The content on this page and other DBCDE document archive pages is provided to assist research and may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. See the full archive disclaimer.
2.2 ICT applications
In broad terms, ICT applications in manufacturing include the following (National Academy of Sciences 2003a):
- Computers and processors – workstations, mainframes, servers, personal digital assistants, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), bar code readers.
- Communications devices and infrastructure – telephone, local area network, wide area network, wireless networks, radio frequency identification devices (RFIDs).
- Actuators or effectors – robot arms, automated ground vehicles, numerically controlled cutters, micro-actuators.
- Sensors – dimensional gauges, machine vision, tactile and force sensors, temperature sensors, pressure sensors.
- Commodity products, acquired ‘off the shelf’ – such as operating systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, decision support packages.
- Differentiable and customisable products – such as process models and algorithms, business process configurations.
- Software for the storage and management of intellectual property – including customer information, business capabilities and procedures, resources, designs, formulas, recipes, configurations, analyses.
- Optimisation software – including artificial intelligence.
- Embedded firmware.
Adoption and use of ICT applications have, in effect, changed the orientation of manufacturing operations from predominantly mechanical and electric to electronic and digital.
In addition, ICT makes it possible to transmit, store and process larger amounts of data and information and to access a broader range of knowledge sources. In this context ICT is a core technology in manufacturing in the sense that it can bring information and other knowledge to the key functions of design, production and distribution.
As digital networks and more powerful computing allow companies to collect, communicate, exchange and analyse data more quickly and cheaply than ever before, manufacturing businesses are able to adopt a broader range of approaches (strategies) to the management of their core functions and processes (Hagel and Singer 1999). This can lead to better informed business decisions and reduce levels of uncertainty and risk.