Background of the Study
Evolution of Fort Wayne Plant
The Fort Wayne plant facility, originally from WILMEC, was constructed in mid-1960’s specifically to manufacture the type of custom machine called a “large vertical”. In 1985, WILMEC moved its “medium horizontal” production capability to Fort Wayne, Indiana. After 5 years, GE Inc. abandoned its custom machine business and sold it to WILMEC’s. GE’s production equipment was then moved to WILMEC’s Fort Wayne plant, however, the GE technology is very different from the 2 custom machines which WILMEC produces, it is called “large horizontal”. With the 3 machine types, Fort Wayne continued its production until in mid-1995 WILMEC’s sold all of its custom machine engineering, manufacturing and sales operation to IMT.
The Fort Wayne Plant transitioned from a busy single-product, focused factory to a factory that was nearly closed (due to a lack of orders) and
employed only a few hundred workers. It then evolved into a facility that supported three technically different products (large-horizontal, large-vertical, and medium-horizontal custom machines) that had originated from three different factories with three different engineering design systems.
In mid-1993, IMT closed the Cleveland site and transferred the engineering and marketing staffs to either Fort Wayne or Chicago. As the Fort Wayne plant evolved to support multiple product lines, numerous informal procedures emerged to handle day-to-day situations. These undocumented processes worked despite the incompatibilities among the three different technologies, which used three separate drafting systems as well as unique manufacturing processes. Very little capital had been invested to upgrade the operations during the last several years of WILMEC’s ownership. Not until IMT had completed the purchase of the technology and the factories in 1995 had a major capital upgrade program even been considered. Low margin and capital budget limits had prevented significant upgrades.
In early 1996, the plant was reorganized into three product lines. Each of the three machine types was considered a separate product line and profit center.
The Hardware Platform of the IS Division
The IS division uses IBM mainframes:
•IBM model S/390- The current mainframe
•IBM AS/400- inherited from General Engineering during the acquisition. The MIS personnel attempted to facilitate these mainframes, transferring data between the two systems. However this was not easily achieved due to information security issues. Since 1996, the heaviest use of the mainframe was from the computer-aided drafting (CAD) and engineering users. Its usage was approximately sixty-five percent (65%) of the current mainframe and about fifty-four percent (54%) of the S/390’s CPU capacity.
Statement of the Problem
In this study the major problem is how to find a good decision and direction for IMT Information Systems without the need of exerting too much effort and money in the hardware platform or system’s upgrade.
Cited below are some of the specific problems of the case study: •How will the company balance the need for technological changes to continue accomplishment of routine task? •What are the problems encountered by the current IS environment?
The objective of the study is to propose a new and latest hardware platform that will suit best on the applications needed by the Fort Wayne’s Information System.
•To improve the software used by the company for several years. •To evaluate the managerial issues of computing, including the centralization and decentralization of computing. •To make an assessment of which of the three (3) given options by Browning are more appropriate for the company to use.
The study used qualitative research at the beginning of the design process to uncover innovations. This results with the advantage of being useful when budgetary decisions have to be taken into account. This research design is also useful even if you know little about the topic. It uses plain observation as a main source of data. Naturalistic observation was used since the objective is to examine each department for root causes of problems.
Sources of Data
The study acquires data simply through observations, existing studies and documentations.
Since the research design has limited means to gather data, the only research instrument used in developing the entire system was the case itself and some readings from the internet.
Data Gathering Procedure
Data were gathered through data mining, which is much easier than the survey and interview techniques. The proponents simply took time in going to the school library and surfing the net collecting various information from books, websites and other documentations which is required to begin and to finish the study.
DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
In this chapter, the data acquired through the examination of the different subunits under the Information System’s (IS) division are further discussed.
Figure 2.1 Data Flow among Functional Areas of IMT CMCI’s Information System
Figure 2.1 presents the flow of significant data among the different subunits under the IS division. From the different division the following findings below were notably considered:
•Marketing – This unit uses a mainframe negotiation program written in COBOL where results from the technical description of specification for a new machine of a customer were interpreted and has a Query System used to analyze data from ongoing negotiations as well as contracts won or lost.
•Admin and Finance – The purchase order, accounts payable and accounts
receivable were the three (3) systems, which were custom developed by GE’s MIS staff on the AS/400.
•Engineering – This subunit was responsible for handling three (3) separate design systems for the three (3) types of custom machine that Fort Wayne produces.
•Drafting – At Fort Wayne, CAD applications ran on the IBM mainframe and consisted of eighty-five (85) seats of CAD. (A “seat” was one hardware CAD setup with a high-resolution screen, keyboard, function button box, and a pointing device that functioned like a mouse.) The development of the automatic drawing progress was very convenient with both CAD and the custom machine design program on the same platform.
•Manufacturing – When all the drawings for a custom machine were completed, the BOM (Bill of Material was manually transferred from the drawings into the BOM database system, called DBOMP. With the three (3) types of custom machine, DBOMP could not handle the large drawing numbers and no one at Fort Wayne knew the DBOMP code well enough to make changes. In this case, the MIS group was backlogged in supporting the rapid changes that were occurring at the Fort Wayne Plant.
•Test – Test information was written on a form that was interpreted and copied from the customer’s specification in marketing and engineering. Test department had several PCs connected to LAN.
•Human Resources – There were no plans to connect the LAN with Fort Wayne’s mainframe due to security corners over the confidentiality personnel records residing on the HR’s computers. Besides, the HR organization was not even considered a local support issue because its applications were supported from the corporate MIS group in New York.
After acquiring the findings above, the group cited specific problems encountered on some of the subunits of the IS, and they were as follows: 1.The Admin and Finance is the only subunit which is not under the current
mainframe of the Fort Wayne. The systems for this department are developed in the IBM AS/400 mainframe. 2.At the Manufacturing Department, when a computerized system failed to provide needed functionality, paper systems were created to support the information needs. This is due to the large number of drawings in CAD that DBOMP could not handle. 3.PCs in the Test Department are connected to the mainframe but only used occasionally. Furthermore, electronic test result data were not shared on the mainframe but remained in the test department LAN only.
Below are three (3) major options presented by Charles Browning: 1.Centralized Computing. Commit to staying with the current mainframe for all important applications such as the CAD and the DBOMP though it would be a long-term venture. Discourage the use of UNIX work stations and eliminate the AS/400 and place the Admin and Finance along with the other department systems in one mainframe.
2.Workstation Computing. A strategy that will discard the mainframe, make significant investments in the UNIX workstations, PCs, servers and LANs and will architect a full client/server environment. Install high-speed network to link all computers via LAN and install gateways to bridge between networks. One database would serve the entire UNIX network system. And CAD and other major applications will be shifted off the mainframe to dedicated UNIX workstations. But the process is expected to take approximately 10 years before mainframes could be downgraded and migrated to workstations. 3.Watch Carefully. Do not act yet. Wait and see what develops and decide only as circumstances force key issues. This means that each decision would be made in response to immediate demands and on lowest risk and least expensive alternative at decision time.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
The case study was conducted to propose an intelligent strategy for the Information Systems Department of the Fort Wayne Plant, which is a
subsidiary company of International Machine and Tool (IMT-USA).
The IS division made several proposals of incremental solutions for the needs of their system, however, they could not acquire the specific solution which will show them what modifications should be done and how would it be done.
The proponents examined different units under the IS departments and searched for the root problems existing in the division. The third option, “Watch carefully. Do not act yet.” was chosen by the group as the best among the options presented and strategically developed the plans to solve the problems.
After the study has been conducted, the proponents concluded that to be able to plan a working solution for an existing system. A careful observation and examination of functionality of units under the system must be done in order to trace the root causes of problems and to provide direct solutions to it.