A model for the design of computer integrated manufacturing systems: Identification of information requirements of decision makers

Jens Rasmussen

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    A predominant interest in recent design research has been the development of a general model of the design process to formulate a framework within which support systems based on modern information technology can be developed. Similarly, for manufacturing systems, advanced information systems are developed to support production planning and control processes as they are found in the present organizations. In this case, the result has been the evolution of "islands of automation" and in the CIM literature, integration is widely discussed in terms of standardization of communication protocols and compatibility of data bases. It is, however, a question whether traditional models of work process or task procedures are suited for design of advanced information systems such as integrated manufacturing systems. Modern technology and the rapid succession of designs, materials and processes require flexible systems; tasks and functions of people are not stable, and introduction of advanced tools will influence work procedures, roles of people and organizational structures. Design of integrated information systems should neither be based on normative work procedures, nor on past role allocations. Design should rather aim at creating a resource envelope within which people can adapt their work strategies to the current requirements and personal preferences without loosing support from the system. This requirement implies that for design purposes, models of procedures and processes should be replaced by structural models of means and ends in the work domain, of the decision tasks in general,domain independent terms, together with the effective decision strategies, and of the human resources and preferences. The paper presents an analysis of a number of actual engineering design projects. The design processes and production planning in these cases involve decisions within several different work domains which are normally known in detail by different people. The cases are used to illustrate how an explicit representation of the means-ends relations of the work domain can be used to identify the information requirements of the decision makers involved, the role of the different decision makers, and their interaction. In addition, it is shown how this representation is useful to analyze the propagation of changes through a system, when resources are changed, by introduction of new tools or change of staffing
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)5-16
    Publication statusPublished - 1990


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