For all small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the long term goal is to stay in business, grow, and make profit, especially for manufacturing SMEs that must understand the dynamic changes that are taking place in the business environment. For SMEs to remain competitive, they must deliver products to customers at the minimum possible cost, the best possible quality, and the minimum lead time starting from the product conception stage to final delivery, service, and disposal (Marri, Gunasekaran, Kobu, & Grieve, 2002). SMEs can achieve this goal by implementing computer integrated manufacturing (CIM). The aim of CIM is to produce the required amount of the product of acceptable quality at the right time. If CIM technologies are fully integrated, the SMEs can respond rapidly to changes in product design, demand, or mix. The high investment required for AMT implementation is becoming a major hurdle for SMEs to cross. This is due to lack of financial resources which has stalled the initiative in adopting CIM. Undoubtedly, this has caused a decrease in rate of adoption of CIM in SMEs. With the collaborative alliance, CIM can successfully be implemented in SMEs.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Implementation: During the last two decades, several factors have forced global manufacturers to make dramatic changes in their products, markets, and manufacturing strategies. One of the ways by which SMEs can achieve a competitive advantage in manufacturing is through the implementation of CIM.
CIM: CIM is complex, multi-layered system design for the purpose of minimizing waste and creating wealth in the broadest sense. The ultimate aim of CIM is to produce the correct number of parts of acceptable quality at the right time. If CIM systems are fully integrated, the manufacturer can respond rapidly to changes in product design, demand, or mix.
SMEs: SMEs can be defined as establishments having less than 500 employees and an annual turnover of around £20 million. For all enterprises, the long-term goal is to stay in business, grow, and make a profit. SMEs play a significant role in the national economy and in providing employment opportunities.
University Alliance: The collaboration between universities and SMEs is very important to implement CIM technology. The main theme of this relationship is to make SMEs more competitive by providing the latest technological research conducted by the local universities.
Networking: Networking is defined as a specific type of relation linking a defined set of persons, objects, and events. The aim of networking is at promoting specialization of enterprises, lessening their overlapping operations, and developing new combinations of products, customers, markets, and competition advantages through joint knowledge and skills.
Collaboration: Collaboration is concerned with projecting a good image of the company to the outside world. A business depends for its long run existence upon public goodwill. It is absolutely essential, therefore, for the business to establish an alliance with the public which includes many groups like consumers, government, trade association, and so forth.
Government Policy: Government policies play an important role in adopting and implementing CIM in SMEs. Any change in government policy will affect the cost of raw materials, supply of power, and transportation facilities. Industrial growth is perceived through favourable government budgetary and fiscal policies.