Information systems usually are the backbone of an organization establishing channels of information processing and communication. Good information systems do support the business of an organization and will give a competitive edge besides being an effective channel of communication. Organizations operate by information hence the need for relevant, timely and clear information which is essential for effective delivery by different levels of management. Clear understanding and documentation of the business problem is always the foundation for the development robust and strategic information systems. With proper business analysis, information systems developed will promote the corporate mission of an entity. It is therefore very important to develop information systems that will gather effectively the information needs of the organization and also support tactical and operational procedures adequately.
How three departments of BLL works based on systems concept
Bright Light Limited (BLL) is a manufacturing company dealing with the production of light bulbs and fluorescents. This organization has several departments and all are working for the overall objective producing the best products in this category. BLL has several departments; Accounting, marketing, HRM, electrical engineering and design, Sales, warehousing, manufacturing and logistics & dispatch. Each of these departments performs some procedures and processes that will serve the other department and overall functioning of BLL. Departments are the components that will jointly and interactively work together to achieve the overall goal of BLL. BLL as an organization has the suppliers, airport and the city as its environment. BLL interacts with the environment and therefore is an open system. The environment of BLL provides substantial resource to BLL; human resource, raw materials and a market for BLL product hence it also very important that BLL appreciates it. The following departments have been selected for further analysis:
All these departments are very critical to the overall business of BLL and each of these departments are mutually supporting. Without marketing department and accounting, manufacturing department would be carrying out a futile work and vice versa.
According to the case study, marketing department is very critical and important as regards advertising of BLL products. It also collects information on the popularity of BLL products. This is a very important department which will compile information vital to the successful customer relationship and also production of improved quality products by the manufacturing department through electrical engineering and design department feedback. From the information regarding competition and competitors, marketing department is a source of important strategic information to the management and other departments.
The inputs to this department are mainly from environment and will constitute; list of customers and their sales volumes, customer preferences and comments on various products and competitor actions.
This department deals with conversion of raw materials and other inputs into finished products and for the case of BLL; bulbs and fluorescents tubes. The department deals with production scheduling, planning and maintenance of plant and equipment, availability of inputs and establishment of production targets. This department also is a source of inputs like production costs, plant acquisition costs and specification to the accounting department. It is also involved in the quality assurance standards where inputs mainly feedback from customers are used for improving on the quality of products.
This is a central department in any organization. It is involved with the recording of the financial implications of various roles undertaken in different departments. Financial transactions traverses all departments in the organization and hence reports on the job done by the accounts department are usual very important for decision making by the managements. Accounting department do help manufacturing departments as regards costs control, budget management, investment decisions and tax management. Concerning marketing department, the accounting unit is able to capture all costs in relation to the department. This can be used to justify or otherwise on the advertising as an option for promoting the products of BLL.
From the above diagrams, departments do exchange information. BLL IS actually is an information system with components being the department or functional units. For the overall achievement of BLLs’ mission, each department has a role to play. In the case of human resource management, HRM, it has to interact with accounting department as regards payment of wages and salaries, therefore employee payment breakdown will be an input to accounts department and an output from HRM. This kind of relationship are also exist between accounting and manufacturing where accounting information as regards production costs can be an input to manufacturing department where investment on new plant and equipment is of concern. Labor requirements for manufacturing department is an output of production and resource planning sub systems but will form part of the input into the HRM. This shows the harmonious working relationship between departments of BLL which is in essence paramount in the process of goal achievements. The achievement as a result of this cordial interdepartmental interdependence will always be more that the summation of the individual contributions by each department (Jessup, 117). This shows that information systems have lead to more productivity due to specialization and division of roles and responsibilities.
Investigation on the new integrated CAD/CAM
BLL is a bulb and fluorescent tube manufacturer. It is therefore a business with its core activity being manufacturing of trade items hence having manufacturing information system being central to its operations. CAD computer aided design is an automation of design role of engineers and architects. CAD system enables manipulation and construction of drawings. The system can allow several tests on engineering drawings like its stability and strength. This system is actually useful in prototyping and simulation of real life scenarios’ of an engineering design. In the case of BLL, CAD is used to design various bulb designs and shapes. These shapes can be tested for their strength on exerting force on various points through used of simulation. Other automation tools for CAD do have an advance Units for design circuits for the bulbs. Modeling of product designs is usually a costly process but CAD had actually made it simple and cheaper.
CAM on the other hand deals with the automation of the processing plant and equipment. Computers are used to control manufacturing machinery, activities and functions involved in the manufacturing unit. CAM also may involve the use of robots in implementing different human responsibilities in a plant and this saves lives especially in plants dealing with dangerous chemicals. BLL is a manufacturing firm and the use of CAM should start with automation of bulb and fluorescents processing machinery. Bulb and fluorescents manufacturing process can also be controlled with the aid of CAM.
Integration of CAD/CAM
CAD and CAM have previously been separate and distinct automation tools serving different professionals. With the current trend, integrated CAD/CAM actually supports the whole process of product design and manufacturing hence breaking the interface issues which have been experienced between the design and actual product development or manufacture. It is with much ease to note that with integrated CAD/CAM BLL would be able to design a product and send the specification directly to the computerized numerical control unit where the production of the same item is done. Separation of design and manufacturing process can no longer be an objective of a seriously commercial entity where competition is the order of the day, such systems usually give a competitive advantage over competitors and it is therefore necessary that BLL should opt for a fully integrated system. This on the other hand can lead to merger of design and manufacturing departments hence saving on costs bureaucracy (Kenneth, 127).
Integrated CAD/CAM processing
First product design has to be done, this is normally carried out by CAD and it involves a rigorous process of testing on the product strength and quality. The result of this process is the suitable product form design. Secondly CAD further ensures that drawings of parts of the product and the whole products are done. These are called assembly drawings as they will be used in the assembly or joining of the final product. More so, these drawings usually makes production process faster as it enables production of parts first then final joining of products. Production planning and scheduling is usually carried out after the making of drawings mostly by the CAM side of the integrated system. This process entails preparation of detailed plans and instructions of the preparation of different parts of a product and its final assembly. Finally, the manufacturing process begins. This is carried out with the aid of computer numerically controlled machine which will implement product designs and drawings as done by CAD.
Choice of IS development process
Manufacturing firms involves a bulk of supporting procedures and processing which require high level accuracy with consideration of its procedures. For the development of CAD/CAM systems, a manufacturing information system, system development life cycle, SDLC, is very relevant since manufacturing systems is usually robust. The process followed in SDLC will ensure that a complete and accurate system is developed. SDLC is very logical and structured hence it will blend very well with engineering concepts. SDLC is very systematic and incremental. This ensures that the CAD/CAM system will be based on organizations requirement specifications and not conceptual systems (Steven, 235).
Different software’s that can be acquired by different departments of BLL
Information systems are usually as a result of the information needs of an organization hence it is usually developed according to the functional areas. For the case of BLL, various systems will be required for different departments and levels of management.
The following information systems will be of great significance to the operations of BLL:
Manufacturing Information System
This is the core of a manufacturing concern. It is used for production planning, resource allocations and scheduling of work. It entails computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing systems (CAM) and other systems that support resource allocation, raw material procurement, maintenance and scheduling. Manufacturing information systems can be in the form of integrated CAD/CAM which actually performs much of the core manufacturing roles of product design at the same time control of plant. In some cases manufacturing information systems have been used to do inventory control, raw materials management and quality assurance. Manufacturing IS at the same time can be a whole system supporting all functional roles of a manufacturing concern.
Manufacturing information system produces both tactical and strategic information needs and consequently serves all levels of management. For strategic use, manufacturing IS will avail information acquisition options for new plant and machinery and on tactical information needs, Manufacturing IS will avail information mainly for production cost control and resource allocation.
Accounting information system
This is an information system that mainly deals with accounting transactions processing and financial reporting and it traverses the whole organization departments and levels of management. Transaction processing subsystems includes cashbook management, payment processing, bank reconciliation and imprest administration. This module only deals with the capture of financial information from different operation procedures. Accounting information system is able to carry out a number of analyses that relate to different departments’ financial costs. These might include; budgetary analysis which shows departmental actual costs in relation to the budgeted costs, investment decision analysis which relates to purchase of machinery and other capital expenditures and procurement support analysis. Strategic management can use this system for this crucial accounting process.
Human Resource Information System
This information system supports manpower planning and scheduling. Labor is very critical for any organizational process, consequently HRMS systems have to be in place in order to organize human resource. This system includes leave days management, labor scheduling, job description management and payroll processing. Usually, most organizations have incorporated HRM in their accounting and financial system but for a focused institution, human resources are critical resources which requires close management and supervision, in this regard, the human resource management systems must be able to support and encourage attraction and retention of well trained manpower
Marketing Information System
This systems supports the marketing department achieve its information needs. This system ensures promotion of BLL’s products through advertising and also identification of the firm’s customer’s hence building relationship with them (Business-to-customer relationship B-2-B). Through marketing information system BLL is able to have feedback from customers hence develop products that satisfies customers’ requirements. Additionally it is worth noting that though marketing information system may look much of a transaction processing system, it may also help strategic management through their market intelligence information. Market intelligence information relates to the behaviors of competitors which will be relevant in making strategic decisions. Marketing information systems also do help in analyzing market trends and demand curve. This will help demand forecast which will affect manufacturing department regarding required quantities, procurement and logistic units as regards required inputs and when they are needed. Advance Marketing Information Systems and Customer Relationship Management Systems are also used especially in service industry where client relationship and personalized services are required for customer retention.
Computer Based Information Systems usually run on a computer network, this is a medium of interconnections between computers. For effective information systems, communication is a very important aspect as a result computer network forms the basic foundations for computer communications. For the case of BLL, all computers within BLL premises should be connected together irrespective of the departments’ locality. Since they are functional units within BLL, several sub networks will be there for different department and all this sub networks needs to be interconnected.
Workings of shop floor data collection systems
Shop-floor data collection system is a centre where all information regarding the manufacturing processes of BLL are displayed. This information is collected in real time and will include information such as staff attendance area of operation relative to time, machine status, processing status of different products, processes and product costing and finally processing losses. This information system is able to give information on real time as to processing status and employees involved and their cost. BLL would be able at any instance of time to give processing status of a special order to the customer with real time precision.
Shop-floor data collection system for BLL:
Working of a Shop-Floor Data Collection System
The information on the shop-floor data collection system is usually collected via data collection terminals. These terminals are small devices within the manufacturing plant premises used to input information regarding processing status, quality control data, order status, operations time and employees involved. At every processing level, terminals are used to capture requisite data and immediately transmitted either via a cable network or wirelessly to a shop-floor LCD screens which are visible to everyone. Data collection terminals are easy to use and no prerequisite knowledge on usage is required.
From the above diagram the data flow is indicated by the direction of the arrows and the numbered oval shapes indicates different data collection terminals from purchase of raw materials to finished goods. Purchasing department will have a terminal that will capture the cost of purchases and the nature of raw materials. The inventory terminal will indicate the quantity of raw material stock in the stores. In the factory unit, several terminals will be used from terminal 3 to 6. They will capture information regarding the work in process and their status, employees on duty, maintenance scheduling and production losses. Finished goods and logistic unit will capture information regarding finished goods and the transport arrangements to the clients’ premises. With the development of shop-floor data collection systems, BLL will be able to implement a practical human resource incentive schemes which are transparent and rewarding to hardworking employees. Proper decision making will also be made easy with available data on the machine work schedules, production analysis and maintenance schedules.
Hard ware and software for shop-floor data collection system
Shop-floor data collection system uses simple networking cable for its networking. Data collection terminals are used for data capture and will include; bar code scanners and relays. LCD screens are also some of the hardware devices mainly used for information output. Shop-floor data collection system software is; manufacturing execution system software which supports workflow monitoring, scheduling and materials management. This software actually monitors processing in the factory which will indicate the status of products.
Organizational information systems will always vary relative to the industry to which the organization lies. For the case of BLL it is relevant that it develops a manufacturing information system that will handle all functional requirements of different department. The information needs across all levels of management should also be catered for by these functional information systems.
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