UK Manufacturing

Business today, tomorrow & technological advances
The significance of cross enterprise integration has been recognised by the EPSRC and DTI as a major impact on UK business. Its effect on the competitiveness in an ever increasing globalisation of business interactions is fundamental to the ways of working in the 21st Century. No longer is it enough to integrate within an organisation and its specific suppliers but one has to be highly flexible in partnerships, suppliers and customers sharing information and functionality across these diverse organisations. The 'ultimate' in Systems Integration.

To understand this increasing globalisation, the interactions required and requirements for integration, a number of leading experts in industry, academia and service provision presented their views, including a view from the US. The presenters were:

Alan Steventon, BT
Manufacturing in 2015 where pervasive ICT is a feature of life contributing to very complex interrelated functions, exhibiting biological like features.

Vince Osgood, EPSRC
Developments relating to new computing infrastructure and the implications/opportunities for both e-science and e-business.

Alyn Morris, Syntegra
affordable high capability applications through Application Services Provision

Duncan McFarlane, Cambridge University
e-Manufacturing: the self-configuring factory

John Boardman, De Montfort University
The integrated extended enterprise

An aerospace perspective of Enterprise Integration

Biological business - Alan Steventon, BT
Scientific principles based on the simplest explanation cover all relevant known facts and predict new facts. Engineering applies these scientific principles in a pragmatic fashion, simplifying wherever possible. Biological principles, however, adopt any design to its current environment, which allows a sustainable solution against dynamic requirements. That solution is open ended and improves against changing requirements and is increasingly complex. For the future, the attitude of always adopting the simplest solution will be limiting as the complexity of the manufacturing ecosystem needs to be self evolving but managed.
The long term social drivers are:

The greatest use of technology will come through the use of pervasive ICT. Such products are:

We are currently in the precursor phase of pervasive ICT i.e. only people and computers. Phase 1 will see interconnected appliances but this needs a viable business plan and dynamic scaleable heterogeneous networks. There will also be an autonomous interconnected manufacturing network.

Phase 2 will see a 100 fold drop in price and it will then be applied to lower value goods and eventually there will be a smart barcode on consumables, disposables, piece parts, sub-assemblies etc. Phase 3 will see another 100 fold drop in price and miniaturisation. There will be disposable smart sensors, actuators etc.

In the future, there will be programmable hardware products. These will be flexible in function, form and fashion; customisable, based on user profile; upgradable (technology advances, fashion changes, user habits/preferences) and identifiable (birth-death tracking of items); e.g. automatic segregation of waste.

This will lead to improved efficiencies and effectiveness, through:

Organisation structures will change, as companies become more fragmented, to enable functional recomposition into temporary virtual organisations to meet demands. There will be highly optimised collaborative manufacturing, super efficient logistics companies and specialist information companies.

Manufacturing techniques will also change due to the application of pervasive ICT e.g. parts tracking, equipment co-ordination (self organising line), JIT production 'on-demand' (use it, make a replacement). There will be automated specification and design techniques in use e.g. usage analysis, automated design based on reconfigurable components, design to production. This will have a tremendous impact on social activities allowing working from home, or wherever, as the individuals will not need to be connected by wires but by available information bases both globally and about your person.

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Views from outside - Vince Osgood, EPSRC
The importance of information and information processing is recognised by the UK Government and they have three major drivers to handle future volumes:

This is consistent with the concept of the US work on the GRID (webbed information) indicates the potential that these play in the future information society.

The GRID (according to W.E.Johnston) is

This will allow information on demand from science information depositories and their applications i.e. utilities for e-science. The concept of Grid computing is based on the analogy of the electricity grid, where electricity is easily and uniformly available at point of use but where the generation and transmission of power are hidden from the consumer. This implies the need for improved technology drivers - storage, bandwidth and processing power (10 21 cube). Large testbeds and experiments are being created nationally and internationally, deploying standard services/middleware.

This futurist vision of network information availability and control will have a major impact across the ways of working, the interaction with people and apply across the whole of industry.

e-science will drive the next generation of technology for e-commerce, e-business, e-engineering, e-auctions, e-health, e-education, e-university, e-democracy, e-community, e-family, e-…………..

For e-Business - the Internet is crucial. The key development issues concern the provision of high bandwidth at low cost, quality of service, security and reliability and the integration of voice, video and data. Much more development spend will be required on the interface between the computing infrastructure and the user rather than on the infrastructure itself. In terms of software, this implies open industry standards, common middleware across multiple platforms, federation of data, integrated infrastructure, re-use of existing proven software in new ways and scalability. All of these issues pose systems integration challenges and opportunities.

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No play, no pay - Pay as you use - Alyn Morris, Syntegra
In parallel with business developments, there existed an independent point of view manifesting itself in traditional IT departments of large companies, with corresponding budgets, providing Application Services. Solutions were often IT-led and not business-led. IT took the focus of companies away from core business and capability. Affordability restricted the choice of IT packages and a plethora of specialist consultants ensued. Then came outsourcing, when companies concentrated on core business and capability. There was the recognition that IT was a tool and not a product. Even with outsourcing, the large 'IT department' is still there, managing the contract, and flexibility, affordability and choice of application is still limited.

Application Services Provision (ASP) now offers high price applications at affordable "pay as you use" prices. It can be anything from email to e-manufacturing, integrated and working on a network. You can rent an application and if it doesn't work, change it. The same common service is provided across organisations. Service levels are guaranteed. If you don't play, you don't pay. Capital costs are reduced and cash flow eased.

Corporate customers gain through improved cash flow and risk spread. They can concentrate on core business and use the ASP for trials: new applications, platforms and technologies, faster implementation and lower cost organisational learning. They can choose whether to buy in platform and applications and run within the company, or buy in the service with the platform being run for the company. Infrastructure costs are reduced, capital spending is replaced by running costs, rapid implementation of new products is possible, and internal IT support requirements are reduced. They can share a common virtual platform with their suppliers. They must be aware, though, that as with outsourcing, their 'Intelligent Customer' knowledge is also reduced and they must rely on a "trusted" 3rd party.

Non-corporate customers get access to high-cost, high-power, leading applications and technology, which are available and reliable. They can concentrate on their core business. They can share a common virtual platform with their cusomers. They get guaranteed service levels, reduction in internal IT support requirements, and again capital spending is replaced by running costs - even more significant for the smaller organisation.

Application Vendors can make their applications available more affordably and while there is lower revenue per user, they can more readily increase the number of users and gain access to markets traditionally out of reach.

Whole supply chains and communities can benefit from having a trusted 3rd party to convey data securely, run the service across a number of organisations and administer the changes required by the community. Overall costs are reduced with flexibility in terms of who pays for what, and disbursement of payments across the community. There is commercial openness with controlled access.

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e-Manufacturing - Duncan McFarlane, Cambridge University
Returning to business developments, work on distributed manufacturing systems has concentrated on connecting information and the physical supply chains and the interface between business and operations in a single enterprise. However, the same principles can be applied to any environment where intelligent elements (autonomous agents) come together to produce an action. This environment is similar to the evolving ecosystem referred to by Alan Steventon, where systems automatically adapt and reconfigure to support agile business requirements using native intelligence.

The adoption of e-Practices is rapid. UK business to business (B2B) has seen vast increases between 1999 and 2000. It is happening too fast for R&D to help. There is huge interest in e-collaboration and working with suppliers. The rationale for this is cost reduction and time compression. (Today quality is accepted as a given.) Current e-Business is cost oriented, but the real driver for manufacturing is agility and the accelerated life-cycle.

Intelligent organisations as extended enterprises enabled by ePractices are being considered now, but a further extension will be the use of intelligent products carrying with them the information to drive processes as well as their history. For example, a car door will know not only how the metal was made but also the colour it needed to be painted and will arrange for the factory to do this.

The issues for supply chain management are real-time order tracking, operations management, transaction management, management of intellectual property and "Know-How" to enable distributed, flexible solutions.

An "Intelligent Product" or "Intelligent Operation" is a physical and/or information based representation of an item or process which:

For example, there need be no announcement that a component is on the network as it would already know. The identification of a product for product aggregation and disaggregation is an integral part of the product. This implies a high degree of standardisation for the exchange of information within and across both product and organisation.

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Integrated Extended Enterprises - John Boardman, De Montfort University
Even as far back as 1995, Foresight predicted that

"Company structure will shift from the integrated enterprise (multi-functional teams in a company) to the extended enterprise (managing teams across a supply chain) to the virtual company (core competencies across a network of companies). Key competencies for this future are team building and team working"

and this is still true today. The three dimensions of the extended enterprise are Product, Process, Supply Chain.

MAPPSEE (Managing Asynchronous Products and Process Structures in the Extended Enterprise) is an EPSRC sponsored project looking to change the supply chain 'mindset' to an extended enterprise mindset and then using this mindset to achieve concurrent engineering across these three dimensions.

"Today’s rules of a business are ‘smash competitors, blind customers and squeeze suppliers’. This in turn causes a reaction so the competitor retaliates, the customer squeezes the business and the supplier blinds the business." To achieve the extended enterprise environment, different behaviours need to be employed. Business must co-operate with the competitor, inform the customer and support the supplier.

An integrated extended enterprise plan across the supply chain does not exist today. Plans need to be predicated on process. The process needs to be integrated across the extended enterprise and then the plan follows. One conclusion would be to establish and disseminate a body of knowledge and a set of tools to enable strategy to be plotted at the level of the network - the extended enterprise.

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Global Industrial trends and Enterprise Integration - Lou Shaw, BAESYSTEMS
General business trends throughout the 1980s and 1990s were a drive toward common business architectures and the reduction of paper based information. This led to the emphasis on virtual product development and enterprise resource planning. Looking forward from 2001, to cope with the demand for global business environments, developments are occurring on three fronts: business, technology and enablers:

The future trend for project management is integrated programme information held within an electronic master, with many organisations sharing access in a secure and appropriate way. Modelling is required prior to spend to reduce the overall integration costs, both for products and infrastructures.

Looking towards 2010
Integrated Product Databases operating via Shared Data Environments (SDEs) linked to federated (distributed) data management and configuration control of product platform hardware and embedded software will be the norm.

Industry will be contracted to support environments merged with customer operations and zero inventory driven supply chain operations providing on demand manufacturing. This will require dynamic lean organisations supporting multiple products - Smart Acquisition.

From an Engineering point of view, product teams will need to use concurrent technologies and shared information operating in a virtual environment, to reduce the cycle time from concept to use. Within this environment, how information is captured stored and managed over the life of the product will need to be addressed as this can be as much as 200 years with the multiplicity of technological releases. To address this constant change, the use of neutral standards, as is being pursued by STEP - STandard for the Exchange of Product Model Data, are essential. These standards should support information over the whole of the product life cycle.

A key requirement is to consolidate the the investments and resouces to address the research issues concerned with cross organisational operations. This will need a more co-ordinated cross industry dissemination of the results via implementations of new technology in real environments levering European investment strategies to match the competition.

Key technical issues that need to be addressed are:

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