This report is based on the results of a two-year feasibility study and
outlines an international Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) program, an
exciting opportunity for international cooperation in advanced manufacturing.
IMS can provide a vision and structure for world-
sharing of manufacturing technology development including costs, risks, and
benefits in a balanced and equitable manner.
This report covers the background and objectives of the program, summarizes the
results achieved during the IMS Feasibility Study, and makes recommendations
for a full-
IMS program with the possibility of extending the life of the program after
The IMS program is in response to common problems in the manufacturing sector
of industrialized nations. It addresses such challenges as: greater
sophistication in manufacturing operations; improved global environment;
enhancement of the discipline of manufacturing; and provision of an opportunity
for organisations of all sizes to respond to the globalisation of
manufacturing, facilitating the process of standardisation.
The IMS program was proposed by Japan in 1989 and, after many discussions
amongst high-level officials, industry, and academia representatives, an
international Secretariat group met in late 1991 to finalise guidelines for a
Feasibility Study with six Participants -
Australia, Canada, the European Community (EC), five European Free Trade
Association (EFTA) countries, Japan, and the United States. An International
Steering Committee, an International Technical Committee, and an International
Intellectual Property Rights Committee were appointed.
The Feasibility Study began in 1992. It operated under Terms of Reference which
emphasised that all contributions to, and benefits from, cooperation would be
equitable and balanced. The study consisted of two distinct parts, first the
development and evaluation of a framework and modalities for international
cooperation, and second the execution of five test case projects and one study
project aimed at gaining practical experience of collaboration. All projects
which served as test cases had at least three Participant regions represented,
and all projects were industry-
with guidelines for proper intellectual property rights protection.
Five test case projects and one study project operated during the Feasibility
Study. Technical topics included enterprise integration and global
manufacturing, systemisation of manufacturing knowledge, the control of
distributed intelligent systems, techniques for rapid product distributed
intelligent systems, and "clean" manufacturing in the process industries.
The test cases were industrially relevant and attracted world-
class companies, small and medium sized enterprises, laboratories, and
universities. The IMS Feasibility Study was a catalyst to the forming of
The Feasibility Study clearly demonstrated that guiding principles embodied in
the Terms of Reference were workable and necessary, and that the IMS framework
enhanced global manufacturing cooperation. It facilitated the establishment of
relationships amongst large companies, small companies, academic and research
institutions, and public authorities on a world-
scale. It provided a structure for sharing of intellectual property in
international consortia, and allowed this structure to be thoroughly tested. In
addition, it facilitated international discussions and assessment of what
should be the priorities for global cooperation in advanced manufacturing.
Several symposia reported the results.
The experience gained by the 140 partners involve din the test case projects
was invaluable. Cultural, language and technical barriers were rapidly
overcome. International collaboration provided added value which outweighed
additional overheads incurred through collaboration on this scale. The high
overheads should be seen in the context of a start-up exercise and could be
reduced in a steady-state, particularly through the use of electronic
Important products of the feasibility study were sound recommendations for the
IMS program, particularly recommendations for Terms of Reference for a
full-scale program and landmark intellectual property rights provisions.
- i. The ISC recommends the launch of a 10-year full-scale program in
international collaboration in advanced manufacturing, with a review in the
seventh year for a possible renewal. The objectives of the program would be:
- A. to enable greater sophistication in manufacturing operations;
- B. to improve the global environment;
- C. to improve the efficiency with which renewable and non-renewable
resources are used;
- D. to create new products and conditions which significantly improve the
quality of life for users;
- E. to improve the quality of the manufacturing environment;
- F. to develop a recognized and respected discipline of manufacturing which
will encourage the transfer of knowledge to future generations;
- G. to respond effectively to the globalization of manufacturing;
- H. to enlarge and open markets around the world; and
- I. the advancement of manufacturing professionalism worldwide by providing
global recognition and establishing an educational discipline for
- ii. A full-scale IMS program should therefore be a catalytic agent for
global cooperation in manufacturing, addressing not only the advancement of the
state of the art in manufacturing but also the raising of existing levels of
technology in many companies, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
- iii. Terms of Reference and a framework in which to conduct the full-scale
program need to be agreed upon between regions. The ISC recommends that the
guiding principles embodied in the Terms of Reference for the feasibility study
should be retained. These are:
- A. contributions to, and benefits from, such cooperation are equitable and
- B. collaborative projects must have industrial relevance;
- C. collaborative projects are carried out by inter-regional,
geographically distributed consortia;
- D. collaborative projects can occur throughout the full innovation cycle;
- E. results of collaborative projects are shared through a process of
controlled information diffusion that protects and equitably allocates any
intellectual property rights created or furnished during cooperation; and
- F. IMS project activities under government sponsorship or utilizing
government resources should not involve competitive research and
- iv. The ISC recommends that the initial Participants in a full-scale IMS
program would be the Participants who were involved in the IMS feasibility
study. Additional Participants could be considered on a case-by-case basis. It
should be ensured that any eligible party (industry, academia or research
center) which is interested in participating and has the resources to do so can
take part in the full-scale IMS program.
- v. The ISC recommends that a management structure consisting of a single
international management committee, regional secretariats and a small
interregional secretariat should be established. The infrastructure in each
region to facilitate international collaboration should be strengthened. Each
region will be responsible for supporting the costs of its own participation.
- vi. The ISC supports the approach of defining broad themes for
collaboration, but within these themes to select sharply-focused industry-led
projects. The ISC recommends that a full-scale IMS program should cover the
full innovation cycle, and allow for projects in manufacturing which fall
within any phase of the product life cycle.
- vii. The ISC recommends the IPR provision, given in Appendix of Part III,
as a minimal set of rules to which consortia should adhere. The ISC
acknowledges the importance of IPR issues and confirms that only projects
conforming with the IPR provisions should be supported. Explanatory notes of
IPR provisions should be provided to potential bidders.