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A case study of virtual team working in the European automotive industry
journal contributionposted on 24.05.2006, 10:22 by Andrew MayAndrew May, Chris Carter
This paper presents a case study based on some of the results of the Team-based European Automotive Manufacture (TEAM) project. TEAM investigated how advanced information technology and telecommunications (IT&T) could support co-operative working along the automotive engineering supply chain. Based on a user-requirements analysis, a software demonstrator was developed that incorporated video conferencing, shared whiteboard, application sharing and product data management tools. Workplace-based user evaluations took place with this demonstrator, involving approximately 40 engineers in four countries. A non-intrusive, user-centred evaluation approach encompassing real working during the product introduction process (PIP) was used. Results indicate the potential to increase the efficiency and the flexibility of working of distributed engineering teams, with potential time savings of between 10 and 50% for different stages in the PIP. In terms of cost savings, it was found that a potential overall saving of 20% in development time could increase sales volume by about £1 billion, and cut costs by about £90 million. Several human factors issues need careful management, in particular, the effect of legacy systems and data, the requirements for training and support and the impact on roles and the organisation. Finally, some basic requirements for a collaborative engineering environment are outlined.