Keywords: Business challenge, CIM, IT, PMIS.
Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) had its origins in the manufacture of motor vehicles in the early 1980s. The General Motors CIM goal was then expressed as "Sell it today, make it in Detroit tomorrow, ship it the day after!" Although CIM technology was adopted fairly readily in other discrete manufacturing industries, there has been relatively slow penetration into the continuous and batch process industries. Yet the original CIM business philosophy was geared for a highly competitive and customer responsive industry, and has been largely successful. In the 1990s, similar business pressures are coming to bear on many traditional process industries – including fertiliser manufacturing. These pressures are brought about by a general market downturn caused by the world recession, political changes in Eastern Europe resulting in the availability of cheap product into traditionally secure markets, and a more demanding and discerning market. It is clear that the business drivers are here now to encourage companies to overcome any problems of migrating successful CIM solutions to industries such as fertilisers.
This paper analyses the CIM concept and discusses the difficulties that must be overcome before CIM can succeed, particularly the well-recognised "Islands of Information" syndrome. We explore the ways in which CIM creates opportunities for improved personal effectiveness and team morale, along with the more obvious direct cost saving benefits. The paper also highlights the support provided, by the CIM approach, to strict quality control, material traceability, and quality assurance accreditation requirements. Above all, we try to illustrate how the existence of a well integrated, plant-wide database combining with powerful decision support tools, offers a new dimension of exception reporting and scenario modelling for plant management. Finally, we discuss an approach to developing a strategic plan for CIM – with an illustration of some high payback tactical initiatives for getting started.
H N Evans, Cygnus Business Solutions Ltd., Southampton, UK.
29 pages, 4 figures.