chains should be ease of installation and ease of use. When SMEs are faced with OEM demands to integrate with their systems, they should carefully analyze the costs and benefits, as well as the strategic implications, including whether their corporate independence would be jeopardized by extensive integration with a single customer.
Recommendation. Despite significant media coverage of the capabilities of business management systems, small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises should evaluate, but generally defer, purchasing enterprise resource planning and supply chain integration software until prices come down, these systems are easier to install and use, and the benefits of specific systems have been more thoroughly validated.
Recommendation. Regardless of the level of integration, senior management in small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises should take the lead in using Internet technologies within their companies. They should closely monitor changes in information technology, invest now in basic capabilities, plan for future investments to support their competitive position, and study how and when to integrate their systems with those of other supply chain participants. Senior management should define data requirements and closely manage the implementation of appropriate data management and electronic communication capabilities.
The design world is adapting to greatly reduced product cycle times and intensifying time-to-market pressures. Missing a product introduction window in fast-moving industries can completely undermine profitability. CAD, CAM, computer-aided engineering (CAE), design for assembly, design for manufacture, and modeling and simulation systems have significantly reduced the time required for product realization in many industries. Computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM), which enables engineers to take information from CAD systems and use it in a CAM environment, has made it possible to unify all of the basic computer-aided processes involved in manufacturing. With CIM technologies, a single set of product data can be used across a wide spectrum of applications.
Mold designs, welding paths, and computer numerical control (CNC) cutting paths for milling machines and lathes can be generated directly from data derived from solid models created in state-of-the-art CAD applications. With parametric design technologies, the information that shapes the model can be altered easily and quickly. Using these techniques to modify a product design before a commitment is made to