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4 Ways Operations Technology Has Changed for the Better in 100+ Years

Grace Flack
  • Feb 11, 2020
  • 3 minute read

Exploring the Tech of Yesterday & Today

We all know technology has changed – very rapidly, but what about tech that’s been used in the maintenance and operations world? 

You may feel like you’re in the middle of the change, but have you thought about how much has shifted from 30 years ago to today? What about 100 years? 

Take a stroll down memory lane with us or have your own #throwbackthursday as we look at the technology of the past and today. 



What was your first phone – a bag phone, a car phone, a flip phone, and how much did it cost you? 

No matter what phone you started calling on, today’s smartphone is lightyears ahead. And probably cheaper, too.  

The world’s first portable cellphone came out in 1983 and cost $3,995. That makes the price of a new iPhone or Google Pixel seem a little more tolerable. 

And think of all the things you can now do on a phone at home and at work: 

  • Check email and social media 

  • Have a digital calendar 

  • Keep up with your personal health and hobbies 

  • Complete work orders 

  • Track equipment and assets 

  • Scan a barcode that connects to your mobile CMMS 

It’s a whole new world of connectedness and efficiency – and we’re just getting started! 



Another piece of equipment that has gone through significant change in the maintenance world is the multimeter, or the instrument for detecting and measuring an electric current.  

The original multimeter was called a galvanometer and was invented in 1820. The first multimeter was invented in 1920 (as radio receivers).  

Today, digital multimeters are commonplace – and they’re safer and easier to use. Now, they can send reading straight to the cloud for even more efficiency and real-time results to inform maintenance. 


And it’s easy to use and can go with the technician wherever they're working. 

Listen to our podcast episode for more detail on how technology has changed. 



The HVAC or heating, ventilation and air conditioning system has been around for quite a while. You could even say that the first HVAC was hand fans in ancient Egypt.  

In 1902, the first truly modern air-conditioning system was created by Willis Carrier to help control humidity in a printing plant. 

The first HVAC systems were very expensive, complicated and difficult to maintain.  

Today’s HVACs are much more advanced with more energy efficiency (as much as 50% more than in the 90s) and even the ability for IoT sensors to help transmit information about their performance.  


While it still takes expertise and training to maintain today’s HVAC systems, it’s much more manageable than in the early 1900s. And these systems allow you as an operations professional to keep a comfortable environment for your staff or whoever is in your facilities. 



From the factory of the past to today’s factory floors, not much looks the same. 

The first factory in the US was established in 1790 and was used to produce yarn, although the factory concept was first used in England. 

Imagine the cramped, dirty and dark factories of these times. Working conditions were not good and the machinery was anything but refined. 

Switch now to today’s factory where many tasks are automated and there is less of a reliance on manual labor. That also means that today’s factory is much more digital with new technologies to produce more goods, faster and at a higher quality (and safety level).  


I've used three different maintenance management programs, and it was by far the easiest one to use. It’s the most user friendly program that I’ve seen.


And that’s change for the better. 

Do you feel like you can keep up with the changes in equipment and technology in your work environment? Read our Navigating the Changing Workforce guide for help on staying ahead! 

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