Final Report of IMS Test Case 7

GNOSIS: Knowledge Systematization: Configuration Systems for Design and Manufacturing


The legal constitution of GNOSIS was established through the Consortium Cooperation Agreement finalized in February 1993. This section summarizes the objectives, activities and organization of the test case as agreed by the consortium

2.1 Mission Statement

The present global manufacturing environment is plagued by several problems: scarcity of natural resources, environmental destruction, and regional trade imbalances. The GNOSIS project is founded on the hypothesis that final resolution of these problems requires a radical departure from the present manufacturing paradigm. The overall long-term objective of the project is to realize a new manufacturing paradigm, the "post mass production paradigm", that can form a basis of manufacturing industrial products in a sustainable way in the foreseeable future. To reach the overall objective, the project will conduct research on the enabling methods and technologies required for the new paradigm, and on development strategies for reaching the new paradigm. These methods, technologies, and strategies will provide benefits in the short-to-intermediate term in addition to long-term advances. Figure 2 shows the critical parameters in developing a post mass production paradigm which have shaped GNOSIS research activities.

The new paradigm recognizes that all resources are ultimately limited. Therefore, resource use must be reduced and waste generation eliminated throughout the entire product life-cycle. The GNOSIS project hypothesizes that this will require radically new types of products and processes -- soft products and soft factories. Soft products and soft factories are reconfigurable systems designed to be robust to failures and changes in their environment. Their design and production process, from raw materials to products to reuse or disposal, will support sustainable growth and environment-consciousness. Low resource use is achieved by multi-functionality, adaptability, reconfigurability, and reuse.

Soft products and soft factories require communication and knowledge sharing across the boundaries of individual companies, technical domains, and time. To realize this, the knowledge must be systematized to ensure that it is generally available and reusable throughout the life-cycle.

Figure 2 Critical parameters in developing a post mass production paradigm

2.2 Research Streams

In order to progress towards the goals indicated above, work has proceeded within the following research streams:

Systematization of knowledge and supporting information for design and manufacturing: Knowledge systematization methods and tools are investigated and demonstrated to support the activities of the other streams.

Configuration management systems: The focus of the work is the formalization of manufacturing problems and constraints in a distributed environment based on the sharing and reuse of product and manufacturing knowledge.

Configurable production systems: Research will investigate configurable production systems, production control, and factory design principles, with the longer-term goal of enabling soft factories and reuse of production process knowledge.

Soft machinery: Research utilizes the results of the other streams to develop conceptual prototypes of next-generation soft artifacts.

Post mass production paradigm: Research concentrates on the characterization of the post mass production paradigm and its development strategies.

The relationship between the research streams is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 GNOSIS test case relations between work streams

2.3 Work Plan

The research has been divided into work packages within which various tasks have to be carried out, as set out below. MW1 and MW2 are meta-work packages, DW1 is a definition work package, and TW1 to TW5 are technical work packages. Each technical work package (TW) involves defining the research topics, surveying the state of the art, evaluating emerging technologies, carrying out the research and producing deliverables.

2.4 Interaction and Participation

The thirty one partners in GNOSIS participated in different combinations of technical work packages. There was substantial overlap in membership of all packages as shown in Figure 4 which supported the coordination indicated in Figure 3. Overall coordination was through 4 inter-regional meetings, and additional work package coordination through 8 specialist meetings as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 4 GNOSIS test case technical work package participation

Figure 5 GNOSIS test case major meetings

2.5 Project Management

The main features of the project management structure are as illustrated in Figure 6. The Technical Work Packages are directly under the Executive Committee, leading their respective assignments across all regions. This structure was derived from the original proposed management structure, and was found to be the most useful for the effective steering of the consortium.

Figure 6 GNOSIS test case project management

The research has been reported through consortium progress reports to ISC and ITC. These reports form the basis for conference and journal papers which will subsequently be made public. Appraisals of the mechanism for deploying research results and prototypes and for technology transfer have taken place at the regular inter-regional and the executive committee meetings.

2.6 Partners, Regional Coordinators and International Point of Contact

The partners involved in GNOSIS are shown below. There have been no changes during the test case. All 31 of the original partners have been active participants in the work packages on a continuing basis.
Region Regional Coordinator       Partner

Japan  Mitsubishi Electric Corp. +Mitsubishi Electric Corp.
                                  Nissan Motors Ltd
                                  Fuji Xerox Ltd
                                  Kajima Corp.
                                  Shimizu Corp.
                                  The University of Tokyo
                                  Tokyo Institute of Technology
                                  Kyushu Institute of Technology

EC     ADEPA, France              ADEPA Agence de la Productique, France
                                  Télémécanique S.A., France
                                  ARM Conseil, France
                                  IBM, France
                                  ITMI - GROUPE CAP GEMINI SOGETI, France
                                  LLP/CESALP University of Savoie, France
                                  Fraunhofer Institute IPA, Germany
                                  MAN Roland, Germany
                                  Brose, Germany
                                  BICC plc, UK
                                  Cambridge University, UK

EFTA   ABB, Finland               ABB Corporate Research, Finland
                                  Tehdasmallit Oy, Finland
                                  Synergy Center Ltd, Finland
                                  SIMSON Development Program, Finland
                                  VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
                                  Tampere University of Technology, Finland
                                  EPFL Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland
                                  ETHZ Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland

Canada Alberta Research Council   Alberta Research Council
                                  Division of Manufacturing Eng., University of Calgary
                                  Knowledge Science Institute, University of Calgary

USA    Deneb Robotics Inc         Deneb Robotics Inc

+ Mitsubishi Electric Corp. is the International Point of Contact.

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