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A study on recent advances in office automation

Conduct a study on recent advances in office automation. Information can be obtained from any relevant sources e. g. Computer centres, companies etc. You can even choose to conduct interviews or administer questionnaires of certain departments in your office that have recently introduced the newest office equipment. Briefly discuss the equipment, how it’s being used, the adjustments that various people are having to make to the equipment and the advantages, and disadvantages that the users of the equipment find and plausible solutions

In today’s fast paced and ever changing advances in technology, even a casual observer on the street can see that it is having an enormous impact on corporations and the way they operate. Thousands of new programs and computer applications have helped corporate employees to operate more efficiently and productively. Early applications of software technology, starting with the use of computers for accounting and maintaining mailing lists, have dramatically improved the productivity of the individuals in corporations.

Other improvements followed, as word processors, spreadsheets and bar code readers (EPOS) let each individual in the company perform his or her task more quickly, more accurately, and with less repetitive drudgery. In today’s discussion we shall talk about the introduction of new

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technology and communication equipment that is used in Chicago O’Hare Airport. Frequentis Nachrichtentechnik an Austrian company that is among the world’s leading companies in its field started producing Voice Communication Systems (VCSs) soon after war world II.

Today the company uses state-of-the-art technology to develop telephone and radio communication systems, receivers and transmitters for air traffic control, remote control systems, and controller working positions. Frequentis Nachrichtentechnik recently developed and installed the first fully digital voice communication system in the world known as the VCS 3020. The VCS 3020 is an extremely flexible system that has a capacity of up to 2,000 connections and is already very successful in the market.

The company also recognise the rapidly changing traffic situations, which require flexible communications methods, so the feature of a possible splitting functions has also been implemented. This standard feature allows the air traffic controller to use radio and telephone simultaneously, for instance, using the right earphone for one function and the left earphone for the other. The new VCS 3020 include the development of a flat screen with ‘tactile feedback’, which have replaced the traditional, less reliable key panels.

The smooth surface of the new screen with colour display incorporates reliable touch- screen buttons are new improvements made which also saves space through the layered structure of each panel. From the start, Frequentis have realised that the most important part of the system is the “Man- Machine interface” and the goal here is to make it immaculate. Hannes Bardach, managing director of Frequentis Nachrichtentechnik understand that the VCS 3020 is a very complex system but controllers don’t have to be complex when operating them.

“We make sure that the machine is adapted to the user, and not the other way around,” says Bardach. (Thackara, 1997, p. 228) To coordinate and develop its expertise in this area, Frequentis has established a ‘human factors competence centre’ to study the man- machine interface. Frequentis involves controllers themselves in the design of new communications systems. This cooperation has led to many improvements in VCS 3020. According to Hannes Bardach the firm will need to provide maintenance, consultations and training to Chicago O’Hare Airport, air traffic controllers who operate on VCS 3020.

Now the firm will need to make adjustment that involves in the teaching of operating the new system. This is only one of the hurdles that the Chicago O’Hare Airport will need to face, as air traffic controllers will now learn to use and adapt to the new system. But as mention above Frequentis have realised that the most important part of the system is the “Man- Machine interface” and the firm ensure that the machine is adapted to the user, and not the other way around. Air traffic controllers will need to undergo training and to understand the proper use and functioning of such systems.

Adapting to VCS 3020 shouldn’t be much of a problem as most features are design and build to the convenience of the user, which will cut down all unnecessary barriers to operate it. On the other hand even before any teaching is done the reallocation of work schedule and routine work practices will also need adjustments as training will take up a huge amount of time to cover the learning requirements of the system. Air traffic controllers will need to adjust, replan and allocate time on daily routine, work schedule and lessons on operating the system.

Changes in those who are directly involve with the new system can now be seen, as the initial part of the introduction is taking place. Bigger hurdle now are the blending of using both the old and new system at the opening stage of the daily operation of the system. Management will need to decide whether to continue the old communication system for several months while the change over take place or an immediate change over once the operational training is complete.

Chicago O’Hare Airport have chosen a blending of both as the old system is used daily while the new system slowly fit into the communication centre, this process took the airport several months to complete involving hundreds of air traffic controllers making daily technical adjustments just to make the new system work. At this point of view operators themselves will need to play their part to blend in with the machine, and their mindset is equally important they must understand the reason for change, upgrading and learning, and must be ready to adapt automation and technological changes.

Logically it seems to be a safer approach as problems that arises from the new system can easily be spotted and remedy can be done while the old system continue its operation without hassle and threats of air traffic breakdown. Air traffic controllers that operate on the new system will tend to spot problems only when actual operation had taken place. They will also need more time to digest the problem and find suitable solutions to deal with them. It’s even more logical now that the choice of using both the system is right.

Top- management will now need to plan and apply operation methods that suit the new communication system. Planning the operation methods itself is a tedious process with great amount of time and effort involve. Most properly the whole air traffic communication centre will only be focusing only on how the new system can fit in and takeover the old one. Other tasks beside the introduction of the new system are usually put on hold or prioritise according to their importance.

This had also post a series of workloads being put on hold and forces the manager to think harder how not to disturb the daily work while having the new system being introduce. The disadvantage of the new communication system is not on the system itself but the actual problems lays in the introduction period where large amount of adjustment needs to be made right from top- management to the users. The transferring from the old system to the new one is a tedious part as the old system is still running while the new system is being set up at the same time.

At this point at hand the airport will face lots of unexpected problems and solutions need to be made at the point of time, such situation can be demanding and stressful for air traffic controllers. This blending and takeover process can take up to several months to complete and the running of two systems at the same time can be time consuming and frustrating to both employees and management. Chicago O’Hare Airport have also realise that the time, effort and expenses had far exceeded what they estimates.

Airports that are interested in introducing new communications or technology should have sufficient research and reading material done before making any decisions. Airports nowadays have also developed multiple scenarios planning just to counter sudden changes during the introduction and operation period of the new system but problems tend to arise when two system is run together so the best solution is to seek technical advise from both the manufacturer and those airport that have already been successful in using this system.

This is both a logical and sensible approach, as airports are able to respond faster to sudden changes and problems as air traffic communication are very complex, unpredictable and uncertain. Even there are disadvantages but that can be overcome if the airport, top- management and operators are ready to put in effort and solve all problems that arises along the way, having just one common interest in mind and that is to successfully introduce the system to the communication centre.

On the other hand, advantages that the new system bring can far exceed the old system in terms of operating, maintaining and providing accurate information in the complex air traffic situations that all airports in the world face. The new system had also improved tremendously in helping the operators who operates in them. New improved features and additional user-friendly advantages also help contribute comfort, effectiveness and efficiency to operators who are handling it. The world is filled with invisible information system travelling every seconds around us.

In one area which the proper functioning and use of such communication systems is crucial to our safety is air traffic control. With air space becoming increasingly congested, human safely and lives depend on flawless communication to avoid tragedy especially when modern technology is now available. These changes however didn’t really change the basic organization and operation of companies. They still maintained the same functional breakdown and hierarchical structure that most organizations have adopted.

Modern technology has helped the firm to realise its objectives and making it more achievable and realistic to employees. However, the important factor to consider when automation and modern technology is introduced to the organization is the human factors. Human factors like employee’s attitude, behaviour, skills required and their resistance to change. There are many areas to study and understand before any introduction of automation or modern technology machinery should be introduced in the firm as to prevent any costly mistakes.

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