Changing times for e-business

In this time of mergers and acquisitions, it seems as though the economy is favoring larger companies. How can a medium-sized company compete? This question was the topic of a live webcast entitled, "Sorting through the e-business rhetoric: A manufacturer's guide to the business revolution," presented by MSI, a Cahners publication, at National Manufacturing Week in March.

01/01/1970


In this time of mergers and acquisitions, it seems as though the economy is favoring larger companies. How can a medium-sized company compete?

This question was the topic of a live webcast entitled, "Sorting through the e-business rhetoric: A manufacturer's guide to the business revolution," presented by MSI, a Cahners publication, at National Manufacturing Week in March. The three panelists were Julie Fraser, analyst from Industry Directions (Cummaquid, Mass.); Bruce Kirschenbaum, director of business solutions from IFS North America (Tucson, Ariz.); and Phil Zurawski, manufacturing systems manager from Wickes Inc. (Vernon Hills, Ill.). The discussion was moderated by Kevin Parker, editorial director of MSI.

Each agreed that a revolution is taking place in the world of manufacturing. Inventories are becoming a thing of the past; instead, focus is shifting to creating a "to-order" manufacturing system in which demand dictates supply. Another term for this phenomenon is "just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing," which indicates that supply is manufactured as soon as a customer wants it. The JIT concept has been known for some time in manufacturing, and some companies claim they have implemented it to some degree.

Internet changes everything

This revolution has been ongoing. But a new element has been added— the Internet.

Even systems such as ERP are going by the wayside. Now, the buzzword is "ERP2," or "extended enterprise." This term refers to the shift from proprietary software systems once needed to run a successful manufacturing enterprise to the openness of the Internet, which allows users to connect to the plant floor from anywhere with a web browser.

According to Ms. Fraser, a maturing process is taking place, in which the tools available for enterprise are becoming more complete. As a result, mid-sized companies are frequently opting for one total enterprise solution rather than a best-of-breed mix of components.

Ms. Fraser went on to say that mid-sized companies can compete with larger conglomerates by remaining focused on strategy, knowing which parts of e-business matter to the company, and choosing modular solutions that can continue to be tailored as needs change.

Factors to consider

When choosing an e-business solution, according to Mr. Kirschenbaum, it is important to consider the foundation. Different solutions work better with different architectures. Also, consider the tool set that will be needed, and the design of the database behind the scenes. The solution provider's experience is also a good indicator of how well the solution will work.

The greatest challenge to implementing an e-business strategy, according to Mr. Zurawski, is the "people equation." Switching over to a new system is no doubt going to cause a culture-shock among those employees who are used to another way of doing things. Care needs to be taken to make the transition as painless as possible, and minimize friction between departments.

More info

An archived version of the webcast can be found at www.manufacturingsystems.com/seminar/. Other e-business-related webcasts can be found here as well.

ONLINE

NMW 2001 Show in Review— www.controleng.com/nmw. See text and video highlights.



Webcasts coming to Control Engineering

Look for webcasts to come to Control Engineering Online as well. The first webcast, sponsored by Opto 22, will take place May 1 at 10:00 AM CST (11:00 AM EST). The topic is, "The next generation I/O." If you would like more information about CE 's upcoming webcasts, go to www.controleng.com and click on the "webcast" link in the right-hand column.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Go deep: Automation tackles offshore oil challenges; Ethernet advice; Wireless robotics; Product exclusives; Digital edition exclusives
Lost in the gray scale? How to get effective HMIs; Best practices: Integrate old and new wireless systems; Smart software, networks; Service provider certifications
Fixing PID: Part 2: Tweaking controller strategy; Machine safety networks; Salary survey and career advice; Smart I/O architecture; Product exclusives
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Look at the basics of industrial wireless technologies, wireless concepts, wireless standards, and wireless best practices with Daniel E. Capano of Diversified Technical Services Inc.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.