New and Emerging Technologies

New and Emerging Technologies

New and emerging technologies have a huge impact on manufacturing systems. All products are created through a series of systems.

These can be split into 3 headings:

INPUT – All materials, tools and equipment needed to make the product.

PROCESS – All the work needed to make the product, measurements, cutting, joining.

OUTPUT – The end product.

New and Emerging Technologies, figure 1

Over the years manufacturing processes have developed to be quicker and more cost effective and more recently, better for the environment. Automation has made jobs previously done by humans quicker and more complex.


  • Robots can work quicker than humans and therefore cost less money.

  • Robots can do tasks too dangerous for humans.

  • A robot can be more accurate and consistent when doing the same task repeatedly.


  • Mechanisation is expensive; the initial cost of robots is high.

  • Humans can make decisions and solve problems.

  • Fewer jobs for humans can have an effect on the local economy.

Examples of automation through new technology:

  • Computer Aided Design and Manufacture enables really accurate work to be produced.

  • Computerised stock control can automatically find, deliver and reorder materials as they are needed. Materials coming in and out of a factory can be tagged or bar coded to allow stock control to be really accurate and stop loss and wastage.

  • Communication systems can allow people and machines to communicate instantly around the world. The use of smart phone and tablets has enabled contact between all layers of the manufacturing sector for constant communication.

Manufacturing to maximise efficiency:

FMS (Flexible manufacturing systems) are factories where a series of machines can be put together to make a product. Automated systems deliver and process each step from input to output. Although this system is expensive it is fairly easy to reconfigure each time a new product is produced.

JIT (Just in time) is a form of manufacturing known as Lean Manufacturing. It minimises the amount of resources used by cutting down on waste, storage and materials. Materials are ordered as they’re needed rather than expensive storage and having money tied up in materials that aren’t then used.

We are all consumers and we are encouraged to like owning ‘stuff,’ whether it’s the latest phone, a takeaway meal or the new trainers we are told we should be able to have it now.

Market Pull / Technology Push

Market Pull is the design and manufacture of products which satisfy a need in the market and consumer demand. This might be from the influence of a celebrity or a sports person on the clothes you choose.

__Technology push __(sometimes called Market Push) is what designers and manufacturers can provide which can inspire a new product or improve an old one. A great example of his is a mobile phone. Things that make a product more desirable would be to improve its function, the way it looks or make it cheaper.


As consumers we are unwittingly influenced by fashion, celebrity and marketing. With the growing use of social media entrepreneurs are taking advantage of this way of advertising to start new businesses:

Virtual marketing – popup advertising, spam emails and virtual retailing are all ways of selling you products without you setting foot in a shop.

Crowdfunding - people are encouraged to invest in the development of products or services which they think are a good idea to help it be produced. They receive a percentage of the profits if it is successful.

Cooperatives - are groups of people who share their investment and develop products together, they can share profits (and losses) when it goes into production.

This sort of innovation is making a change in our spending habits. Where once we would go to shops in towns we can now buy virtually anything on line. This has affected the amount of shops on our high streets and the number of jobs available to us. Not having to pay the overheads of shops and staff saves company’s money.

The development of new ideas in our consumer society means that we have never before had the choice and availability of new products and this is having an impact on all parts of society:

  • Products specifically made for the old or disabled – such as mobile phones with large numbers.

  • Products to help the developing world become more affordable – water filters and pumps.

  • More availability of products for specific groups – vegetarian food, clothing adapted for religious groups.

  • Respect for consumers political, religious and cultural beliefs has meant more availability or products from fashion to food which may encourage some people and discourage others.

Environmental Footprint

How far has your product travelled?

Does the company do anything to offset its emissions like plant trees or put filter systems in place? (Different rules apply to different countries regarding what it can put into the atmosphere and help combat global warming).

Ethical issues are becoming more and more important to us – the consumer. We are becoming more likely to as whether the products we’re buying are harming the environment or unfairly treating people. Fair trade is a principle where everyone in the chain or manufacturing is offered fair wages and good working conditions:

  • Farmers are paid a fair price for the raw materials.

  • Factory workers are paid a living wage.

  • Workers conditions are monitored and kept safe.

  • Use of safety equipment like goggles and guards is encouraged.

  • Toxic chemicals which could harm staff are changed.

  • The use of sweat shops and child labour is banned.

Examples to bring up in your exam:

  • Dyson have developed a vacuum cleaner which has interchangeable parts which are easy to repair.

  • Fair trade fabrics are used in many high street stores. Particular cotton products.

  • The use of fake fur is much more common than real fur due to consumer pressure to stop killing animals.

  • More factories are being built in this country as it becomes cost effective to make products locally and transport them less distance that transporting them from Asia.

Fad Products

We are probably all a little guilty of loving fad products. They are introduced to the market and sell rapidly for a short period of time. (Think fidget spinners, loom band and virtual pets!) Fads have a rapid rise in sales followed by a small time period of development and improvement and then a rapid fall in sales. An entrepreneur spotting a product at the beginning of a fad can make a fortune very quickly.

We live in a time of rapid change and consumerism. Changes in technology mean that products are adapting and improving all the time and people generally want to very latest version. Resources on our planet are not never ending (infinite) and eventually they will run out (finite) unless we develop better ways of sustaining them.

No products are expected to last forever and become obsolete quicker than others. Toothbrushes, for example, are disposable this is called planned obsolescence. Mobile phone and fashion are expected to became obsolete but could be designed to last and have less impact on the environment.

Consumers can be encouraged to help the environment by:

  • Buying fewer products.

  • Mending your existing products and recycling where possible.

  • Being aware of the environmental footprint of your product and choosing the least damaging.

Factories can be encouraged to help the environment by:

  • Improving energy ratings of their products and their manufacturing techniques.

  • Avoid using chemicals which are bad for the environment eg. CFC’s going into the atmosphere or polluting dyes going into the water harming wildlife.

  • Avoid wasting materials.

  • Make products that can be recycled.

  • Design products with easy to change spare parts to discourage waste.

New and Emerging Technologies, figure 1