Final Report of IMS Test Case 7

GNOSIS: Knowledge Systematization: Configuration Systems for Design and Manufacturing


This is the final report summarizing the experience and results of IMS Test Case 7, GNOSIS. Detailed reports of the work packages within GNOSIS are also available as listed in Section 8.

1.1 Long-Term Goal--A New Manufacturing Paradigm

The one year test case has been an experiment in international collaboration in pre-competitive intelligent manufacturing systems research, with the objective of defining a long-term research project. The long-term goal of the GNOSIS project is to develop a new manufacturing paradigm which recognizes problems of the present manufacturing environment--the growing scarcity of natural resources, the problem of environmental destruction, and the issues arising out of regional trade imbalances. The new post mass production paradigm is based on systematization of design and manufacturing knowledge to acquire and organize knowledge in a form that supports the design and manufacturing of soft machinery, i.e., products and factories which achieve reduced resource utilization and waste elimination throughout the whole life cycle from design to reuse or disposal. Soft products and factories are characterized by properties such as reusability, reconfigurability, and flexibility.

1.2 Short-Term Goal--Development of Support for a New Paradigm

The short-term goal of GNOSIS is to develop concepts, methodologies, technologies, and tools needed for the implementation of the new paradigm, and provide a global infrastructure capable of supporting it. Major technologies investigated include configuration management systems supporting the reuse of engineering and manufacturing knowledge in routine design and configurable production systems achieving dynamic product-specific manufacturing in flexible production systems. The major characteristics, critical drivers, and obstacles to the post mass production paradigm were identified to illuminate a path to the new paradigm. Industrial companies are already obtaining benefits from the work during the test case.

1.3 Test Case Activities

The test case has been a success. Thirty-one partners from five regions have held a series of eleven major international meetings involving over 100 professionals. The overall project concepts and objectives were refined into mutually agreed project plans with well defined tasks assignments. Electronic mail servers were set up and intensive international communication around joint work has taken place. Surveys of the state of the art were undertaken in all significant areas of the project. Methodologies and tools were shared between partners. Major experiments on widespread inter-regional joint work have been carried out. Knowledge systematization throughout a complete product life cycle has been addressed by the use of two data sets as benchmarks. These have been analyzed by different partners with advanced techniques and tools covering different stages in the product life cycle. The technical reports and other deliverables created in the project already comprise several hundred pages.

1.4 Test Case Assessment

GNOSIS partners were concerned to make a detailed assessment of this international collaboration, in terms of the cost and benefits of the participation, the problems encountered and the lessons learned for a long term program--all the partners answered a questionnaire developed for that purpose. Results of this self evaluation are summarized in Appendix A.

1.5 Test Case Results

The GNOSIS test case phase was completed at the end of February 1994. It has generated a large number of results in terms of problem solutions, industrial benefits, technical reports, work package studies, research highlights and specific project outcomes. The GNOSIS partners are now collaborating in the definition of a long-term research project, and the preliminary activities relating to this are outlined in Section 7.

Figure 1 The GNOSIS Consortium

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