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The Impact of New and Emerging Technologies


1 Introduction

  • Before starting the course, you will come across many new words and technical terms.
  • Here is a link to they have created, and are continuing to develop, a glossary of electrical terms.


  • New and Emerging Technologies are being developed all the time.
  • However how do these technologies effect other issues?
  • What is their impact on people, culture and society?
  • What is their impact on industrial production and the environment?

Research it

  • Find a new or emerging technology and briefly describe what it is.

New and emerging technologies offer more efficient ways to carry out tasks which can maximise output, reduce prices and improve the quality of products. However, there are also disadvantages, for example a decline in traditional skills, such as the production of handmade goods.


Benefits of new technology include:

  • Cutting costs by changing to more efficient manufacturing methods.
  • Products being brought to the market more quickly.
  • Easier manipulation of information to reduce material and stock holding.
  • A decrease in human error.

These benefits can reduce costs and increase revenue, but they come at a cost to the labour market. New technologies often make lower skilled jobs redundant and can lead to unemployment. This increase the needs to a more highly skilled workforce, who are able to embrace the newer technologies.

This often leads to demographic movement of people, especially younger worker, who will move to places with more opportunities. This has positive and negative impacts on the areas.

Countries losing workers Countries gaining workers


  • Fewer workers to house and feed
  • Extra income may be sent back home
  • Reduced pressure on jobs and resources


  • Labour shortages can be overcome
  • Migrants often prepared to take lower paid jobs
  • Add cultural diversity


  • Loss of young and most able people
  • Loss of those with good educational skills
  • Families become divided


  • Language problems or other barriers to integration
  • Pressure on housing and health services

Science and technology parks support new and emerging technologies by enabling businesses to associate with a particular centre of knowledge, such as a university or research organisation.


Enterprise is often referred to as businesses. small enterprises in 2016 employed 15.7 million people in the UK, which accounts for 60% of all private sector employment. This is a very important sector that needs constant improvement to get funding and keep ahead of the market. They also require funding, this can be obtained in a variety of ways, here are 4 examples:

  • Privately owned businesses - These tend to be small with limited stock, sales and workforce. The owner will make the decision. An advantage is that they are often sufficiently flexible to easily adopt, adapt and exploit new technologies. However, they may not have enough funds to invest in cutting edge manufacturing equipment.
  • Crowd funding - This is a relatively new way of funding new products or technologies. Enterprises will try to raise small amounts of money from a large number of people, who they hope will invest in the enterprise. 
  • Government funding - This is often available to new businesses who the government feel could contribute to the overall economy by making use of this new emerging technology.
  • Not-for-profit organisations - These organisations will reinvest money raised from charities to a chosen cause.


Sustainable technologies have been driven by environmental awareness and the rising cost of fossil fuels. Here are some of the considerations facing society:

  • Transportations costs - Due to the high cost of fossil fuels, moving products between locations can be one of the biggest energy uses and costs. Companies are expected to try and reduce their carbon dioxide emissions to improve the quality of life for people. Here are some solutions:
    • Changing from diesel lorries to using electric trains
    • Making fewer journeys by moving manufacturing bases closer to supply chains.
    • Design lighter and more compact products and packaging to fit more into each journey.


Companies have an economic and environmental responsibility to keep pollution to a minimum by using technologies to reuse or dispose of waste without harming the environment, and by being energy efficient and creating less pollution in the first place. This is regulated by government policy and taxes.

Demand for natural resources…

Both natural fuels like coal and gas, and minerals such as tin, copper, iron ore, lead and zinc are finite, meaning they will eventually run out. Even through new technologies, which have increased the efficiency which we extract them and use them, we will will still have demand for them which will need to be managed.

Waste generated…

Raw materials are often wasted due to manufacturing inefficiencies. Here are some strategies companies could adopt to reduce waste:

  • Reducing - The amount of waste produced.
  • Reusing - Products or materials that would otherwise become waste
  • Recycling - Allows for materials to be used a number of times.
  • Recovering - Waste generated in factories. This may be in the form of energy


  • Workforce - Technology, such as the internet enables some people to choose how they work productively, blurry home and work boundaries. This can have a negative effect on home life and lead to overworking. Companies need a wider skills base to adapt to changes in technology as manufacturing becomes more responsive to changing markets.
  • Consumers - They are often aware of new technologies, which increase demand but also increase the use of scarce resources.
  • Children - New and emerging technologies can offer rich opportunities for education and entertainment, developing children's academic and practical skills. 
  • People with disabilities - Assistive technology covers small devices such as pencil grips to lifting larger devices and all-terrain wheelchairs for people with disabilities. Prosthetic limb technology harnesses electrical activity in the body, providing the user with more control. New technology in stem cell therapy can treat cerebral palsy, heart conditions and visual problems.
  • Wage levels - Companies need to pay more to attract staff with specialist technology skills.
  • Highly skilled workforce - Technology leads to the automation of routine or repetitive production systems that were previously labour intensive.
  • Apprenticeships - Even manual trades are enhanced by new technologies. Training providers are often used to test new products, encouraging apprentices to trial and use them.


Technology and culture have always been linked. New technologies may support existing patterns of behaviour or evolve to meet the needs of different cultures.

  • Population movement within the EU - Migration is the movement of people from one permanent home to another. Migration is common within the European Union.
  • Social segregation - Although many residential areas are becoming more ethnically diverse, some minority populations have tended to live in clusters which lead to social segregation. This could create barriers to and ultimately limit access to better education, jobs and technologies.


A society is a large, organised group of people living together. The term applies equally to a village, a country or even a continent. New technologies are influencing the decisions that shape our society.

  • Changes to working hours and shift patterns - The internet and mobile apps enable office workers to access systems at convenient times to them and their business. This maximises the labour available, increases productivity and improves morale. This can have positive and negative effects on home life.
  • Internet of things (IoT) - The system of interrelated devices that are connected via the internet is called the Internet of Things. Businesses and employees can now remotely log into devices and work from a single location. This could be managing a factory, monitoring energy usage and conservation.
  • Remote working - When an employee completes work away from their usual workplace, e.g. at home. 
Possible advantages Possible disadvantages
  • Enables more flexible work schedule
  • Less time and money spent commuting
  • Work at your own pace as no set hours
  • Technological advances make more work possible
  • Fewer distractions.
  • Could lead to lack of routine
  • Less workplace social interaction
  • Blurs work-life balance
  • Less IT support may compromise productivity
  • Less face-to-face interaction with customers and colleagues
  • Potential security breaches of information
  • Video conferencing meetings - Two-way audio and video telecommunications allow people to connect from 2 or more sites for a meeting. Often, they can share documents and display information onscreen.
Possible advantages Possible disadvantages
  • Meetings and training can take place without leaving the office
  • Travel costs and the time taken to travel can be reduced or eliminated
  • Meetings can be called instantly at multiple locations with little notice
  • Speeds up decision making and problem solving
  • May not be as productive as a discussion around a table
  • Confidential documents may need to be viewed and signed in person
  • May be a high set-up cost
  • May be difficult to find a suitable time across time zones
  • People may not pick up on non-verbal information, such as body language


Businesses must balance the demand for a wider range of cheaper goods against the needs of the environment. Factors to consider include all the energy, waste and by-products of manufacturing processes, and disposal of the products after their useful life. Factors to consider are:

  • Pollution - The environmental impact of pollution can be monitored and minimised using emerging technologies:
    • Using software to ensure all growth is planned and environmental impacts are predicted
    • Eliminating outdated, polluting technology
    • Improving inefficient waste disposal methods
    • Improving extraction and conversion methods of raw materials.
  • Waste disposal - Businesses must manage and production waste and try and eliminate it using new technologies.
    • Using efficient manufacturing techniques
    • Reusing waste within the same manufacturing process
    • Recycling waste in a different manufacturing process
    • Designing products so that the whole or parts of them can be reused or recycled
    • Harnessing and waste energy such as heat and using it elsewhere
  • Materials selection - If useful materials are separated from waste to be recycled and used again, fewer raw materials are required and less materials is sent to landfill. Automated machines can be used to separate materials.
  • Transportation of goods around the world - Local production reduces the need for environmentally damaging transport. As new methods of construction become available, it is easier to reduce the size and volume of products and packaging, enabling more products to be delivered on one ship/truck/train.
  • Packaging of goods - Packaging can be made from metal, glass, plastic, paper, cardboard and other mixed materials, especially paper and cardboard. As new technologies emerge and new materials are developed, packaging can be redesigned to improve their ability to biodegrade. Many companies now use packaging that can be recycled.

2 Production techniques and systems

Standardised design and components

Description Example Advantages Disadvantages
  • The same components or modular systems are used across many designs
  • Usually an individual part manufactured in large numbers, to internationally accepted standards
  • Electronics e.g resistors
  • Mechanical, e.g. nuts and bolts
  • Consistent safety and quality
  • Speeds up product development and parts already exist
  • Workplace can be easily trained to deal with standard components
  • Cost saving
  • Difficult to customise
  • Quality of the product may suffer


Advantages and Disadvantages

Description Example Advantages Disadvantages
  • Computerised stock control ensure that parts are only received when they are needed in the production process and go straight to the production site, rather than being stored
  • Car manufacturers e.g production line
  • On demand publishing, e.g. photos, greeting cards
  • Can increase efficiency and reduce waste
  • Enables changes to production runs to meet demand
  • Any break in the supply chain holds up production
  • Cost of more frequent deliveries
  • Fewer bulk-buying discounts


Lean manufacturing

Description Example Advantages Disadvantages
  • Reducing or eliminating waste in design, manufacturing, distribution and customer services
  • Eliminating over production
  • Minimising defects
  • Reducing storage, movement or processing of parts or products
  • Multi-skilled teams (cells) are each responsible for part of the production process, which can improve efficiency as workers share their skills and expertise
  • Requires time-consuming data analysis
  • Requires disruptive changes to existing processes


Batch production

Description Example Advantages Disadvantages
  • A set number of products are manufactured that are made in limited quantities or for a limited time
  • Olympic medals
  • Books with a limited print run
  • Could lower capital costs
  • Reduces inventory/storage space
  • Downtime when reconfiguring the production system

Continuous production

Description Example Advantages Disadvantages
  • Manufacturing of identical high-demand products 24 hours a day
  • Production of sheet metal materials, glass or standard components like nuts and bolts
  • Removes the cost of stopping and starting the production process
  • Materials can be cheaper in high quantities
  • Automation can lead to staff redundancy
  • High-capital input
  • Low flexibility in changing product/design
  • A fault in the production can stop the entire process


Description Example Advantages Disadvantages
  • A single, unique product made by skilled workers
  • Complex, large-scale products like yachts or smaller-scale crafted products like specialist furniture
  • High-quality products
  • Products are expensive as cost of materials is higher and production is labour intensive
  • Production time are longer

Mass production

Description Example Advantages Disadvantages
  • Efficiently and consistently producing many products at a low cost per unit
  • Often automated with parts added in sequence
  • Toy manufacture
  • Materials can be cheaper in high quantities
  • Initial setup cost can be high
  • If a production line breaks, manufacture has to be halted
  • Repetitive

3 Exam style questions

1. Explain one reason why unemployment in the UK may rise as new and emerging technologies develop?  (2 marks)

2. Explain one benefit of crowd funding that can help to promote new and emerging technologies? (2 marks)

3. Explain two ways in which a manufacturer could change the packaging of its products to reduce its transportation costs? (4 marks)

4. Explain one advantage of a company employing migrant workers? (2 marks)

5. Explain two ways in which a company that produces televisions could reduce packaging waste? (4 marks)

6. Explain why robotic technology may increase unemployment and how companies will benefit by increasing the use of robot technology? (4 marks)

7. Examine the type of work employees completed in a factory in the early 1900s and compare how their work has changed now? (6 marks)