The period between the 1970's and 1980's was a time of great advancement in computer hardware technology. Technology took many industries still in their infancy to a level of much sophistication. Ultimately, technology revolutionized the information storage and processing needs of industry and of the entire world. However, it was also during this period when the shortcomings of implementing such technology became apparent. A significant number of development projects failed, which resulted in disastrous consequences, not only of an economic nature, but also of a social one as well. Although hardware technology was readily available and ever improving, what was inhibiting the industry was the methods of implementing large systems. Consequently, all kinds of limited approaches materialized that avoided the costs and risks inherent in big-systems developments.
Times have changed, and with it, our understanding and experience as how best to develop large systems. Today's large systems yield greater benefits for less cost than those of previous decades.
Large systems provide better, more timely information, the ability to integrate and correlate internal and external information, as well as the ability to integrate and facilitate streamlined business processes. Unfortunately, not every system that information workers develop is implemented well. This means that the computer system that was originally intended to make a company more efficient, productive, and cost-effective, is in the end doing the exact opposite - namely, wasting time, money, and valuable manpower.
At American Axle and Manufacturing (AAM) there is room for improvement as well. More specifically, there is a need to use the work force more efficiently. The objective chosen by the team is to implement a scheduling system where real time production schedules are issued to the manufacturing floor at an instant. Up to the minute production schedules will maximize production throughput. We need to...