Warwick Manufacturing Group is to build an internet-based engineering `gateway’ in collaboration with leading industry and IT partners to help small automotive component makers gain access to first and second-tier suppliers.
WMG will develop the portal site, called Autoclear, in collaboration with Wolverhampton University, BT, Sun Microsystems, and industry partners Unipart, GKN and Gedas, Volkswagen’s product data management systems subsidiary. The project will be led by WMG researcher Jay Bal.
Autoclear will receive £460,000 from the European Regional Development Fund over the next three years to create the infrastructure for an electronic market place offering a new route for small suppliers to win parts orders against increasing international competition.
The gateway will serve as an electronic data inte change and brokerage facility between small parts suppliers and first and second-tier customers.
Twenty small and medium-sized companies in the UK automotive sector are being sought to participate in a pilot project over the next six months.
The European Autoclear site will be modelled on one set up in the US by the Chicago Clearing House Association and software company EDS, to help smaller firms trade electronically at low cost.
A pilot scheme has been running at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, which has formed a partnership with WMG to share e-commerce expertise.