Title: Information technology as a source of competitive advantage in the glass container industry: the case of Spain
Authors: Federico Marbella Sanchez, Maria Felisa Munoz Doyague
Addresses: University of Leon, Faculty of Economics and Business Studies, Campus de Vegazana, 24171 Leon, Spain. ' University of Leon, Faculty of Economics and Business Studies, Campus de Vegazana, 24171 Leon, Spain.
Abstract: This article describes how information technology (IT) can be a source of competitive advantage in the glass container industry in Spain. To this end, the crucial structural features of the industry are first considered, showing that it is a mature, highly competitive industry in which there is a combination of continuous production and flexible (batch) systems. As a result, it is clear that there is a need to bring together principles traditionally seen as opposed, such as flexibility and low costs. Study of the value chain of the industry leads to the conclusion that the most crucial activity, because of its impact on costs, is operational activity (production). Concentrating on the impact of IT on this shows that it is a source of competitive advantage to the extent that it: (a) allows quality cost reduction by avoiding internal and external failures, through use of CAD in container design; (b) favours innovation and differentiation of container design; (c) reduces direct production costs (costs of raw material and energy for melting), through CAM; (d) permits integration of production and related activities in computing terms through CIM; and (e) allows the building up of specific internal knowledge, based on computing, which competitors find hard to imitate, leading to a greater competitive edge through internal know-how.
Keywords: information technology; competitive advantage; glass container industry; Spain; quality costs; cost reduction; CAD; computer-aided design; container design; production costs; CAM; computer-aided manufacturing; CIM; computer-integrated manufacturing; internal knowledge.
International Journal of Materials and Product Technology, 1998 Vol.13 No.3/4/5/6, pp.347 - 362
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