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Networking is the key to CIB.

Giddings & Lewis is in the midst of a major development effort to move the company toward what its chairman and chief executive officer William T Fife has called the Computer Integrated Business (CIB).

The company's drive toward CIB is in direct response to the demands of its customers and the machine-tool and manufacturing-solutions marketplace. Eight years ago Giddings & Lewis made 70% of its products to stock and 30% to order; today, it makes fully 80% to 90% of its products to order.

Today, a customer presents Giddings & Lewis with an application requirement and the company must design and manufacture a solution to fulfill that need. It has to deliver a total manufacturing solution: machine tools, material processing strategies, tooling, software, and a variety of ancillary equipment.

Giddings & Lewis is driving to become a computer-integrated business so it can provide those kinds of manufacturing solutions to its customers. Achieving CIB status means putting into place an integrated hardware, software, and networking scheme so information can flow seamlessly throughout the company.

The goal? To integrate all departments and aspects of the business to provide the work force--from the shop floor to the executive suite--with fast, accurate information to make sound and timely decisions in support of customer needs.

Target: Three cornerstones

Giddings & Lewis kicked off its CIB drive two years ago. At that time, it identified three cornerstones of operations that it had to concentrate on to achieve its objective: business systems, design and manufacturing engineering, and the shop floor.

Previously, the company had developed all the software code for its business system in-house. The system, running on an IBM 4381 platform at the headquarters facility in Fond du Lac, WI, was fully integrated, incorporating applications like order entry, manufacturing resource planning (MRP II), bill of materials (BOM), routing, accounts payable and receivable, payroll, etc.

Giddings & Lewis decided to employ current state-of-the-art systems to decentralize the headquarters-based system. The company is migrating all its applications, via distributed processing, to two additional plants in Fond du Lac, its Wisconsin plant in Janesville, a plant in Menominee, MI, a plant in northern Illinois, and its Scotland facility. A similar strategy is under review for the recently acquired plants of The Cross & Trecker Corporation.

The company also decided to standardize its business software around a single integrated package. This was done to provide a well-documented set of applications and procedures for employees so they could understand clearly how the system worked.

The software standardization was also critical for the company's business in Europe. There, the drive toward a unified market is requiring firms who wish to do business in Europe to conform to stringent certification qualifications such as the International Standards Organization's ISO 9000 standards.

The business system

Giddings & Lewis selected IBM's MAPICS system as the software package around which to build the business system. For the hardware platform, it chose the IBM AS/400 computer system.

IBM AS/400 mainframe computers are installed at each of six sites. The AS/400s are connected by a token ring network to the headquarters site in Fond du Lac. Each AS/400 acts as a node of the computer-integrated business, both as a repository of data as well as a file server for those people who are authorized to see data and use it.

To respond quickly and flexibly to customer demand, each department where information originates has to be able to enter, access, and manipulate data. Therefore, it has given hourly as well as salaried workers at each of the plants access to the AS/400 via IBM terminals or PCs.

The company has also written its own expert system, using The Integrated Reasoning Shell (TIRS) from IBM. TIRS was used to develop and then encode into software the rules that automatically govern the order-entry function, trigger customer proposals and work orders, and generate bills of materials.

Engineering and the shop floor

The two other cornerstones are the design and manufacturing-engineering functions and the shop floor. Included in the former would be those MAPICS applications--MRP II, BOM, and so forth--which have application functionality across the design and manufacturing environments as well as in the business system.

As part of its philosophy to standardize wherever possible, the company has implemented IBM's CADAM CAD system on the IBM 3081 mainframe. It has installed between 150 and 200 CADAM seats throughout its four Wisconsin locations and the plant in Scotland.

To close the loop for fast, flexible, customer response, the shop floor takes its cue electronically from the design and manufacturing-engineering departments. Design data is electronically downloaded from CAD systems to CAM stations so the company can quickly generate cutting instructions for its machine tools. These CNC programs are in turn downloaded to machine tools via a distributed numerical control (DNC) network.

The NC programming function is performed on PCs that are linked to CADAM and run SmartCAM software from Point Control Co. The CAD geometry data is transmitted from CADAM to SmartCAM in the neutral format of IGES (Initial Graphics Exchange Specification).

IGES was chosen to eliminate the need to recreate geometry during the NC programming process. The IGES neutral format, readable across different hardware platforms, also lets the company easily transfer work among divisions or send it out to vendors. All the data is compatible: there's no need for time-consuming, costly, and error-prone data manipulation and data clean-up.

The plant PCs also run word processing, spreadsheet, and database programs. In the networking scheme that supports CIB, manufacturing personnel using these applications can access the data from multiple locations throughout the company.

Manufacturing, design, and sales personnel also work on the distributed processing network to develop project and assembly schedules. They use project management software to develop their own individual databases, which are then pulled together to develop the complete schedules.

On the shop floor, manufacturing personnel are using computer terminals for labor reporting and other data collection. They input employee numbers, workstations, and job assignments. Jobs are clocked and recorded, and the data becomes part of a cost system to help the company track labor, material, and overhead charges, as well as identify material movement throughout the plant.

A significant amount of networking is used to tie these cornerstones together into a CIB. Token Ring, Ethernet, Novell NetWare, and 3COM system tools were used to link the hardware platforms. Where locations are remote from one another, data is transmitted over dedicated lease lines at 9600 Baud. Manufacturing and project people working at customer sites link into the system via laptops and modems. Giddings & Lewis also links up remotely with its own vendors, both those who supply the company with software and hardware for its own manufacturing operations, as well as suppliers who provide it with subcomponents like electrical enclosures, springs, pumps, hydraulic units, etc, for its lines of machine tools, cells, and flexible manufacturing systems.

Substantial benefits

Giddings & Lewis reports that the benefits of moving toward becoming a CIB have been substantial. Strategically, the company is now better positioned to offer its customers what they need: shorter leadtimes and more control over cost.

The company has been able to reduce its leadtimes because the network scheme provides correct, timely information that lets it react quickly to customer orders and changes. It has reduced cost because it can find out about problems more quickly and can handle them immediately. Qualitatively, a number of savings have been achieved. For example, assembly floor-space requirements were reduced 30% by electronically transferring engineering data to the plant layout function. Assembly equipment location can be planned to within inches, rather than by feet and yards.

Teamwork is the key

The company credits a team approach for the success of the CIB project. The strategy was to designate team leaders and train them extensively in the technologies that were being employed. Team leaders then went out and taught the technologies to their teammates.

Another critical success factor was the fact that the MIS function is not located remotely from other departments. None of the company's departments "toss their data over the wall" to one another, but rather work together as a team.

Giddings & Lewis has several steps planned for the near- and medium-term future. The company will be integrating the MAPICS system more deeply within each of its divisions' operations. It will also be looking into communicating directly from its CNC controls to its other hardware platforms and software applications to further automate the data collection function.

Also, it plans to implement more electronic data interchange (EDI) between itself and its customers and vendors. Finally, it will be using expert systems more comprehensively to automate the flow of information and the way data is managed, as well as to help extract and summarize data for management performance-analysis systems.

For more information from Giddings & Lewis, Fond du Lac, WI, circle 197.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:computer integrated business
Author:Martin, John
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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