Computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) and the principle of business control
In response to the increasing international competitiveness, many manufacturing businesses are rethinking their management strategies and philosophies towards achieving a computer integrated environment. The explosive growth in Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMI) has resulted in the formation of functional "Islands of Automation" such as Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), Computer Aided Process Planning (CAPP) and Manufacturing Resources Planning (MRPII). This has resulted in an environment which has focussed areas of excellence and poor overall efficiency, co-ordination and control. The main role of Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) is to integrate these islands of automation and develop a totally integrated and controlled environment. However, the various perceptions of CIM, although developing, remain focussed on a very narrow integration scope and have consequently resulted in mere linked islands of automation with little improvement in overall co-ordination and control. This thesis, that is the research described within, develops and examines a more holistic view of CIM, which is based on the integration of various business elements. One particular business element, namely control, has been shown to have a multi-facetted and underpinning relationship with the CIM philosophy. This relationship impacts various CIM system design aspects including the CIM business analysis and modelling technique, the specification of systems integration requirements, the CIM system architectural form and the degree of business redesign. The research findings show that fundamental changes to CIM system design are required; these are incorporated in a generic CIM design methodology. The affect and influence of this holistic view of CIM on a manufacturing business has been evaluated through various industrial case study applications. Based on the evidence obtained, it has been concluded that this holistic, control based approach to CIM can provide a greatly improved means of achieving a totally integrated and controlled business environment. This generic CIM methodology will therefore make a significant contribution to the planning, modelling, design and development of future CIM systems.