Making Technology Work


Design & Production

E-mail is dramatically cutting down the time it takes for designs to be approved and the production process to get under way.

Design and production is all about close collaborative team-work – an on-going process of continuous refinement, approval stages and tight deadlines. Electronic communications now make this process faster and easier.

Cut time not corners

Each aspect of a design’s progress – from photographs to technical details – can be rapidly communicated through e-mail to everyone involved, wherever they are in the world, dramatically cutting the design approval time. Images can be encrypted before transmission to make them secure.

For extremely large CAD or graphics files, or very sensitive material, the answer could be a private network with a fast ISDN phone line – more expensive than the Internet but more secure.

Collaboration

Video and data conferencing lets you have face-to-face contact and demonstrations with collaborators and clients. You can discuss and work on a design together, at the same time.

Outdoor clothing suppliers KMC Industrial Ltd, based in Alston with a factory in Workington, sourced design consultants in Hexham and Glencoe. Video conferencing facilities in all four locations make the design process faster – and the time and cost of travelling nil.

Once production is underway, easy access to all the technical details and processed, including parts and service procedures, can be obtained if the information is all stored on one CD-ROM.

The Internet is an excellent resource for researching new ides, finding answers to problems and keeping up-to-date on techniques and products that your business could use.

The production process

With the demand for shorter lead times and ‘just in time’ deliveries, there are ways of speeding up the production process without losing quality control.

A hydraulics manufacturer allows its suppliers access to the manufacturing information on their network. The suppliers can then see what is being planned and adjust their production accordingly. Production time has been cut and stock holdings reduced.

If placed on a network, the current working copy of information needed for the production process can be accessed quickly or updated by staff involved – drawings, specifications, project plans, scheduling information or resources. You can avoid costly mistakes arising from the use of cold version and instant availability means savings in staff time.

Questions & Answers

Q. Some of our designers work from home. How do we improve the process so that their individual work works as a whole?
A. Consider linking your designer’s computers into a network or use the Internet. This would give them access to each other’s work. It will mean closer and quicker co-operation with them less likely to go off at tangents from each other.

Q. The different paper based systems we use to schedule our manufacturing operations are hard to maintain and manage. How can we improve them?
A. Replace the various paper based procedures with an integrated computer planning system. A plastics manufacturer increased productivity by 28% and halved their material stocks by scheduling their manufacturing operations on the shop floor, factoring in order levels and raw material availability.

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