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WIder DimEnsion for Best practice in Engineering And Manufacturing


WIDEBEAM was a multinational European project for best practice IT/communications, particularly in Engineering and Manufacturing but applicable to all businesses. Ten user enterprises in the UK, Spain and Bulgaria, advised by four co-ordination and consultancy organisations, demonstrated and implemented communication of commercial, engineering and production information within supply chains. Isomatic UK was the project co-ordinator and Isomatic Lab participated as co-ordinator for Bulgaria and as a leader in building a virtual environment for management in a supply/demand chain.


The WIDEBEAM consortium gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the Integration in Manufacturing Group within DGIII of the European Commission. Without that support, the project would never have been undertaken.


For more information on the partners go to :

WIDEBEAM Partner Profiles

The main result of accepting the virtual management principles and philosophy is that many of the participants have reshaped their business processes to take advantage of the most popular IT, communications, EDI and data management standards.

The essence of WIDEBEAM was to develop and offer integrated solutions for companies which are connected in customer-supplier-subcontractor supply chains using the Internet, intranets and appropriate data exchange methods. Participating in such supply chains means more business, national and international, cheaper and easily accessible raw materials, less administrative and communication expenses for each company in the chain. All the above means better business management, in accordance with the progress of the Global Information Society.

REPORTS

Four reports from the WIDEBEAM project are available at this site. To view a report, click on its title

Communication via the Internet provides an introduction for first time small to medium size business users. There is also some additional material on compatibility problems for the more experienced reader. It is ideal for those interested in the provision of basic training to others.

Technologies and Standards provides an exhaustive technical guide to the options available. It covers telecommunications, cable, wireless, data communications, messaging and file transfer, X.400, FTP servers and clients, world wide web, compression and a multitude of EDI standards.

CAD/CAM Trials and Demonstration reports on the trials undertaken to solve problems communicating CAD/CAM files between different software applications and different versions of the same software. The work looked at solutions for both 2D and 3D files. A demonstration was undertaken between the UK and Bulgaria, witnessed by officials from the European Commission.

Video Conferencing Trials and Demonstration reports on the trials undertaken of video conferencing, between UK sites and between European countries. The work looked at solutions for both direct connection and via the Internet. A demonstration was undertaken between the UK, Spain and Bulgaria, witnessed by officials from the European Commission. Benefits of video communication, summarised below, are expanded.

Glossary of terms lists the terminology used in the WIDEBEAM reports, with an explanation for each entry.



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BENEFITS TO THE CONSORTIUM PARTNERS

The user partners gained significant benefits from participation in the project. Financial investment, including computers, connection hardware, software, staff time and training was supported by EC funding. All partners now have internal networks linking business processes such as sales, design, engineering, production, despatch and accounting. All have Fax from the desktop and external E-mail plus access to WWW and FTP sites. In one company, the time and money spent on telephone and fax has dropped dramatically in the first year, yet business volume has increased. The time for order fulfilment has reduced to 25% of that for early 1998, due to elimination of delays through every step in the order to delivery cycle.


Chart of fax savings


Chart of time savings



In another company the following savings were made:

The greatest advance in IT for production is probably the use of bar coding to enable tracking and control of every batch of products as it progresses through the various manufacturing processes. As the implementation of this system required most of the project time scale, full financial benefits will take some time to measure.

The benefits of successful CAD/CAM transfer between different systems is very significant for the four WIDEBEAM partners in a supply chain. It is anticipated that a major customer will soon be asking all its suppliers to be compatible with its CAD/CAM systems or be removed from the suppliers list. The revenue which this represents is estimated to be 1.4M euro per annum.

Video conferencing offers significant benefits to many businesses. E-mail, fax and telephone (including conference calls) cover most day-to-day activities but are totally inadequate whenever there is a need for a ‘live’ discussion with the parties looking at a product, process or document. Without video conferencing it is necessary for the parties from all but one of the sites involved to travel. The cost in time and cost per company is unlikely to be less than 0.5 person day even for local visits. At the other extreme, a visit to the far East is so expensive that inferior practices will be used to avoid it. Within the WIDEBEAM consortium, three of the partners could have saved an estimated 85000 euro loss of revenue from just one example of such a problem.

In general, using video conferencing the parties can show the product or process on the screen and call up the relevant technical drawing. Changes to design, purchase order, etc. can be made and saved directly by all parties. The Leslie Group is planning to progress further than conferencing by using video communication for remote machine monitoring.

The most advanced partner for Internet access now has its own router and leased telephone line for uninterrupted connection at 250 kbit/s. WWW and FTP sites are in-house and there is a fully operational Intranet. Technical documentation is being transferred into web-technology, i.e. with hyperlinks from BoM to the drawings. As a result there is greatly improved communications with suppliers and customers abroad. 40% of customer enquiries are now via E-mail. Additional revenue is obtained by supplying Internet access to some local organisations.




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Copyright for the contents of this web page is owned by the WIDEBEAM consortium. Reproduction is permitted without charge on condition that the WIDEBEAM project and the support received from the Integration in Manufacturing Group within DGIII of the European Commission are acknowledged.

Page content was last updated in November 1998. The HTML code was revised and its syntax checked on 26 July 2005 using BBEdit on an iMac  Apple logo.

Isomatic has a policy of continual product improvement and therefore reserves the right to change specifications, dimensions and appearance from that shown on this web page.

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