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Challenges in Managing the Convergence of Information and Product Design Technology in a Small Company

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1 Author(s)
Andrew T. Walters ; National Centre for Product Design & Development Research (PDR), University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC), Cardiff CF5 2YB, UK

In a manufacturing environment, product development technologies have the potential to be a central tool in the organisation of administrative and manufacturing tasks. Such integration of technology and information presents a strategic avenue for creating efficiencies in the development of highly complex products. This paper examines the implementation of a sophisticated CAD package in a small company that produces luxury motor yachts. The strategic aim was to bring the 1000+ components into the CAD environment, supporting each component with procurement information. The intention was that this would lead to: reduced design cycle times through the development of parts libraries; improved efficiencies in planning boat-building; and, reduced manufacturing cycle times through improved drawings with relevant supporting information. In a small commercial environment such strategic development presents a challenging task. In implementing the system, the researcher was presented with resistance to change; difficulties in managing the expectations of non-technologically driven management; and, difficulties with balancing the development of the strategic goals with pressures for commercial output. The research is based on a two-year structured partnership between the university department and the company. The department has run over twenty such partnerships with different companies and found them to be effective mechanisms for gaining insight into technology management issues. This case study highlights the difficulties that can arise when ambitious technology implementation plans, that impact on various business functions, are developed in an active commercial environment with limited labour resources.

Published in:

PICMET '07 - 2007 Portland International Conference on Management of Engineering & Technology

Date of Conference:

5-9 Aug. 2007