ByDoug Bartholomew Cimlinc, a leading maker of shop-floor information systems for the aerospace and defense industry, is working with the Open Applications Group (OAG) to develop software standards for aerospace shop-floor manufacturing. The goal is to enable maintenance and manufacturing operations to communicate more efficiently, and to lay the groundwork for fully integrated B2B e-commerce functionality. According to OAG, a nonprofit consortium of software vendors, system integrators, and technology users, some companies spend up to 40% of their IT budget on integration. Cimlinc believes a standard content model would help companies reduce these costs while improving efficiency. "Companies operating in the aerospace and defense industry will realize an increase in system interoperability, standards development, and marketplace awareness," says Mike Edelen, product engineering director at Cimlinc, a software firm based in Itasca, Ill. For one thing, Edelen points out, many shop-floor functions remain paper-based or only partly computerized, due to difficulties involved with integration of different systems. For instance, an airline mechanic may be able to order a part or component electronically, but he or she can't view the part's history, maintenance records, or other pertinent data -- such as quality information -- when ordering. Common data standards for shop-floor systems would facilitate the kind of integration that would make this information immediately available, he says. Boeing's commercial aircraft group uses Cimlinc software, as does Delta Air Lines. The system tracks work requirements and shop-floor execution, while providing electronic work instructions for employees, replacing thousands of paper manuals.