Manufacturing sector IT review of the year

In a year of tight budgets, manufacturers have looked to IT to streamline processes and reduce energy bills. We look at the top IT stories in the sector during 2009

Technology options for centralised UK smart energy network

Britain's root and branch revamp of its energy supply system can begin, after the government announced it will push for a centralised "smart grid" communications network to link some 47 million smart gas and electricity meters by 2020. Work on technical specifications for the network and meters is expected to start immediately and to be finalised in early summer 2010.

Cadbury streamlines IT procurement to help fend off Kraft

Cadbury has revealed plans to slim down its £70m annual spending on IT support as it steps up its fight against a hostile takeover bid from US food group Kraft.

Roger Carr, Cadbury's chairman, slammed the takeover bid as a blatant and opportunistic attempt, branding Kraft's approach contemptuous to shareholders

In a briefing to analysts, Cadbury disclosed plans to cut its procurement costs, including IT purchases, by creating a global organisation that could benefit from economies of scale.

BAT picks Accenture for global apps roll-out

UK tobacco firm British American Tobacco (BAT) has tapped Accenture for a five-year application co-sourcing deal aimed at producing a global, simplified and standardised applications infrastructure. The two firms will design applications jointly for finance, supply chain, sales and marketing based mainly on SAP and Siebel software. Accenture will write the apps for global, regional and local use.

IT lay-offs in GM revamp may take months to emerge

It is too soon to tell how many IT workers will be laid off in the restructuring of General Motors, the biggest US car and truck maker, which will emerge from bankruptcy protection in 60 to 90 days. The slimmer "New GM" will have less debt and lower operating costs, thanks to a $33bn deal struck today between itself, the US and Canadian governments and worker bodies.

IT could cut global energy bill by $900bn, says ITU

Automation and telepresence technologies could cut $900bn a year from the world's energy bill.

Malcolm Johnson, director of the standardisation bureau at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), told Computer Weekly that this saving was possible if technologies such as these were extended across all industries.

Magners savours sweet taste of EDI success

Irish cider brewer Magners has extended its Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system to improve the way it processes sales and invoices. It predicts the move will reduce costs, improve customer services and speed up cash flow.

Sanofi-Aventis witness to £3m stock savings

A production modelling and simulation tool has put pharmaceutical maker Sanofi-Aventis on track to save £3m-a-year from factory efficiencies. The firm installed UK-based Lanner's Witness modelling software at its Fawdon site, which packs drugs in containers ranging from 10kg to 300kg.

Vodafone seeks share of €9bn M2M market

Vodafone is launching a communications platform to enable companies to speed up and reduce risk on projects where machines communicate with each other. Vodafone anticipates a trebling of investment in machine to machine (M2M) communications projects over the next five years.

Solar powered plane ready for take off

Solar Impulse HB-SIA, the world's first aircraft the first aircraft designed to fly around the clock without using fossil fuel or polluting the planet, was unveiled at a Swiss military airfield last week. The project, which aims to show how new technology can be harnessed to fight climate change, is the brainchild of adventurer Bertrand Piccard and fighter pilot Andre Borschberg.

Read more on IT project management