Strategic and tactical management of advanced manufacturing systems : a survey of British industry
British manufacturing Abstraot Companies have been slower to automate their facilities, and computerise their information systems, than many of their overseas competitors in Europe, North America and Japan. Initially, this research studied advanced manufacturing technology, (AMT), systems theory, the UK economy and investigated the underlying reasons for and against company' s decisions to automate. Automating procedures were studied for a sample of 20 Engineering companies with particular attention paid to their; systemic approach to implementing AMT, inter-business activity communications, individual company strategies, operational tactics, and implications from previous installations. This information was supported by questionnaires targeted at UK design engineers' and equipment suppliers. Interviews with Trade Unions, financial institutions, professional institutions and Government, were also arranged. The research found that correctly implemented AMT, with the optimum balance of flexibility and complexity, improved businesses' competitiveness, although many operational efficiencies could be attained merely by rationalising existing systems. When a company implements AMT it is critical that they synchronise the equipment with additional complementary systems and manufacturing resources. However, every company has their own unique solutions due to the historical evolution of factory facilities, product ranges and employee skills. The restrictive practices adopted the financial accountants and many of the Trade Union were found to restrain the rate of implementation for AMT and the move towards total integrated businesses. The research analysis yielded a ten point model for the strategic and tactical management of advanced manufacturing systems. Finally, the work concludes by identifying "accounting systems", and procedures for "designing for manufacture", as areas which deserve further investigation.