A Brief Introduction to the Role of Information Technology in Manufacturing:
A Brief Introduction to the Role of Information Technology inManufacturing
ompanies will succeed or fail depending on how well they take advantage of the information at hand
Bill Gates, Founder and Chairman, MICROSOFT Inc.
Information technology can be defined as having three main components:hardware that computes / communicatessoftware that provides data, knowledge and information, while controlling thehardwareinterfaces between PCs, tools and machinesSince its inception in the 1970s, I.T. has been traditionally viewed as a support mechanism,purely serving as an administrative tool to other departments within the firm, and allowingbusinesses to make their existing processes more efficient. As recognised by Kini (2002), I.T. has had two broad implications for the industrial sector:The first of these is the creation of new industries
for example microelectronic, softwareand hardware products. These were some of the fastest growing industries in the 1990s,with the revenue from the Electronic Computer Manufacturing Industry in the U.S. for theyear 2008 estimated to be approximately $37.5 billion USD (Piribo Ltd.). I.T. has given usglobal giants such as IBM, Dell, and Intel.The second of these implications is the use of I.T. in processes and industrial organisations,where it can provide a wealth of benefits, including increased productivity, factoryautomation and reduced transaction and coordination costs. It has given rise to conceptssuch as just-in-time, mass customisation, total quality management, flexible manufacturingsystems, global outsourcing, integration among functions, electronic data interchange,electronic commerce, supply chain management, and network organisation.It was twenty years before Davenport and Short combined the potential of two then-topicaltools - information technology and business process redesign
to form the concept of Business Process Reengineering (BPR). BPR, for those unfamiliar, emphasises the use of information technology; not just to mechanise the original processes in a firm, but to enablethe creation of a newer, and more efficient one; thus eliminating processes which do not addvalue for the consumer. As recognised by Hammer (1990), I.T. would facilitate new
processes because of the ability of „online databases, bar coding
, relational databases,
electronic data interchange etc.‟ to capture and process data.
This signalled the shift from the industrial age to the information age.I.T. has since become a ubiquitous part of everyday life. It has permeated
s workprocesses, communication methods and leisure, and how governments operate. The