An evaluation of hypermedia information systems support for CNC machinists
As information technology (IT) capabilities increase, manufacturing businesses are realigning their information systems infrastructure to remain competitive. This has resulted in substantial increases in IT use in technical areas of the business. Nevertheless, conventional paper-based information systems are still common at the shopfloor. Hence, manufacturers need to understand whether there is any benefit in extending IT functionality to the shopfloor. The focus of this research is the support of the CNC machinist, who has a specific set of craft skills and knowledge that are a core business capability in the metal cutting industry. By evaluating the impact of hypermedia information systems upon the independent decision-making and communication capabilities of CNC machinists, this research aims to provide an understanding of the shopfloor performance benefits of replacing existing paper-based systems with this relatively new technology. This research finds that in CNC machining environments where there are limited divisions of labour, hypermedia-based manufacturing instructions support CNC machinist independent decision-making and cross-boundary communications as effective as paper-based manufacturing instructions. CNC machinists also demonstrate an acceptance of the new technology. Hence, the sponsor and the research community can pursue continued research to develop the technical and social systems to achieve predicted business benefits.