Automative Industry and Computers Management Information How Term Paper

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Automative Industry and Computers

Management Information

How computers (over the years) have affected and changed automotive industry and auto sales.

How computers (over the years) have affected and changed automotive industry and auto sales.

History of Automotive Industry

Time Line of Developing Technologies

Emergence of Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS)


The Role of Computers in Sale and Marketing

How computers (over the years) have affected and changed automotive industry and auto sales.

Current essay is a discussion of the role and impact of computer on manufacturing and sales of autos. To better understand how and why the automotive industry is where it is today, a brief historical background of the automotive industry is offered. The development of the automobile can be tracked back to 1769 when Nicolas Joseph Cugnot of France built the first vehicle, (Olsen 2002). Cugnot is recognized by the British Automobile Club and the Automobile Club de France as being the first producer of a car. The United States on the other hand recognizes inventor, Oliver Evans, from Philadelphia, who in 1805 invented the automobile when he patented the first steam-powered vehicle. The idea was short lived when his attempt to find financial backers for his company, Experiment Co., failed.

An inventor in Massachusetts, Sylvester Roper, followed Evans in 1860, claiming that he developed a steam engine vehicle, which was capable of a top speed of 25 miles per hour, fueled by coal, and could carry two passengers. Again, no financial backing could be found to produce this vehicle. Several other attempts at steam-powered vehicles were made with similar fates. It was not until the internal combustion engine was developed and improved upon that the automobile industry ignited.

To briefly look at the historical development of the internal engine we must go back to 1680 to a Dutch physicist, Christian Huygens, who designed a combustion engine fueled by gunpowder. It would be an additional 127 years prior to the building of a functional internal combustion engine. In 1807, Francois Isaac de Rivaz invented an internal combustion engine that used a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen for fuel. He then designed a car for his engine -- the first internal combustion powered automobile (Banham 2002; Erjavec 2005). Jean Joeseph Etienne Lenoir invented and patented a double-acting, electric spark-ignition internal combustion engine in 1858. Nikolaus Otto, in 1876, produced the first four-stroke ?gasoline engine in Germany, while the first successful two-stroke engine was invented by Sir Dougald Clerk. Within nine years of Otto's development of the four-stroke engine, fellow Germans, Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, had built what is often recognized as the prototype of the modern gas engine, vertical cylinder with gasoline injected through a carburetor (patented in 1887) and produces a low volume marketable vehicle. This marketed vehicle was possible due to the characteristic of the engine that had relatively high power and was lightweight for the time; two essential factors for a viable automotive application (, retrieved 9/15/07).

Everything was basically in place to develop and market the car to the public. By 1894, Henry Ellis of the English Parliament endeavored to purchase an automobile. This venture led him to the Paris machine-tool company of Panhard et Lavassor (P&L) and he commissioned an automobile, (Womack, Jones, & Ross, 1990). The P&L was building several hundred automobiles per year, with the basic architecture of today's vehicles -- System Panhard -- meaning the engine was in front, with passengers seated behind and drive shafts turning the rear wheels.

Even though it was the Germans that pioneered the technology base for the automobile of today, it is the United States that is really credited with the development of, and driving the volume industry in the present mass market form today.

Time Line of Developing Technologies

Keys (1993) argued in 1993 that major technologies within the volume (American) automotive industry had remained largely unchanged for almost the previous 50-60 years, with only modest incremental improvements and feature additions.

Emergence of Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS)

The major role of computers can be seen in the FMS. The FMS helps an organization with its agility, flexibility, and rapid response time, particularly in a ?high-mix environment where the number of unique parts and differing designs are high. An FMS is a highly automated system for discrete part manufacturing, with ability to process different kinds of operations. These FMS systems are highly automated and integrated systems that automate processing, material handling and storage retrieval operations (Kalpakjian, 1995).

An FMS is usually a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) operation that is controlled by a distributed central computer system. It is characterized by conveyors, robotics for handling, automated processing, computer controllers, part programming, and automated part storage and retrieval systems. An FMS has the ability to identify and distinguish between the different parts and possesses the ability to changeover quickly and easily during the physical part setup.

FMS have evolved naturally from traditional manufacturing facilities attempting to respond to JIT and world class manufacturing principles. The driving forces that give rise to the FMS are many. A wide variety of product types required from a single facility are one key driver. The short product life cycles with a need for shorter times to markets play right into the hands of the FMS facility. Small volumes, short lead times, tight due dates and stringent quality requirements drive the need for high degrees of automation, computer controllers and intelligent operating software. This computer automation and control becomes the cornerstone of the FMS.

Most U.S. manufacturing companies today look towards CAD/CAM and CIM to provide the basis for their flexibility (Kalpakjian, 1995). Where CAD/CAM is computer aided design and manufacturing, and CIM is computer integrated manufacturing. With CIM, design data are integrated with manufacturing processes and equipment to perform the production automation process. These automation tools provide the infrastructure that is needed to run an effective FMS. The use of computers in manufacturing today is quite common, and the benefits of CIM are becoming quite well-known. Not only are today's manufacturing systems being designed with high levels of automation for machining and part-processing, but also the handling and movement of parts from machine to machine, or operation to operation, as well as the sequencing of these operations is being computer controlled. These systems are capable of producing a wide range of parts, and as computer integrated manufacturing becomes realized, a greater range of computer and engineering knowledge is required to setup and operate these manufacturing systems. The importance of integrating product design and process design to achieve a design-for production system has never been more important. Furthermore, manufacturing science principles, mechanical design skills, industrial engineering disciplines, and computer science knowledge are needed more than ever by the FMS engineer. These flexible systems, in particular, provide the solution for the automated production for a low to medium batch size manufacturing facility.


Kaizen -- process of continuous improvement, was born out of necessity. Cashstrapped Japanese plants, notably Toyota, could not afford to hire large amounts of labor as was done in the United States. Some U.S. employees were hired to rework defects. So Japanese line workers were enlisted to conduct their own quality control to correct any defects they found on the spot. If a problem required more extensive repair the worker was authorized to pull a cord stopping the assembly line, and then to systematically trace the problem back to the root. This process, usually employing several layers of why's, eventually becoming the 5-why's, was developed so that a permanent fix could be developed to prevent reoccurrence.

The system developed by Toyota and adopted by much of Japan gave the Japanese firms an advantage in both quality and reliability. The Japanese system forced engineers to build quality and reliability into the design of their vehicle by utilizing past experiences and cross-functional teams. The Japanese also pursued for slow continuous improvement as well.

In a similar manner as the incorporation of solid state in the consumer electronics industry, the automobile is seeing an increasing addition, incorporation, integration of more and more sophisticated solid state electromechanical and electronic sensors, controls, mechatronics (software control) subsystems. These are being used for sophisticated timing and control monitoring and spark control (engine management); to achieve reductions in pollutants (emission controls); increased power; and better fuel efficiencies.

Another example of this more sophisticated mechatronics use impact is an adaptive control suspension system, tire pressure monitoring and diagnostic communications with original equipment manufacturers to trouble shoot problems and potential problems.

So the simple hybrid system is now becoming, evolving into a much more sophisticated complex system, subsystem of more and more hybridization; similar to the consumer electronics hybrid paradigm. This also has drastically increased and added to the size, complexity, cost of the resulting new product design development process and maintenance challenges. From the additional expectations of the consumer; increased use and blending of electronics; computers and software; engineering skill base expansions; the reduced time to market; ever increasing expectation and requirements for reliability; ease and cost of…[continue]

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