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Alliance brings e-business technologies to Wisconsin manufacturers: Supply chain collaboration key to economic growth

Dharmaraj (

Dharmaraj ("Raj") Veeramani (Large image)

The college's Global E-Business Consortium (CGEC) and the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) recently announced a strategic alliance to help Wisconsin manufacturers apply e-business technologies to benefit supply chain collaboration.

"When Wisconsin manufacturers engage in business-to-business collaboration to create responsive supply chains, it benefits not only individual companies, but the economic development of Wisconsin's manufacturing industry cluster as a whole," says CGEC Director Dharmaraj ("Raj") Veeramani, a professor of industrial, mechanical, and civil and environmental engineering, and business.

Wisconsin's small and mid-size manufacturers are finding it increasingly difficult to compete in the global market on the basis of price. Their customers, primarily large original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are often forced to seek offshore suppliers that offer lower costs for labor and materials.

One strategy to overcome these disadvantages is for suppliers to deliver additional value to the OEMs, thereby helping the OEMs justify keeping their supply base in Wisconsin. State manufacturers that adopt e-business practices can help.

"The reality of today's world is that suppliers need to provide more than parts," says Michael Klonsinski, WMEP's executive director. "They need to provide value-added services such as collaborative product design and rapid-order fulfillment that will distinguish them from low-wage competition. E-commerce is a technology that can help keep manufacturing supply chains and valuable manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin."

UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley says the partnership is an example of how the university follows through on its mission to encourage economic development in Wisconsin. "This type of partnership is just one of many ways UW-Madison benefits the state economy," Wiley, says. "Not only are we producing a well-educated workforce, we also develop partnerships that make Wisconsin companies more competitive and better able to hire our graduates once they leave here."

This alliance has initiated a pilot project with John Deere and Oshkosh Truck to develop cost-effective approaches for collaborative product development between OEMs and suppliers. The project's goal is to target at least 30 Wisconsin suppliers during the next year.

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3/3/2003