CHICAGO, Mar. 14, 2000 — It’s a classic success story: rising from a lowly position on the shop floor to a position of responsibility for the entire company and more. Only this time, the spotlight isn’t on a person, it’s on a software platform.
Microsoft’s Windows DNA for Manufacturing platform, started life three years ago as a collection of operating system and tool components to support shop floor operations, has been “promoted” to support broader e-manufacturing needs — including computer-aided design and supply-chain functions — and the enhanced platform was re-launched as Windows DNA for Manufacturing (DNA-M) in February 1999.
Today, a “who’s who” of hundreds of manufacturers, independent software and hardware vendors, business-to-business portals, systems integrators and others — including Commerx Inc.’s PlasticsNet.com, Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, Ernst & Young, Eastman Chemical, Honeywell Inc.’s MyPlant.com TM , Gates Rubber, National Instruments, OceanSpray Cranberries, the OPC Foundation, Rohm and Haas, SAP AG, Siemens Nixdorf Information Systems Inc., VerticalNet Inc. — use the platform in their own manufacturing and engineering operations or support it for use by their manufacturing and engineering customers.
That growing success this week was acknowledged formally at the National Manufacturing Week (NMW) show in Chicago, when Windows DNA for Manufacturing won a prestigious 1999 Editors’ Choice award from Control Engineering Magazine as one of the
“best of the best for users of automation, control and instrumentation,”
according to Mark T. Hoske, editor-in-chief of Control Engineering and Control Engineering Online . The award was made on the basis of Windows DNA for Manufacturing’s service to the industry, technological advancement and market impact.
The Windows DNA for Manufacturing story continued to expand at the NMW show, when Microsoft announced that the manufacturing and engineering applications of five key providers — Alibre Inc., Parametric Technology Corp., Datasweep Inc., SolidWorks Corp., and Motiva Corp. — have joined the roster of those that are fully certified for compatibility with Microsoft Windows 2000, a key component of Windows DNA 2000 for Manufacturing.
“Thousands of applications run on Windows 2000, of course, but these vendors have also ensured compatibility with all elements of the 77-page Windows 2000 Application Specification, a rigorous requirement that provides an unprecedented user experience for manufacturers, engineers and process-oriented industrial companies,”
said Don Richardson, industry manager for manufacturing at Microsoft.
Supporting Everything From Medical Manufacturing to E-Business Portals
Among the growing range of manufacturers benefiting from this openness and compatibility is Siemens Medical Systems Inc., the world’s largest medical device manufacturer. Its Patient Care Systems (PCS) Group in Danvers, Mass. develops, manufactures and markets respiratory care products, patient monitoring systems, anesthesia solutions and cardiology systems using Windows DNA components and compatible third-party products, including SolidWorks Corp. computer-aided design software.
“The reliable data translation tools in SolidWorks have simplified the conversion of many of our existing CAD-based parts for use in new assemblies,”
said PCS senior mechanical engineer Per O. Hoel.
“And because SolidWorks was developed from the ground up with Windows in mind, it makes it easy for anyone familiar with Windows and part design to jump right in and make some real headway.”
In a very different market, Windows DNA for Manufacturing is also fueling the growth of Eastman Chemical Company’s Commerce One business-to-business e-commerce solution, which dynamically links buying and supplying organizations into real-time trading communities. On the purchasing side, it enables Eastman Chemical personnel to buy goods and services and to create and manage a multi-supplier catalog. And enabling Commerce One are Windows DNA components such as its open XML architecture, BackOffice server applications, the Windows operating system and more.
“By leveraging Commerce One’s open XML architecture, our employees can tap directly into vendors’ inventory management systems and receive immediate feedback on products, pricing and availability,”
said Eddie Page, purchasing manager for Eastman Chemical.
“We chose to support Commerce One with Microsoft technology because we needed to ensure reliability and performance throughout the system, from front end to back end. And we are getting the results we anticipated.”
A Growing Desire for E-Manufacturing and Business-to-Business E-Commerce
According to Microsoft’s Don Richardson, the large and growing support for Windows DNA for Manufacturing is an outgrowth of the industry’s desire for e-manufacturing and business-to-business e-commerce platforms that create efficiencies by allowing separate companies, suppliers, partners and customers to work together seamlessly.
“Now more than ever, customers are asking for open system environments within their manufacturing organizations,”
“With the aggressive work that our hundreds of partners have put into software interoperability with Windows DNA for Manufacturing, customers can now purchase more than a thousand applications that will allow for system interoperability.”
By promoting such interoperability, Windows DNA for Manufacturing enables manufacturing companies to share information within their organizations, as well as with the supply community, the collaborative engineering community and the customer community — the three independent communities that must have open information and processing with manufacturers to enable full e-manufacturing.
The Microsoft approach to e-manufacturing creates an open procurement environment in which a manufacturer can give its suppliers an open view into the manufacturing operation to more accurately assess supply requirements and logistics. Manufacturers can also engage in Web-based auctioning and reverse auctioning to ensure the best prices, based on tight delivery parameters.
Windows DNA for Manufacturing also enables a collaborative engineering environment in which manufacturers can work with their engineering partners in areas such as materials research, design, simulation and process control. As a result, the manufacturers can gain shorter times-to-market and lower development costs.
A third innovation supported by Windows DNA for Manufacturing is an open self-service environment for customers and employees. Customers can go online to gain predictable delivery information, financing and warranty options, insurance, volume discounts and product specifications. Self-service environments enabled through Windows DNA can also facilitate employee processes such as human resources and finance.
“Customer requirements are rapidly changing as e-manufacturing needs and capabilities continue to expand,”
“One thing that won’t change is our determination to continue evolve Windows DNA for Manufacturing to accommodate the growing range of companies and processes that our manufacturing and engineering customers want to incorporate into their online solutions.”