Multimedia software tools are the focus of pan-European research to make it faster and easier for manufacturers to communicate with customers and suppliers.
Led by the Cimulation Centre, a Hawker Siddeley/BTR management buyout company specialising in factory scheduling and simulation, partners in the Factory Timeshare research will develop systems to give small teams of shopfloor staff better information to control production projects.
Time (team iconographic multimedia environment) tools will enable these teams to take strategic decisions and, in effect, to short-circuit the supply chain process.
The Internet and Java-like component software will feature strongly in the development.
Loughborough University is a partner in the £2.5m, three-year project with researchers from Italy, Austria and Switzerland. Turkey and Finland may join later.
This month the partners meet in Britain to allocate the work. The first task is to survey manufacturers to determine business needs. That will be followed by an evaluation of the technology that can fulfil those needs.