Moore’s Law in relation to technology was coined in 1970 and states that “transistor counts have doubled every year.” The principal was adapted over time to be understood that technological advances in computing doubled every 18 months. Whatever the actual rate is and the computing medium is, it is undeniable that we are in the midst of the computing revolution and there is no end in sight of development.

 

The idea of distinguishing our companies from others very much relates to our use of new technologies. In the woodworking business, this affects both plant and office. I will touch on just a few of the technologies that are new and still emerging:

 

•Use of digital take-off software, replacing paper drawings
•Use of tablets at the jobsite to capture data on site
•Electronic laser template and field dimension tools
•Extensive CNC equipment in the plant
•Laser edgebanders
•RFID chips to track products in shipping and jobsites
•Smart phones to communicate with installation teams
•Transmittal of electronic drawings with FTP sites and Box sites
•Estimating and Project Management software
•Social media sites to promote company brand and touch base with potential customers
•Video conferencing with remote offices and customers
•Collaborative meetings via the internet
•Cloud computing replacing servers
•Remote office technologies allowing employees to work out of the home or in remote locations
•3-D rendering software complementing or replacing AutoCAD
•Bar coding of materials and timekeeping
•GPS tracking of shipments

 

 I am sure that this list is not complete, but it does touch upon the areas in which our competitors already may have a jump on us in implementation and proficiency.

 

 This topic affects our companies, but also touches us personally. How afraid are we to take the time to learn new technologies? Do we rely on our children (or grandchildren) to do it for us or do we let them teach us to master it?

 

 We can differentiate ourselves by becoming proficient in the new communication tools – start a blog, connect to LinkedIn, participate in on-line chat rooms, learn to use Skype and Go-To-Meeting. It will allow you to touch many more people in a real time manner, sometimes avoiding costly errors associated with lack of communication of the myriad of details involved in our industry.

 

 As we grow older, change becomes less fun and sometimes even a nuisance. But being relevant as a company and as an industry leader hinges on our ability to embrace these technological advances, implement them and participate in furthering their development and even stretching them to their limits.

 

 Whether we like it or not – our world is changing. Everything has or is going digital and while business principles and personal guiding precepts remain timeless, the means and methods of doing business are changing at an astounding rate.

 

 I lived in Canada in the 70’s when the whole country converted to the metric system. A phrase arose, “Metrify or Petrify” to underscore the need to accept the massive change. I would like to adapt that phrase to today’s need to embrace change – “Technify or Petrify”. I think Mr. Moore would agree.

Michael Bell is a 38-year veteran of the woodworking industry. He was deeply involved in the two-year project of melding the AWI/AWMAC Quality Standards Illustrated with the WI Manual of Millwork which resulted in the new Architectural Woodwork Standards. In addition to his work for AWI, he serves as a Woodwork Inspector for the American Arbitration Association. Bell studied Design at Southern Illinois University in the early 1970s under the noted futurist R. Buckminster Fuller. He has conducted numerous seminars for national and regional CSI and AIA meetings on the subject of specifying architectural woodwork and on the Architectural Woodwork Standards. He is also a member of the AWI Speakers Bureau and presents AWI Advanced Estimating Seminars. Bell is Director of Estimating with Allegheny Millwork & Lumber of Lawrence, Pa.

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