Knowledge Management of Manufacturing Product/Process issues

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Knowledge Management of Manufacturing Product/Process issues
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  Knowledge Management of Manufacturing Product/Process issues. Dr. Sorli, Mikel  Labein (Spain). sorli@labein.es Dr. Stokic, Dragan  ATB (Germany). dragan@atb-bremen.de   Gorostiza, Alvaro  Labein (Spain). agorostiza@labein.es Urosevic, Ljubisa  ATB (Germany). urosevic@atb-bremen.de   Seferis, Kostas  I2S (Grece). seferis@i2s.gr    Knowledge Management is a very wide issue to approach. The first difficulty on it is related to the understanding, definition and range of the words “Knowledge Management”.  In this paper we are going to focus on the Knowledge on product and  processes. Even more specifically, we will discuss about manufacturing  product/processes discarding then service processes which anyway are not very different from manufacturing ones, at least in concept. 1. INTRODUCTION During the last years (since 1999), the author and his research team are and have  been involved in several research projects under the umbrella of European funded research within the field of Product related Knowledge Management in the industrial domain. The key idea behind these projects is to develop means supporting the collection of all useful knowledge on product and process throughout the extended enterprise. Keeping and re-using knowledge is of capital importance for the companies competitivity to be used in continuous improvement of existing  product/processes and in new developments. In a further step, the knowledge will then be developed into a means of fostering industrial innovations. Innovation is a critical factor in the success of industrial companies and it will mainly arise by combining ideas and feedback from all phases of the product life cycle.     ISPIM 2005 2 2. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT As it has been said above, author’s research team has developed a big activity in the field of Product/process knowledge management mostly in European funded  projects. A short overview of some of these projects follows below. The figure below will help us to understand the focus and objectives of each of the projects that will be discussed in more detail in the next point. As it may  be seen in the figure, all projects deal with the Product life-cycle Knowledge Management from different aspects and using different approaches: Specific for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs): •   Know It.  Focus in the front-line decision making, that’s to say the interaction with the customer in both ends of the chain, the early stages of the product definition and the product support when in operation. •   PROMISE.  Supports the Product Knowledge Management across the Extended Enterprise introducing in that way the concept of extended enterprise, that’s to say the sharing of expertise and knowledge beyond the limits of the single company. •   FOKSai.  Extended Product Knowledge Management support system in Ambient Intelligence Domain. It introduces two new concepts: Extended Product coming to the services area and Ambient Intelligent Domain. •   Know Construct.  Internet platform for SMEs in the Construction Industry with a twofold objective: Customer Needs Management system and Knowledge Communities Support System. Figure 1: Overview of the Projects Aiming to bigger companies: PRODUCT/PROCESSDESIGNDEVELOPMENTPRODUCTION PRODUCTSUPPORTCONCEPTDISPOSALProduct Life cycleKnowledge Feed Back Know ITREMOTE FOKSai AIM PROMISEPRIMEKNOW CONSTRUCT   PRODUCT/PROCESSDESIGNDEVELOPMENTPRODUCTION PRODUCTSUPPORTCONCEPTDISPOSALProduct Life cycleKnowledge Feed BackProduct Life cycleKnowledge Feed Back Know IT   Know ITREMOTE   REMOTE FOKSai   FOKSai AIM PROMISE   PROMISEPRIME   PRIMEKNOW CONSTRUCT   KNOW CONSTRUCT    Product/process Knowledge management 3 •   REMOTE.  Changes the focus to the remote product support within the Extended Enterprise. •   PRIME. Product Integrated Knowledge Management in the extended enterprise along the product’s life-cycle intended for “one-of-the-kind”  products. •   AIM:  The distinctive key issue in AIM is to develop means to make the  best use of the knowledge to foster generation of innovation in new  products or new processes. We have introduced here some concepts that need further explanation: Extended Enterprise:   New ways of working move ineluctably towards the extended enterprise. Extended enterprise concept in parallel with the Concurrent Enterprising looks for how to add value to the product by incorporating to it knowledge and expertise coming from all participants on the product value chain. Manufacturers need to benefit from Extended Enterprise techniques by involving all actors throughout product life cycle: suppliers, customers, design,  production, servicing…. They will provide their own product knowledge to enhance  product development and support. This knowledge needs to be saved and managed. Loss of this knowledge results in increased costs, longer time-to-market, reduced quality of products and services. This new paradigm implies a quite new scenario: knowledge capturing and sharing, new forms of interrelationship between companies and persons, etc. Extended Product: The product is not anymore only a “physical” tangible entity that a customer  purchases from the producer and uses at home. On the contrary, it has become just a  piece of a service process including a long term relationship within several agents in the product value chain. In that approach, “extended product” shifts toward the concept of service covering important interactions among actors all along the life-cycle of the product. However, to reach a full success, a full technical support to  both the product and the customer is required as the form of an appropriate product extension. To survive at the current market, industry has to provide not just a classical product but a full customer support and service. Such product extensions may range from very simple forms (e.g. different information, guidelines to customer attached to the product) up to on-line maintenance services, interactive and highly intelligent customer support systems etc. Ambient Intelligence : We understand as “Ambient Intelligence (AmI)” those  products with a degree of “intelligence” that enables them to capture signals from the Ambient and react accordingly to the way they have previously being  programmed. Current products include more and more elements of ambience intelligence (AmI). The domain is still not state-of-the art in market available products, but there is a clear trend towards products which will be fully based or include different forms of AmI. SMEs in different sectors have to carefully observe this trend to assure their long term survival at the market     ISPIM 2005 4 3. DETAIL OF THE PROJECTS.   3.1 KNOW IT: Practical knowledge management to support front-line decision-making in SMEs. CRAFT Project. Starting in January 2001 and ending in September 2002 with a duration of 21 months (18 + 3 month extension) The aim of the project is to support front-line decision making in SME companies by making use of a knowledge management approach. Know IT has developed an innovative, web-based software system to help SMEs to capture, store, maintain and disseminate knowledge that supports front-line workers to make better and more profitable business decisions. Decisions that maximise a sales opportunity or minimise the cost of a customer service request happen on the front lines. A contract that hangs upon a decision, a  problem at customer site or a service request requires rapid actions, based on context and according to priorities set forth by the company management. Usually, customer support is also a huge burden for small companies like the ones participating in the Know IT consortium. SMEs need to support their staff to effectively deal with these situations. The innovation of the Know IT project is based on Forrester Research’s idea, which states that adopting frontline decision-making practices is essential for organizations to continue ratcheting up employee productivity, customer  profitability and business success. Know IT is implemented as a portal system, providing one-stop shopping for the knowledge the front-line workers need in order to make better decisions. In order to ensure that the front-line of the organization, whether on the phone or at customer site can efficiently access this information, Know IT is a multi-tier application, a tool that is powerful yet user friendly, graphic and simple to operate.  3.2 PROMISE: Product Knowledge Management Support System, across the Extended Enterprise . (Growth). The Project started in May 2001 and ended in Fabruary 2003 with a duration of 21 months (18 + 3 month extension) The project aim is to develop a practical extended enterprise methodology and system for comprehensive product support. This project is aimed at assisting manufacturing SMEs (from the Automotive sector and the Engineering sector) to support their customers by making use of extended enterprise technologies and knowledge management for customer/product support. The primary goal is to develop a methodology, which enables SMEs to apply extended enterprise concepts for improving product support and development. Promise has developed a methodology, which enables SMEs to apply extended enterprise concepts for improving product support and development, and a prototype system, based on the methodology, to demonstrate the viability of an extended enterprise product support system. The creation of a virtual platform on which manufacturers, suppliers and customers can exchange their experiences and knowledge will therefore enhance the quality of service to the customer and at the same time serve as a basis for improving the internal processes of small companies like the ones participating in    Product/process Knowledge management 5 the Promise consortium. SMEs need to support their staff to effectively deal with these situations. Promise system will help SMEs to continuously empower customers, reduce the resources, improve the support of the field engineers, provide a means of encapsulating expert knowledge, reduce the number of product  problems,   support diagnostic analysis of customer feedback and enhance the customer-supplier relationship. 3.3 REMOTE Remote product/customer support via extended enterprise. GROWTH Project started in March 2001 and ended in October 2003 with a duration of 30 months. The aim of REMOTE, is to extend the manufacturers knowledge base out to the customers’ site (extending the manufacturer’s factory to include their customers), so that the knowledge can be used or added to at multiple remote locations (as well as at the manufacturer’s site). This knowledge will be used by: Customers, and Field Operatives, (and could be used by Technical Sales Support, and Engineering Management). The main innovations of the project can be stated as: •   The use of the modern internet/intranet technologies to improve knowledge management under the “extended enterprise concept”: linking provider and customer to virtual co-operation in tackling product and service problems. •   A means of Users being able to generate their own product support systems  based on the web. A means of Users being able to encapsulate company knowledge, manage and structure it into useful interactive knowledge base for use across the whole extended enterprise (product life cycle + installation, servicing, customer support, and problem solving). •   Creation of a web-based knowledge platform to share experiences between customers and support teams of the manufacturers.. New approach of embedding product-related knowledge from the end user (customer) into the information system of the manufacturing company. 3.4 AIM Acceleration of Innovative ideas to Market. IMS-IST Project started in May 2003 and will finalize by September 2005 after 3 years plus an extension of 4 months. AIM goal is to develop a system to support the collection of all useful knowledge throughout the extended enterprise for new and existing process and  product developments, and to develop this knowledge into a means of fostering industrial innovations. Innovation by combining the ideas and feedback from all  parts of the product life cycle, including customer interaction with existing products and new product ideas, customer service and field engineers, suppliers, and pooling of knowledge between multiple sites. The project is novel as it seeks to encourage innovation creation in all people who are involved with the product lifecycle, and the production processes. It also encourages team working between people from different sites (and working off-site), and between organizations, customers and suppliers.
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