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No need to be a technology leader, 
just don't get left behind

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Tech Talk by Peter Mate
Peter Mate is owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info email peterm@planitcanada.ca
Technology is moving fast. Making things work together is ever more demanding.
How do you make your life easier when moving ahead with technology? Do you buy everything from one vendor? Tempting. Or do you find the best technologies and make them work together.
I can tell you that there’s no escaping some adapting, overcoming and decision making when taking a step forward with technology. So how do you make it as painless as possible?
Most technology that you will look at today will need to interact with at least one other system in your shop. Any CNC machine or manufacturing line will need to get instructions from a software source at some point. The world of hardware is offering more and more options. All of these require machining and correct part sizing. It’s getting more and more complex to get a job out the door correctly. Everyone seems to have something to contribute to the solution, but nothing works alone. How do we get this stuff to work so that you can get back to doing what you love?
The first thing is simple, but often a luxury: Time. 
Plan ahead. Get things lined up in the calendar early. Way too often we see people talking about a change and then waiting until the last minute before getting everything they need lined up to make that change smooth. 
Then think communication. Will that new machine require programs from your software? Does the new faster machine require different tooling? Can you cut that fast through the sheet stock you are currently buying? Start the conversation early with any supplier that might need to contribute to making the new machine excel.
The machines are more and more capable. A lot of times it’s no longer just one machine that needs information, it’s a series of machines. Making everything run smoothly is not merely a technology challenge, but a strategic one as well. Most of the time we have choices to make about what the end result will 
look like. How will it work for the operator? How fast will it be? What are the limitations? So many questions come up. Start early!
Now is perhaps a great time to start thinking about upgrading your technology after the holidays. Start the conversations and book time in the calendar. It’s no secret that most woodworkers are swamped up until the holidays and then maybe have a little break until the spring hits. That’s a good time for a lot of shops to up their technology game. Upgrade their software, get the training and get ready for the rush to start all over again. If you are one of those shops that doesn’t have any slowdown, you still need to make time to upgrade your tech game. If you don’t, a couple years go by and before you know it, you’re a dinosaur. Technology moves fast. You don’t have to be the leader in adopting new technologies, but don’t be the shop that’s left behind.
Now is the time to think about what you want accomplished in the new year. Talk to your suppliers. Plan ahead. Book some time well in advance to accommodate your schedule. Not sure what it’ll take to get your project going? Have some professionals come in and help you work through the challenges. Get some realistic timelines.
Be proactive and your technology step up will be 
a smoother one.

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