Manufacturing Resources on The Net

Some industries and business functions - marketing, sales and customer support - have a natural affinity for the Internet’s Web. Others such as manufacturing, may seem to find it harder to achieve relevance with the Web, and compete in the glamour stakes, but many industries already take effective use of other Internet functions, and have been doing so long before the Web became globally fashionable.

A brief survey of the UK manufacturing businesses with Internet connectivity shows that ftp file transfer is probably the single most widely used resource for the transfer of data files from CAD and all forms of data aquisition tools.

The story on page 9 demonstrates the thoroughness with which Intel has responded to the problem of the rogue IDE disk controllers. It is a clear endorsement of the way that the world’s largest microcomputer systems giant regards the Internet as an important manufacturing and development information resource.

It will not take more than a few minutes spent browsing the search sites to convince any manufacturing technologist of the importance of the Internet.

The Manufacturing Resources page at http://WWW.warwick.ac.uk/~esrjf/ manufact.html is the best and most detailed UK page on the subject at the present time, and includes pointers to just about every other relevant topic, including the news group news:sci.engr.manufacturing where the following list of recent postings indicates that this newsgroup is doing its job for its participants better than some, with a high degree of relevance:

The internet also provides an obvious facility to connect with suppliers to provide applications that are “beyond email” to improve communication to support increasingly important “just in time” ordering and delivery systems.

As with so many aspects of commercial life, the Internet is becoming a competitive necessity, and is no longer just an “advantage”.

John Barratt at the engineering magazine Eureka! has observed considerable growth in the resources available around the Internet to the design engineering community, and is presently collecting information.

“Most resources are based in the US, but there are a growing number of sites around Europe”, he observed.

Amongst the best facilities available are to be found at http://elib.cme. nist. gov/msid/webman.html, a US government agency whose mission statement declares: “Information-driven manufacturing for faster, nimbler, more productive factories.”

The Manufacturing Systems Integration Division contributes to the research and development of standards and technologies leading to the implementation of virtual manufacturing enterprises. MSID uses information technology to implement computer- aided integrated manufacturing systems.

There is yet little evidence of a UK government initiative on this scale, and we await sight of Mr Heseltine’s famous “Intervention” policy to give British industry the wherewithal to compete with world competition where government contributes more appreciably to its cause.

The UK‚s government information service at http://www.open.gov.uk/ contains reference to parliamentary discussion on the issue, but little hard advice or resource material. However, the pace at which UK businesses are joining the Internet means that another few hundred companies will have joined the net since this piece was written, so as ever, keep looking.

As usual, the dedicated individual is in evidence also doing his/her bit for the Internet community, and Bill Chan’s home page at http://cirque. edrc.cmu.edu: 8008/ contains many manufacturing related resources dotted around the Internet.

infoHIGHWAY welcomes news of any UK and European sites our readers discover, please mail them to newsin@infohighway.co.uk, also Graeme Hoyle at the University of Warwick at esrjf@atcmail.warwick.ac.uk