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Nothing wrong with going for the easy solution

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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
There are two major ways to look 
for technology for 
your business.
One approach is looking at a specific problem and then going out into the world or online to try and find something that would help fix this particular problem. The other is finding out what is readily available and thinking about how it might impact your business in general.
Let’s start with the first approach.
This approach is suited for businesses that have already scoured the market and adopted the technologies that would have a major impact on their business. This is the low hanging fruit.
Once this is done, what’s left is harder to address. You might have to dig deeper to find technology that will address a specific need. For example, if sanding is an area of your business that is often causing problems or bottlenecks, then looking for a technology solution might lead you to robotic sanding, better machining, better tooling or software that would organize the sanding tasks for the employees you have. This is a specific problem that you might be looking to fix and an example of a technology search that would be for 
a specific problem.
On the other hand, the majority of shops we visit have many opportunities to onboard technologies that are beneficial for the business in general. With trade shows and other events ramping up again, this is a great time to attend these events with an open mind and with the intent of moving the needle on the business as a whole. If there were a technology investment that gave a great return on your bottom line, would you adopt it? Of course! Why not?
Would you care if it did that by addressing one part of your business or another? For me, not really. If the investment helps make my business healthier, then it makes sense.
What is a healthier business? Maybe less re-dos. Maybe reduce the need for hiring more staff to do mundane tasks. Maybe making the existing employees more efficient. Maybe reducing the square footage required in the showroom to display sample kitchens. Maybe it’s keeping the same square footage, but selling and manufacturing more.
The low hanging fruit when it comes to technology is looking at what brings the biggest return with the least time and financial investment. For the majority of shops, this should be the first focus. These technologies are in your competitors’ shops and they have been proven. Look at what they do with an open mind, estimate what impact that would have on your business and if it makes sense, then pull the trigger. Continue finding the no-brainers. Continue implementing them and moving the needle.
Some things are for sure… The labor shortage is not going anywhere. The price of real estate to expand your shop is not going down. The consumer awareness to sustainable and green products is not a fad. Price of fuel and electricity is going up. Supply chain issues have been highlighted during the pandemic, but they are not going away anytime soon. These are all problems we all face, but these are also opportunities for us to get a head start and find solutions to doing more with less.

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