IT and Manufacturing Partnerships
Delivering the Promise
The theme of this book is the development of partnerships between manufacturing companies, their suppliers and customers and the facilitating of these partnerships by information technology and telecommunications.
In the 1980s the emphasis in manufacturing was on integration 'within the four walls' of the manufacturing plant. The main issues facing researchers and industrial practitioners at the time were CAD/CAM integration, integration of production planning and control systems, the development of sophisticated computer driven manufacturing, assembly and testing systems and their control through sophisticated shop floor control systems. Today the emphasis has moved towards supply chain management (integration of the supply chain through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Just in Time (JIT) or Quick Response approaches) and customer driven manufacturing. This includes the integration of manufacturing and distribution/logistics planning and control systems. Consequently, success for manufacturing companies in the 1990s requires closer collaboration with customers, suppliers and distributors than in the past. Information Technology and the emergence of a powerful global information infrastructure enable manufacturing industries throughout Europe to develop collaborative partnership across the value chain. Successful collaboration is achieved by the sharing of information at all phases of the business cycle, across the supply chain and across national and international boundaries. The need to collaborate across the supply chain has particular consequences for small and medium sized manufacturing (SMEs) companies, many of whom are compared and subassembly suppliers to the larger companies. Indeed the collaboration between supplier SMEs and their large customers has, in many cases, gone beyond JIT supply of components based on orders delivered, processed and frequently paid for using EDI technology and now extends to joint design and engineering activity. Collaboration between manufacturing companies across the supply chain is therefore placing increasing pressure on the developers of the global information superhighway and on the developers of CAD and other engineering software to ensure compliance with emerging standards, such as STEP, in order to allow intercompany collaboration.
These are the issues which form the background of this book. The book is aimed at those researchers and industrial practitioners interested in learning about recent progress in manufacturing systems research and application. Mature results emerging from the ESPRIT-IiM programme are presented. Readers: Manufacturing managers an engineers, Quality/process engineers, IT suppliers/vendors, Academic researchers, Technology transfer centres and Industrial associations.