General Electric (GE) is one
of the biggest industrial users of the Internet. It was reported
back in 1997 that US$1 billion worth of business a year, with
about 1400 of its suppliers, was conducted by GE. This figure
exceeded all the business-to-consumer electronic commerce trading
undertaken by all businesses at that time.
GE believes that bigger and
older is better for e-business and that large well-established
companies have a big edge over venture backed on-line start-up
companies in the e-business area. GE has set out to prove how
a traditional bricks-and-mortar firm with established infrastructures
can increase productivity and margins faster than dot-com competitors
can build revenues.
The European Commission's contribution
towards helping Europe's well established manufacturing companies
take advantage of the Internet was the topic of discussion at
the recent eBusiness and eWork conference (e-2001), which was
held in Venice, October 17-19.
European research and development
work in this field is being supported as part of the European
Commission's IST Programme, within the domain Key Action II,
New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce. Work undertaken
as part of the global Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS)
programme, which is also supported in Europe by the European
Commission, was also presented at the conference. The IMS projects
presented at the conference covered a wide range of issues.
Many enterprises today struggle
with the challenge of using the full potential of information
and communication technologies for rapid creation of global customer
focused, efficient and effective virtual enterprises. A virtual
enterprise reference architecture developed as part of an IMS
project was discussed. This serves the purpose of providing a
common integrating basis for these efforts, recognising the global
challenge for common understanding, procedures, and methods.
An IMS project which aims at
equipping high-tech or service-oriented companies, especially
those with high-information content in their value chains was
presented. A dynamic management methodology with modular and
integrated methods and tools was discussed. This method deals
with the questions of: management of responsiveness and adaptation
in a dynamic environment; and management of growth and leveraging
A case study by ABB of seamless
production planning and communication in distributed manufacturing
was presented to the conference. The work in question addressed
switchgear production. The speaker described three integrated
prototype applications for supporting seamless production planning,
scheduling, and communication in ABB's subcontracting network
for switchgear production. The approach was developed and the
applications were implemented in the IMS-GNOSIS project.
The final IMS presentation
dealt with information management for networked product support.
The operation and use of complex products is a challenging task,
where the operators and other users, like maintenance personnel,
have to simultaneously understand several interacting features.
To successfully perform their tasks they are required to have
a good knowledge about these interactions and about causes and
consequences of operational interventions. A methodology for
networked product support was presented to the conference delegates.
The eBusiness and eWork event
is the conference for RTD projects in Key Action II of the IST
Programme, who are also the primary sponsors of the eBusiness
and eWork conference series.
Notes to Editors
The following are a selection
of papers relevant to manufacturing industry that were presented
at the e-2001 conference. These papers can be found in the published
proceedings (see news release dated 29
- Existing eBusiness Technology
for Manufacturing Companies
Ronald Bürscher, Profactor Produktionsforschungs, Austria
Managing the Virtual Factory: web based scheduling and monitoring
Christian de Sainte Marie, ILOG, France
Information Management for Networked Product Support
Martin Ollus, VTT Automation, Finland
Seamless production planning and communication in distributed
Ilkka Seilonen, VTT Automation, Finland
SYMPHONY : On the management of knowledge based adaptive SMEs
Jeroen Kemp, Fraunhofer IAO, Germany
The what and why of a virtual enterprise framework model
Johan Vesterager, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark
e-Industrial Services - Value-Added Service from the socket
Tom-David Graupner, Fraunhofer-Institute for Manufacturing
Engineering and Automation, Germany