A new approach to the life-cycle support of costing systems for advanced manufacturing environments
Accurate costing information is required to support decision making in modern manufacturing enterprises in order to compete in a global market. It is widely accepted that costing information may be supplied by using distributed costing systems based on a number of emerging cost accounting philosophies. However, the full benefits of incorporating these costing systems have yet to be realised because of difficulties in accessing distributed information and limitations in current practices in the design and building of costing systems. These limitations include difficulty in integrat ing costing with manufacturing systems, a lack of flexibility and an inability to adapt to change. The thesis focuses on the derivation of a methodology to enable the realisation of a new generation of integrated and distributed costing systems which overcomes the above limitations. (A schematic representation outlining the issues around which the research work is structured is shown overleaf). The research examines two broad fields; cost accounting (indicated by part [a]) and advanced manUffiCtUring technology (shown by part [b]). Examination of current practice in the design and operation of costing systems in manufacturing industry (shown by part [c]) led to the identification of life-cycle requirements (embracing the design, build, operation and change phases) of a new generation of distributed costing systems. Structured design and analysis methodologies, computer communication, information management mechanisms and integration methods (including the use of an integrating infrastructure) were incorporated to assist the design, build and operate phases of the life-cycle (shown by part [d]). A novel feature of the work involves designing mechanisms which enable cost models created at the design phase to be formally associated with the operation phase. The life-cycle methodology was demonstrated by designing and building a proof-of-concept prototype activity-based costing software system (shown by part [e]) which was implemented in a case-study (shown by part [f]). The case-study demonstrates the benefits of the methodology by showing how results of cost analysis may be utilised by other distributed applications on a run-time basis (shown by part [g]). The thesis Concludes that distributed costing systems of the future, based on appropriate costing philosophy, must be designed and built as integrated components of manufacturing systems.