A few years ago, I came back from IMTS (I think it was 1994) with a give-away that Haas Automation had in its booth. It was a game called pogs. At the time, few people east of California had heard of it. It's a very simple game using cardboard coins (originally milk caps) with graphics on one side. The idea is to explode a stack of pogs by throwing a slammer (a heavier coin) onto it. Those pogs landing face down, the slammer operator keeps. I told you it was simple.
Well, when I returned home from that show with pogs in hand, I gave this game to an unsuspecting and unprepared group of Midwestern grade-schoolers—my four kids. Since Haas is from California and I'm based in Cincinnati, I failed to realize I had circumvented the natural west-to-east fad progression.
As a result, neither my kids nor their friends took to the game at that time. It was several months until the easterly moving wave, with its corresponding peer pressure undertow, caught up to Cincinnati. Suddenly pogs were the thing. My kids dug out the pogs I brought from IMTS. The game got huge.
As quickly as pogs hit the scene, they peaked and crashed. Today tubes full of pogs sit unused in various corners of my kids' rooms. They've moved on.
Like pogs and kids, shops sometimes get swept up in a particularly attractive bit or piece of technology as in, "We've got to have that here!" If it's appropriate, that's fine. Even so, what too often happens is technology gets pushed into use without consideration of the users' readiness for it. More often than not, the new technology is sound, but failure results from poor preparation on the shop floor.
It's also important to appreciate that technology is dynamic. A shop discovers a bit or piece of technology. It's brought into the shop and applied successfully. An improvement in productivity or throughput or delivery is documented. Repeating this cycle is critical to continuously moving forward.
Manufacturing success comes from the application of incremental bits and pieces of technology over time, with due consideration of what's right for a given shop. Dropping technology onto the shop floor without preparing the shop is a formula for problems. Instead, creating an environment of participation and interaction regarding technology decisions will make your shop ready, willing and able to take advantage of the best bit or piece that comes next.