The approach and research for assessing how fast and effective technology innovations and creations are progressing from inception to application revealed that technology is a subject with variable definitions and interpretations. Before making any progress review, logic raises the question: What is technology? Important because progress and success should be based on knowledge of the subject and the scope of applications.

Sources of definitions show vague and questionable descriptions. Therefore, an aggregate definition is presented for consideration ― technology is a process that uses arts and sciences to develop new and/or improved devices, methods and procedures that make activities easier, better, faster and cheaper for human beings to innovate, create, enhance and perform such activities in their existing or new environments. 

Select any industry, follow the step by step process that has generated and applied various technologies and it should establish definition validity.  

But, how are technologies initiated or created? Technologies are driven by need, want, economic and operating conditions, politics, public opinion, competition and global conflicts to name a few major categories. Most industries are confronted with these to some degree depending upon conditions existing at any given point of time. The rate of progress depends on the type of industry and the relative conditions that prevail. 

The dynamics of the beverage arena provide an example of how conditions drive the rate of technology development. From an operations perspective, technology progress is analogous to a domino effect because realistically throughout the supply chain in processing, packaging, storing and distribution, changes involving machinery, materials, methods and procedures in one area have been and will continue to be responsible for expediting similar changes in each succeeding area. 

For beverages, this means technology progress moves at a much faster rate than other industries where creation and application of a new technology might have more complex variables and obstacles. 

For example, packaging devices have advanced capability of handling multi-packs. With new unit packaging, materials might have changed, the packer eliminated and the palletizing device could use slip sheets instead of pallets. The technology at packaging changed and impacted all succeeding steps possibly requiring technology adjustments now.  

Another example is the logistics of packaging line to storage with the trend toward automated storage and retrieval could minimize or eliminate fork lift requirements, create programmed racking cubicles, demand computerized order processing methods and impact pre-distribution procedures. Here again, each technology application has required succeeding change that had to be activated now.

Further research indicates many beverage producers would like to accelerate the rate of technological development and application and although the manufacturers of beverage processing systems, packaging machinery, equipment and materials, are diligently addressing new technology, both are challenged by a global and uncertain economic climate that would probably require cost justification for most technological research and development activity.  

The cost factor alone can and does have tremendous influence on the rate of technological advancement on a global basis. What that means to most beverage producers or distributors are answers to significant questions: How high-tech is my current facility? How efficient is the operation? What is needed/required for the future? What technologies are available and affordable for the facility?