Uses of Technology Systems

Lesson Introduction

A computer is a machine that processes digital data.

When we talk about a technology system what we mean is the complete collection of components making up a single computer installation. These components include hardware, software, peripherals, power supplies and communication links.

Technology systems have become fundamental to the modern working world in every industry.

In this lesson we will learn about the uses of technology systems in:

  1. Construction
  2. Finance
  3. Health
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Retail

Media Attachments: Presentation

1. Construction

Within the construction industry technology systems are used both in the planning, design and management of a development project as well as within the actual construction of the building or structure. Examples of how it can be used to support this includes:

  • Planning Projects – Project management software can be used to schedule the development of a construction project, assigning time to individual tasks, working out the order of tasks and assigning resources. This can help manage time effectively to avoid going over the deadlines in a construction project.
  • Creating Architectural Drawings – Technology systems can be used to develop architectural drawings and blueprints for the design of buildings/structures using CAD software for producing the drawings and plotters for printing out large scale hard copies of the design.
  • Tracking Spending – Accounting software can be used to to manage money and track spending within a construction project to help ensure the project’s budget is kept to. The automatic calculation of expenditure can also prevent mistakes being made due to human error.

Further Thought

What benefits do you think there are to doing an architectural drawing using technology systems, rather than completing them by hand?

Think about the differences if you had to make a change to a design or if you needed to send it to a client while they are out of the country.

2. Finance

The finance sector uses technology systems to help with investment, banking and completing transactions. It has been important in making these things more accessible, quicker and in reducing errors. Examples of where it is used to support this include:

  • Stock Monitoring – Stock market software allows investment professionals and individuals to monitor the stock market and their personal investment portfolio to see how well or poorly their investments are doing and to make quick and informed decisions on when and where to move their finances.
  • Interest Rate Calculation – Personal and business loans and savings are affected by interest rates which can increase what you owe on your loan repayments or increase the savings in your account. Technology systems can calculate how these interest rates will affect you.

Further Thought

Are there other uses of technology systems within the financial sector?

Think about how banks make use of the internet and other systems.

3. Health

Your hospital, your GP & your pharmacy all make heavy use of technology systems to support the way they work and to ensure the best medical care is given. Examples of where it can be used to support healthcare includes:

  • Scanning – X-ray, MRI & CAT scanners are all examples of technology systems being used in healthcare. These devices allow for the fast diagnosis of injuries and diseases without the need of surgery.
  • Monitoring – Temperature, blood pressure and heart rate sensors are used for monitoring the health of a patient to ensure their recovery progresses as expected and doesn’t deteriorate. These allow for 24/7 monitoring and frees staff up to perform other duties.

Further Thought

Have you ever had a body scan such as an x-ray, or some other healthcare technology?

What might the doctor have had to do if it wasn’t available to them? Why is the technology system better?

4. Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry has seen huge changes as a result of the development of technology systems. The way we design parts for production as well as develop the final parts are heavily computerised. Examples of where it can be used within manufacturing include:

  • Computer-Aided Design – CAD systems are used to create technical drawings. This is used in the manufacturing industry to produce plans and other design drawings for parts and products that can then be created using CAM. This CAD software allows for the designs to be viewed in detail and rotated in 3D to view the part or product from all angles.
  • Computer-Aided Manufacturing – CAM systems control machinery, such as robots, for the purpose of manufacturing the objects that we have designed using CAD. This gives greater consistency to the quality of the manufacturing work as well as greater efficiency as the process of building the part is often quicker than with manual labour.

Further Thought

Can you think of examples of areas where CAM is used regularly for manufacturing?

Have you ever seen a 3D printer in use? Research about what a 3D printer is and how the printer knows what to make.

5. Retail

The retail sector is perhaps the most obvious industry where technology systems have had an impact. It hasn’t just made shopping in the high-street a quicker and easier process but has also give us different ways of shopping, such as online. Examples of uses of technology systems within retail include:

  • Electronic Point of Sale – Within the retail sector we now use technology at the point of sale. These EPOS systems are used in every store nowadays. They allow for quick and accurate checkout within shops through the use of barcode scanners, electronic payment methods (e.g. credit card) and automatic calculation of total bills. This allows for faster transactions and less queuing time.
  • Online Shopping – A lot of shopping is now performed online thanks to technology systems. Companies such as Amazon don’t even have high street stores and run solely as an internet business. Online shopping allows customers to shop 24/7 and to easily find the best prices by quickly comparing between different online stores. Business don’t just sell online though, it is also an important means of advertising products too.

Further Thought

Do you use online shopping? Why do you use it instead of going to the shops?

Also, how have EPOS systems changed in the supermarket recently?

Key Terms

CAD – hardware and software used by architects and engineers to produce designs electronically, including such things as architectural plans for construction and component parts for manufacturing.
CAM – computer controlled machinery that is used to automate the manufacturing process. It is often used with CAD, where CAD produces a design which CAM then manufactures.
EPOS – a technology system that is used in retail checkout. It is usually capable of all tasks involved at the till including taking payment, recording sales and managing stock.

Lesson Summary

So to summarise what we’ve learnt in this lesson:

  • A computer is a machine that processes digital data.
  • A technology system is the complete collection of components (hardware, software, peripherals, power supplies & communication links) making up a single computer installation.
  • In construction, technology systems are used for planning projects, creating architectural drawings & tracking spending.
  • In finance, technology systems are used for stock market monitoring & interest rate calculations.
  • In healthcare, technology systems are used for body scanning & monitoring of heart rate, temperature, etc.
  • In manufacturing, technology systems are used for computer-aided design & computer-aided manufacturing.
  • In retail, technology systems are used for electronic point of sale systems and online shopping.

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