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Unformatted text preview: Psychological and Organizational Aspects of Computer-Aided Manufacturing CHRIS CLEGG and MARTIN CORBETT University of Sheffield This review examines some of the psychological and organizational aspects of com- puter-aided manufacturing. It provides a selective review of the literature, a summary of our own research, and some suggestions on prospects for future research and de- velopment into the links between IT and behavior. The thrust of this review is that the psychological and organizational aspects of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) are of critical importance, both in their own right and because of their impact on the performance of the work system itself, and on the organization more widely. Our objectives are threefold: (1) to provide a sum- mary of the principal relevant literature; (2) to describe the research currently being undertaken by a group of researchers at the University of Sheffield Social and Ap- plied Psychology Unit; ~ and (3) to offer some conclusions about the links between information technology and behavior, along with some suggestions for future re- search and development work. COMPUTER-AIDED MANUFACTURING (CAM) CAM is the generic term for computer-based systems that are directly used in the manufacture of goods. They are based on micro-electronic technology and have developed particularly rapidly over the last 10 years. No attempt is made to provide an exhaustive description of these technologies, but we describe three particular examples. In recent years there have been efforts to replace manual machine tools for cutting metal with computerized numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools, which are faster, more reliable, and more consistent in the quality of their output. A CNC machine tool also cuts metal but it is controlled by a computer program, usually in the form of a tape. It requires the same preparatory activities as a manual machine (machine and tool setting), but thereafter the computer tape (rather than the oper- ator) controls the machine. However, the tape first needs preparation (program- ming), then checking (proving out), and then correcting or improving (editing). Stand-alone CNC machine tools are the most common instances of CAM throughout the world. Current Psychological Research & Reviews, Summer 1986, 189-204. 190 Current Psychological Research & Reviews / Summer 1986 The next generation of technology enables several such machines to be linked to create a flexible manufacturing system (FMS). Flexibility is the key characteristic of an FMS in that it can manufacture a range of products and allow quick change-overs. A typical FMS comprises several CNC machines, some automatic transfer capability between them, and may include some robots for manipulation purposes. The system is integrated by computer....
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