A comment on Standish et al: The problem with CALS: Barriers to the development of product data exchange and the US continuous acquisition and life-cycle support programme

G Spinardi, I Graham, R Williams

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Product data exchange (PDE) offers the prospect of electronically transferring design and manufacturing data between companies. The US GALS programme is the most prominent of several initiatives with this aim. A major barrier to the use of PDE is the lack of widely used standards specifying the nature of the data to be exchanged and the structure of the messages to be used. This is often portrayed as a largely technical matter, but in practice there are major social barriers to the standardisation process. First, such standardisation is necessarily political, both in the sense of governments having competing interests, as well as in the differing requirements of military and civil users and of different industrial sectors. Second, at the heart of GALS is the concept of concurrent engineering, in which the emphasis on data sharing threatens existing hierarchical inter-organisational relationships and the retention of proprietary knowledge. Third, the complex nature of the data to be exchanged will in many cases require the companies to change their internal systems to be compatible with the standards, and this again constitutes a barrier to the use of such standards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-206
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1996

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