Page 11

same way that the generally accepted accounting principles of today allow them to treat building and pieces of equipment—as capital expenditures (i.e., expenditures that relate to the long-term value of a company).

Finally, standards and metrics are a mix of both technical and non-technical issues. Standards are needed to support and facilitate interoperability and open architectures and systems, while metrics are needed to determine the impact of information technology on various dimensions of manufacturing. The technical work required in both areas is substantial, but the organizational and social issues that need resolving before appropriate standards and metrics are in common use also deserve much more attention than has been given to date.

BOXES.1 Needs of Manufacturing Decision Makers and Examples of How Information Technology Could Contribute to Meeting Them


Example of Information Technology's Contribution

Situational awareness. Both white-collar and blue-collar personnel must be informed about events in the manufacturing environment. An unexpected event may be anything from the breakage of a tool or the delay of a shipment to a design change made to a product.

To promote and enhance situational awareness, an IT-based factory information system could display the status of various tools and machines on the shop floor.

Diagnosis of problems. Decision makers need to identify the nature and extent of problems. Unexpected events can have a variety of causes. For example, a tool may cease functioning because it blew a fuse, because the bit broke, or because the motor seized due to a lack of lubrication. The stoppage could also have been the result of another error or problem somewhere else on the shop floor. Knowing what caused the problem is key to fixing it.

To assist in problem solving, diagnostics aboard a tool could be transmitted to a shop steward in real time.

Analytical tools. Decision makers need to evaluate and test various problem-solving approaches and strategies. For example, a decision maker may need to choose between allowing a cell to operate at reduced speed (lowering the throughput but also the risk of damage) or operating it at full speed (increasing the likelihood that the tool will have to be shut down entirely for repairs).

To enhance analytical capabilities, information technology-based simulations could help factory managers understand the consequences of different courses of action.

Dissemination channels. Solutions to problems must be disseminated. For example, information about the appropriate speed choice for the tool described above is needed both by the on-site crew and by the machine's manufacturer.

To enable timely dissemination of solutions to problems, information technology networks can be used to provide relevant text and graphics to all affected sites.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement