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processes are described by selecting process phases from the PRM. In this way we created a common understanding of the business environments in end-user companies. The next phase was the analysis of existing information tools in end-user companies. That analysis was carried out by first defining the ‘information reference model’ (IRM), and then by fulfilling the IRM with end-user companies.

Discussion and conclusions Globally operating companies should manage all supply chain processes (purchasing, making, delivering and planning), which requires a large amount of information. Lefebvre and Lefebvre [4] argue that SMEs can be more innovative than large organizations because they are less bound by bureaucracy and cumbersome organizational systems. SMEs will be able to be more competitive as they can introduce new technologies quickly, both manufacturing and supporting technologies. Investment in new technologies could be equally hard for SMEs however, due to their lack of resources. Companies have various sets of individual solutions without communication links to each other. The ESKALE project developed a solution called the Manufacturing Information Portal targeted at traditional SMEs in the manufacturing industry. The development of the MIP consisted of an existing business process analysis, ICT requirement analysis and literature survey of existing solutions targeted at manufacturing companies. All the ideas from the process analysis and the literature survey were included in the operational and technical requirements of the MIP. The ESKALE end-user companies implemented and evaluated the new MIP. The software provider was responsible for further development and commercialization of the MIP.

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Acknowledgement ESKALE was a transnational research project funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes, FI) and Projektträger Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (PTKA, DE). The project consisted of four enduser SMEs: Hubstock Oy (FI), Ovitor Oy (FI), Gleistein Ropes (DE) and Bischoff International AG (DE), and one software provider, CAS software AG (DE). Two research institutes were also involved in the project: the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT, FI) and the Bremen Institute for Production and Logistics (BIBA, DE).

References [1] Yin, R. Case study research: design and methods. 3rd edition, Applied social research methods series; v. 5. Sage Publications, Inc., 2003. [2] Hemilä, J. Information technologies for value network integration. VTT Research Notes 2149. VTT, Espoo, Finland, 2002. [3] Okrent, M., Vokurka, R. Process mapping in successful ERP implementations. Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 104, No. 8, 2004, pp. 637–643. [4] Lefebvre, E. & Lefebvre, L. Firm Innovativeness and CEO Characteristics in Small Manufacturing Firms. Journal Engineering and Technology Management 9(3–4), 1992, pp. 243–272.

VTT Research Highlights 3  

Production matters. VTT in global trends. Kai Häkkinen (ed.)

VTT Research Highlights 3  

Production matters. VTT in global trends. Kai Häkkinen (ed.)