basketball shoes, walking shoes, running shoes and many other shoes for specific activities.
Robots: These are machines that perform routine standardized functions without tiring or complaining about poor working conditions and can be programmed to suit the requirements. Robots are programmed to carry out numerous tasks in material handling, spray painting and other finishing operations, assembling, inspection and testing, material removal and water jet cutting. They perform this job five times faster and much more reliably than the 3,000 Japanese homemakers who used microscopes to do the work on a subcontract basis in their homes.
The robots can even inspect their own work. Robots are increasingly finding applications in other areas too. The police used a robot to apprehend a suspect who had barricaded himself in an apartment building. The robot smashed a window and reached inside the building with its mechanical arm. The suspect panicked and ran outside. Brain surgeons, nowadays are assisted by sophisticated robots that drill into the patient’s skull with excellent precision. In the service sector, robots have been employed for years in nuclear power plant to avoid employee exposure to radiation and in the ocean to replace divers who require cumbersome and costly life support systems.
Hotels: Hotels use increasingly sophisticated technology to accept and record room reservations.
Universities: Universities use new technologies to electronically store and provide access to books, journals, research reports, articles, and government publications.
Hospitals: Health care organizations use new forms of service technology to manage patient records, dispatch ambulances and monitor vital signals.
Restaurants: Fast food joints and restaurants use technology to record customer orders, order food and supplies and prepare food.
Banks: New technological breakthrough in banking have led to Automated Teller machines (ATMs) and increased the transfer of funds between accounts or between different banks through networking via satellite (VSAT), Telephone IVR banking (where the machine: the Interactive Voice Response, can speak to the customer in a human voice). Customer Activated Service Terminals (CAST), home banking , 24 hour banking, instantaneous inter-bank Forex transfers have become quite popular –thanks to the latest technological innovations in the banking sector.
Internet: It is a loosely configured rapidly expanding web of corporate, educational and research computer networks around the world. Through the Net, mail can be sent electronically from anywhere in the world. World Wide Web helps users to access and contribute text, documents, images, video and sound.
Extranets: Extranets are wide area networks that link a company’s employees, customers, and other important business partners in an electronic on line environment for business communications.
Information technology includes breakthrough in telecommunication (for example video conferencing is followed in most Indians organizations now and even CM of AP uses it regularly to be in touch with bureaucrats and people in far flung areas), decision support systems, expert system (created to duplicate or initiate the thought processes of a human expert), ERP system (a networked information system that collects processes and provides information about an organization’s entire enterprise, from identification of customer needs and receipt of orders to distribution of products and receipt of payments) etc.