Investment in computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) often has to be justified on its operational benefits because they are easier to quantify than are the strategic benefits1. Bowin Designs, a Sydney manufacturer of gas space heaters, has developed its own range of software for the computer-integrated manufacture of sheet metal2. The initial objective was to reduce work-in-process inventory by being able to respond faster to the Kanban system used for shopfloor control in the assembly area. Subsequently, this development was viewed as an integral part of the company's strategic position, focusing on providing customers with quality products on short lead times using a just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing system. Allen-Bradley in the US3 and AEG in Germany4 are two other examples among many worldwide where initial operational benefits have initially justified the project, and then strategic benefits have in addition been realized. In Australia the National Industry Extension, an industry support group within the Federal Government's Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce, established a special interest group on CIM. Any company which was interested in CIM could join the group. All 12 members of the group in Sydney were visited in 1989 (a brief description of these companies is given in Table 1). In addition, they completed an extensive questionnaire that was designed for the 1989 Australian manufacturing futures survey5. This information is used to examine if the interest shown in CIM by these 12 companies is based on operational or strategic objectives.
- computer-integrated manufacturing