Nov 1, 2020 | Industry

By Scott Robertson Jr.

“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you are not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.”

Steward Brand

“The first rule of technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second rule is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

Bill Gates

I have first hand experience in wearing multiple work hats, juggling way too many balls in the air, and running from fire to fire some days at work. I understand the struggle in trying to stay informed while being pulled in every direction. Sometimes it feels like we are just in survival mode until your head hits the pillow … then the alarm buzzes and it’s Groundhog Day all over again.

There is only one way to break this daily grind cycle – budget your time. One of the best allocations of time I have is reading recent news on the automotive industry, not just the recycling industry, but everything automotive.  In order for your business and our industry to remain relevant, we must allocate time to industry trends and new technology. It’s like being stuck in basic addition when everyone else has advanced to complex multiplication.

The term “ignorance is bliss” comes from a 1742 Thomas Gray poem … it figures that a poet would have coined that phrase. This phrase means that a lack of knowledge or information equates to or results in happiness. For our industry, this statement could not be further from the truth. In fact, ignorance in business will lead to bankruptcy, resulting in a void of happiness. I urge you to avoid this way of thinking! It is easy to be informed by opening and reading ARA emails, watching ARA webcasts, attending ARA conventions, reading ARA’s magazine and getting involved, whether it’s in your local Affiliate Chapter or ARA.

“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you are not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” — Steward Brand

We need to stay informed about how new technology will affect our individual business as well as the potential impact to the recycling industry. Today’s automotive industry is changing rapidly. General Motors CEO, Mary Barra, has said that the industry will see more advances in the next 10 years than it has seen in the previous 100 years. Tomorrow’s automobiles will look nothing like the vehicle of yesterday. Our industry will need to adapt in order to stay relevant 10 to 20 years from now.

“The first rule of technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second rule is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” — Bill Gates

Bill Gates has it right – if you do not have good business processes within your organization, technology will not fix it. As a matter of fact, it could make things worse. There are key ways to get your house in order – get involved, stay informed and learn from others. There is no perfect facility, if you are not evolving in ways to improve, you are falling behind. There is no quick, easy fix – and sometimes you need to make hard decisions. Look at new ideas and technology as ways to fine tune your operations, not as the magic pill that solves all problems. 

We have lots of smart people within our industry as peers and those who help us in support companies. The ARA mentoring program is a perfect way to interact with industry peers where recyclers help recyclers. We often “borrow” ideas from other facilities. Reach out to your yard management system’s support team. They are there to help you. Their future relies on your success. Better yet, attend a training session webinar hosted by an industry support company. It’s time well spent!

Listen to Bill Gates … technology alone will not save or help your business. Technology applied in conjunction with informed, efficient processes is a road map to success. Our industry and your business need both to remain relevant today and into the future. ARA and the entire Executive Committee work every day to ensure the success of your business and that our industry remains relevant into the new age of the automobile industry.

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