Industrial Technology

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This unit of work addresses aspects of the following syllabus outcomes:

A student:

H1.1 investigates industry through the study of businesses in one focus area

H1.2 identifies appropriate equipment, production and manufacturing techniques and describes the impact of new and developing technologies in industry

H6.2 applies the principles of quality and quality control.

Extract from Industrial Technology Stage 6 Syllabus Board of Studies NSW 2008.

mechanisation = verb (-nised; -nising)

  1. to make mechanical.
  2. to operate or perform by or as if by machinery.
  3. to introduce machinery into (an industry, etc.).

Source: The Macquarie Concise Dictionary (1994).

Mechanisation refers to that stage in the development of tools, where they pass from being an extension of the operator, to a point where the tool becomes a device and is controlled by the operator.

The most common form of mechanisation that has impacted on our current society is portable power tools. With more efficient production techniques and the use of new technologies, power tools have become easily available, have a greater variety, have choice in different brand names and certainly have become more affordable. Hand saws have been mechanised to become circular saws; coping saws with jig saws; hand drills with electric drills; and screwdrivers with electric screwdrivers. Most of these examples also come in a cordless or battery powered version.

For example, a builder may have traditionally used a hammer and chisel to create housing joints on a construction site, but may now use a router for this task.

The benefits include:

There are also some disadvantages in using this type of mechanisation.

Activity 1

Suggest two tools that have been used in your industry focus area and explain how mechanisation has affected their design and use over the past thirty years.


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Mechanisation has its origins associated with the Industrial Revolution which created a shift in how industry and society was organised. This shift entailed moving from a rural handicraft economy to an urban, manufacturing one. Before this time, many products were made in the home, using machines that had not changed substantially since the Middle Ages. The machines that were used were small and generally either hand-powered or powered by wind or running water.

The Industrial Revolution created a fundamental change in the way work was carried out:

The steam engine is the one fundamental invention that many historians attribute as the foremost cause of the Industrial Revolution. Developed by James Watt, the steam engine allowed the transformation of fuel into mechanical work. In a steam engine, fuel (usually wood or coal) is burned; the heat that this fuel produces is used to turn water into steam; this steam is used to drive a piston in the engine which, in turn, oscillated a driving shaft. Steam engines were first used to pump water out of coal and ore mines.

After James Watt improved the design of the steam engine to produce rotating power, this type of engine quickly was applied to other industries, –e.g. to power railroad locomotives, ships and later the first automobiles.

Henry Ford is recognised for advancement of mechanisation in the automotive industry. By setting up production lines and applying existing mass production techniques to make a more affordable motor car, he revolutionised manufacturing techniques. His principles have been adopted around the world in all types of industry.

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Activity 2

A company experiencing financial difficulties is attempting to trade out of the problems. A suggestion has been made to improve efficiency by increased levels of mechanisation.
Explain how mechanisation could improve efficiency and help relieve financial difficulties.


The use of machinery has had a great affect on production methods, work previously done by hand and repetitive tasks with high labour intensity, can be easily and quickly achieved through mechanisation.

Traditionally trees were converted into usable timber by hand where two men on either end of a saw slowly cut logs into flitches. One person was on top of the log with the other confined to a pit below, waste deep in sawdust and water. Initially machines were made to copy the back and forth movement of the hand sawyers. Later these reciprocating saws gave way to large circular saw blades and band saws. These mechanised saws decreased the time it took to convert a tree and increased the yield and quality of timber extracted. It also improved the operators working condition to a more comfortable and safer working environment.

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Activity 3

Access the Husqvarna (external website) company web site and describe the ways mechanisation has benefited the Husqvarna company.


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