Helping you to do things better

This month's cover story concerning the soon-to-be-opened National Composites Centre is to some extent designed to pique the curiosity of those who may have considered using composite materials in their designs, but have been hampered by a lack of information or advice to help them do so.

The barriers to adoption of new or different technologies are numerous and are precisely what institutions such as the National Composites Centre are designed to help manufacturers to overcome. These barriers include a lack of knowledge of the technical capabilities of the material or technology; a fear of the capital outlay required to adopt such a technology; a belief that any new technology is likely to be expensive and, of course, a more general aversion to the risks inherent in adopting an unfamiliar technology.

This type of conservatism is a problem that one hears about industry fairly often. Often, it should be said, it is not the engineers who are the main barriers to adoption, but those in charge of the pursestrings. And, in fairness, it is understandable. If you are doing well making a product in one way, why take the risk of doing it another way? The answer, of course, is that that is how competitive advantages are achieved over your competitors.

It is often by taking such calculated risks on new methods and materials that one product will distinguish itself from the others in its market. 'If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got' is a timeworn saw in the world of business, but it nonetheless holds good. Organisations like the NCC can help you to do things better.

Paul Fanning

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