Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS)

IMS is a program developed by the leading industrial nations to prepare for the next generation of manufacturing technologies and systems through cooperative research and development.

IMS was developed by international manufacturing executives to address real needs of industry. The program is overseen by IMS International, an umbrella organization, that makes policy, coordinates activities, shares information among participating regions and brings research partners together.

Each IMS region - Australia, Canada, Japan and USA - has its own organization to manage local activities and enlist companies, universities and research institutions as IMS research partners.

The Origins of an International IMS Research Program

The IMS program was proposed by Japan in 1989 and an international committee met in 1991 to finalize guidelines for a two-year Feasibility Study with six participating regions - Australia, Canada, The European Community, five European Free Trade Association countries, Japan and USA. The Feasibility Study began in 1992 and consisted of 2 parts; firstly the development and evaluation of a framework and modalities for international cooperation, and secondly the execution of five test case projects and one study project aimed at gaining practical experience of collaboration.

The results of the Feasibility Study are reported in the Final Report of the International Steering Committee adopted at ISC6, Hawaii, 24 to 26 January, 1994. It is available as a multi-part document through the web as WebReport, and as a single document in Adobe PostScript and Microsoft RTF.This report included Terms of Reference (ToR) for an ongoing program.

Ongoing Program

Four of the original participants ratified these ToR by January 1995 and the two meetings of the International IMS Steering Committee (ISC) have taken place in Toronto, Canada. ISC 1 was held in April and ISC 2 was held in September 1995, under the chairmanship of the Canadian Head of Delegation, William E. Hetherington, President of Allen-Bradley Canada Inc. Delegations from the four participants attended with observers from Europe who have yet to ratify the ToR. At the first meeting the ISC agreed to establish the program based on the ToR, set up a timetable for bringing proposals to future ISC meeetings for endorsement, and called for proposals. At the second meeting 2 proposals were endorsed and 2 others were considered and recommended, but were not endorsed pending resolutions of the Consotia agreements. The summarizes the decisions made at the meeting.


The program is supported by the IMS Inter-Regional Secretariat, which, until May 1997, is located in Toronto, Canada. Each region when it has ratified the ToR, has a Regional Secretariat, which acts as a focal point for partners in its region. A database of corporations, universities and research institutions, in the regions which have ratified the ToR, who are interested in becoming partners in IMS consortia is available to each regional Secretariat.

If you are located in one of the regions which have ratified the ToR, and would like more information about the IMS program you should contact your Regional Secretariat. Other regions which are interested in becoming a new participating region should read the section on Admission of New Participants in the ToR before contacting the Inter-Regional Secretariat.

The Inter-Regional Secretariat is staffed by

For more information in one of the participating regions contact

Technical Themes for Projects

A framework of technical themes has been developed to encourage possible project applicants to develop proposals which show a clear contribution to the necessity of global cooperation. They are grouped into five categories The themes are listed in an attachment.

Projects endorsed under IMS

After a detailed process of assessment, two proposals have been endorsed by the International IMS Steering Committee

There is a network created for the Globeman 21 project.

There are a number of other projects which have been put forward which are seeking partners, but have not yet reached the proposal stage. If your organization would like to participate in one of the research consortia complete the attached form and send it to the International Secretariat. If you would like general information about the program contact the Regional Secretariat in your region or IMS International .

This page is maintained by Robin Braithwaite at IMS International. Information which could be added to the page or comments on its cotents would be appreciated.

We gratefully acknowledge the Knowledge Science Institute at the University of Calgary, who have provided the computing facilities for this page.

Last updated November 30, 1995.