- Facilitate and promote concurrent engineering amongst European automotive manufacturers and their suppliers.
- Improve business processes, reducing time to market.
- Improve the quality of information exchanged amongst manufacturers and suppliers, thereby improving the quality of product.
- Investigate the impact on cultural and organisational issues including attitudes, working practices, management commitment and support, and future roll-out plan.
- Contribute to the introduction of IBC and multi-media technologies in Europe.
- Disseminate and exploit project results within the European design and manufacturing industry including SMEs.
- Contribute to European standardisation bodies especially in the domain of graphics exchange via high speed networks.
A project was designed to facilitate and promote concurrent engineering amongst European automotive manufacturers and their suppliers. During 1994 the project established an experimental platform with a large degree of technical heterogeneity and multiple sources of hardware and software components. The early prototype was successfully implemented and experiments conducted with a large number of real users both from automotive manufacturers (Renault and Rover) and component suppliers (TRW and Siemens Automotive). This has led to:
a redefined concurrent engineering process, based on integrated broadband communications (IBC), which will be the benchmark for the European automotive industry;
a new set of working practices and skill base consistent with emerging technologies in the fields of multimedia communications;
knock on effort on automotive small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who traditionally have always followed the technological developments of the large manufacturers;
cultural changes both at user and management levels.
Work to date has reinforced the view that the project offers great potential benefits to the automotive industry in the area of concurrent engineering and collaborative development.
Following both user and technical evaluations of applications (Product Library, Decision Support, Multimedia Conferencing and Multimedia Messaging), and communication infrastructure (ATM/LAN), results are being consolidated. Similarly, feedback from senior managers following a series of demonstrations is currently being consolidated. These results form the basis for refinement of the prototype in 1995 and for running trials in a real production environment. These will run in the ATM/LAN/WAN environment between the automotive manufacturers and component suppliers.
- Investigation and evaluation of off-the shelf products and selection of the 'Best in Class' for the final experiment.
- Definition of a seamless integration of applications and interworking protocols and their evaluation.
- Analysis of the different integration scenarios based on a set of evaluation parameters arising from user feedback.
- Pilot trials in real business with real users with the objective of developing an implementation plan.
- Exploration of different options for the intended broadband communication in 1995.
Work to date has reinforced the view that the project offers great potential benefits to the automotive industry in the area of concurrent engineering/collaborative development. World class automotive manufacturing is currently based on the team-working philosophies developed and proved by the Japanese in the 1980s. This approach involves creating multi-functional teams, empowering the "fact holders" giving them total authority for decision making, and the co-location of the team for high personal motivation. The project SMAC proposes to preserve this 'best practice', but eliminate the necessity for co-location, enabling manufacturers to utilise European supplier and consultancy expertise without geographical constraints.
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