Summer is here at last! It’s time to store coats in the wardrobe, get the deckchairs out of the garage and take a walk along the beach any time the weather works in your favour (here in the North you never know).
One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is sit in a terrace with a beer and a snack and watch as the different tribes in our city pass by: groups of boisterous kids, free of their school obligations; youths roller skating or carrying surfboards; tourists scanning the city with their Nikon cameras…
A few days ago I was sat in one of these terraces when a group of five or six people (they were around 50 years old) sat down at the next table. They were reminiscing about their youth and were talking louder than was necessary, which made everyone sharing the terrace party to their conversation. Within a few minutes they had informed me that “meals before were much tastier and healthier”, that “the teachers in our day knew how to teach, not like teachers now” and that “washing machines before worked for more than 15 years, whereas modern ones nowadays don’t manage half of that”.
It wasn’t the first time I had heard comments like these, especially regarding the short life span of household appliances and electronic devices. Quite often we come across stories about planned obsolescence (check out this documentary if you’re interested in finding out more). Such stories proffer that large companies encourage consumption for their own benefit, and hence ‘plan’ a limited life span into the equipment they manufacture.
I’m in no position to confirm or deny this assumption. That said, when we pay attention to the technological evolution happening right now, we notice other factors which shorten the useful life of many of the products around us.
For one, products are becoming increasingly complex, even those which fulfil simple functions. Whether because of new functionalities demanded by users, new security requirements or changes driven by technology trends, current products ‘can do more’ than their predecessors. Greater functionality requires more sophisticated control systems which, owing to space restrictions, must be implemented using new types of components, which in turn need better tools and more attention in order to handle them properly.
These ‘complex products’ must also adhere to very short development cycles which enable the range of products on offer to be renewed with ease and allow them to compete with innovative products brought to the market by competitors. These development cycles have to be well-designed and executed by highly qualified people. Problems arise when this doesn’t happen, often intermittently, resulting in the perception that some new products break shortly after being purchased.
At IKOR we know these trends well, and we work continuously with our clients to overcome such challenges. We conduct research into new technologies, enabling us to get ahead of market needs for components. In doing so we can validate the tools and processes required and thus incorporate them reliably and effectively in our new products.
Our engineers in the IKOR TECHNOLOGY CENTRE have many years of experience collaborating with our clients to develop their products. We use additive manufacturing to reduce the design time of the mechanical parts in electronic devices, and we also focus on the product validation process. Our pre-certification laboratory facilitates streamlined performance of the environmental trials, electromagnetic compatibility tests and electrical security tests necessary to ensure that our clients’ products are reliable under the most demanding circumstances. We are endorsed by certifications in industries as demanding as the medical (ISO 13485) and automotive industry (ISO TS 16949).
If, like my friends on the terrace, you were amongst those who thought that “any time in the past was better than now” as far as product quality goes, I hope that this post has helped you understand some of the reasons behind this perception. A little later, when they started discussing the fashion of yesteryear and the trends sported by current celebrities, I took the opportunity to finish my drink and move to another terrace.