The transition from design to process planning and to the various stages of manufacturing is traditionally sequential. In many cases, practical problems associated with manufacturing cannot be resolved if only individual processes are examined. These problems can be overcome, however, by adopting the CALS approach. This approach requires global observation and allows actual and current information to flow both forward and backward. This information, regardless of the specific process in which it has been generated, is used to improve the entire global process. This paper is concerned with the design and manufacture of sheet metal parts. It is demonstrated that through implementation of the CALS approach, the overall process can be optimised and products can be manufactured significantly more accurately, faster and less expensively.