GNOSIS partners have been aware that the test case is an experiment in the
value of international collaboration in IMS precompetitive research, and the
technical work package activities have focused on satisfying the GNOSIS
objectives through various forms of collaboration. To achieve any meaningful
result, it was necessary to choose a small number of sub-projects, each
exemplifying some form of collaborative activity in knowledge systematization.
Thus, it was agreed to exchange only a few tools and a few problems of the many
available. Individual partners agreed to participate in specific roles in
different collaborative activities, even though their interests in GNOSIS were
far broader. The fact that it was possible to achieve this agreement is itself
a significant result, indicating a spirit of trust and willingness to bring
individual partner objectives into line with those of the project as a whole,
an attitude essential to significant international collaboration.
The GNOSIS test case deliverables encompass a wide range of outcomes of value
to individual partners, to industry in their countries and regions, and to the
international manufacturing community. The main deliverables identified are:-
Following the workplan's guidelines (Section 2.3) each work package developed
its own program, and the overlapping membership provided coordination. TW1 and
TW5, in particular, had specific objectives of integrating the other packages,
in terms of knowledge systematization activities, and post mass production
paradigm issues, respectively. TW1 coordinated a consortium-wide joint
demonstration with work packages TW2, TW3 and TW4. Each work package generated
subtasks that were themselves assigned to collaborative groups of partners,
typically across several regions. Five major types of subtask are apparent:
- Proposal identifying issues to be addressed by the long term IMS research
- Report of the level of success of implemented tools, and potential for
- Completed survey results into the state of the art of specific topics,
e.g., configuration management systems.
- Limited demonstrations of configurable production systems and of
- Reports indicating level of potential improvement in manufacturing
paradigm using systematized knowledge, configuration systems, etc.
- Report on the management organization of the test case, on the benefits of
the feasibility study and on the conditions necessary for achieving success in
such a world-wide cooperative project.
- In addition to the contractual deliverables outlined above, the project
has also created a number of technical reports and papers on the major
technical issues of the project. The research reports and papers written as
part of GNOSIS, which have been approved by the executive committee for public
distribution, will be made available to the general research community, drawing
attention to the research and making clear its direction and achievements.
- Partners have gained experience in the mechanisms and potential problems
of international collaborative research--in particular, the issues of ensuring
a concerted effort towards a specific goal while simultaneously respecting the
various individual research interests of the partners.
- Partners have gained a working knowledge of the issues related to the IPR
- The exchange of researchers enabled partners to learn from the research
methods and practice of other regions, facilitating a common approach to the
goals of the project.
- Early identification of new promising technologies, and promising areas of
research have been made.
- The regular inter-regional meetings have supported technology transfer,
and have helped to build longer term cooperative mechanisms. Working
relationships have been established with various universities and academic
institutes, helping to bridge the gap between industry and academia, and
contributing to the transfer of academic ideas into the market place.
Much more has been achieved than
seemed realistic when GNOSIS commenced, and it is not possible to do more than
highlight some significant results from each form of activity. The results to
date have been documented in a wide range of technical reports that are
available to interested parties.
Each of the Technical Work Packages has undertaken surveys of the state of the
art in one or more significant aspects of their areas of interest. These
surveys are currently in final form and will constitute major deliverables from
GNOSIS to the IMS community.
TW5 used a group elicitation methodology to develop a framework encompassing
all the issues relating to a post mass production paradigm. The six elements
were: boundary conditions; initial conditions; critical drivers;
implementation; expected results; obstacles. Five partners representing a range
of viewpoints and regions then developed their own perspectives on issues
within the framework, and these were consolidated into categories through an
iterative process. The result is a systematization of the major issues of a
post mass production paradigm.
Many tools were shared between individual partners. Two major experiments on
widespread sharing were carried out. One involved the SYSFUND functional design
tools from the University of Tokyo, an example of advanced university research,
and the other the QUEST factory simulation tools from Deneb Robotics, an
example of a leading edge industrial project. Thirteen partners were supplied
with SYSFUND as IMS background technology. Manuals, training (in Tokyo and
on-site), and support through email were provided. Six partners were supplied
with QUEST on a variety of different bases. The timescale of GNOSIS has made
the full investigation and use of these complex tools difficult, but the
preliminary results are very encouraging and results of the use of the tools,
and particularly their integration with other tools, figure prominently in the
individual partner and TW reports. One lesson learned is that the resources
required to effectively use such tools is very high, and it is generally
appropriate to focus on the exchange of a few specific tools.
- A survey of the state of the art in a particular area relevant to that
technical work package. This generally involved the pooling of knowledge from a
large number of partners and its systematization by one partner, or a small
- An exchange and systematization of knowledge and views between partners on
issues relevant to that technical work package. This was the major methodology
of TW5 investigating post mass production paradigms.
- The issue of a tool from one partner to a group of partners to use on a
variety of problems relevant to their interests. This was intended to provide
experience of the utility and problems of technology transfer within an
international collaborative program.
- The issue of a data set from one partner to a group of partners to process
in a variety of ways using their relevant methodologies, techniques and tools.
This was intended to provide a microcosm for knowledge systematization
throughout a product life cycle from needs, through design and manufacturing,
to recycling. This knowledge systematization also has to be applied to the
management activities related to the product. Activities of this nature were
seen as exemplifying the major objectives of a long-term GNOSIS project.
- The issue of a model from one partner to a group of partners to apply to a
variety of problems relevant to their interests. This was intended to provide
experience of the utility and problems of transferring models within an
international collaborative program.
XDSP, a designer's spread sheet from Kyushu Institute of Technology, was
applied to the elevator configuration problem, which is a classic benchmark for
configuration, and was also applied to real construction problems (temporary
platform design and structural design of long-life foundation) by Shimizu.
The first data set was provided by the French company,
Télémécanique, and was the manufacturing information for a
family of contactors. It was initially used by TW2 for research on
configuration management, and it was also adopted in other work packages. The
second data set complemented the first by providing a STEP data set for a
mechanical part from the University of Calgary DME. It was initially developed
in TW3 for research on configurable manufacturing, and was also adopted in
The use of these data sets went across work packages TW1-4, and was summarized
in the report "Main Joint Demonstration of GNOSIS Technical Work Package 1" and
the "TW3 Technical Work Package Report" which are available. There were
additional data sets that were used by individual partners. Activities and
demonstrations based on shared data sets include:
Different models and associated software were exchanged in the area of product
configuration management. They all concern the increasing complexity of
products, the necessity to reduce the time to market and the costs as well as
to improve overall quality.
- Formalization of the test scenario is led and implemented by the
University of Cambridge based on the input from SIMSON/Helsinki University of
Technology, IPA, and Tampere University of Technology. This demonstration
describes the wider company and process context that is the common background
for the whole main joint demonstration.
- The demonstration on integrating conceptual design to part family
description is implemented by the University of Tokyo and SIMSON-HUT. MELCO and
Télémécanique contributed by providing information on the
applied example part, i.e., a contactor. The implementation of the University
of Tokyo presents the stages of the conceptual design and furthermore gives an
example of a functionally redundant contactor. The implementation of HUT
refines the contactor into an assembly and furthermore into an assembly part
family, which is a link to the next demonstration.
- The demonstration of the flow from part design to manufacturing
preparation is implemented by SIMSON/Helsinki University of Technology, IPA,
Brose, and MAN Roland. The University of Calgary contributed by providing an
example part in a standard data format. The example part is not the same
contactor assembly as in the previous stage, but an assumed component of it.
- ABB, Deneb Robotics, Tehdasmallit, and VTT developed a virtual
manufacturing environment for industrial production lines and tested it with
product models and data from ABB for new product introduction and realtime
- Deneb Robotics, Shimizu Corporation, Tehdasmallit, and VTT specified a
virtual construction environment with the data from Shimizu.
- The demonstration of Tampere University of Technology on design of a
product configuration is a separate case that is used for studying knowledge
- ETHZ is developing a product model for configuration management of the
- EPFL developed a constraint satisfaction system for configuration of
products with many variants.
- IBM provided data sets on the evolution of hardware and software products
which were used for the evaluation of existing tools by EPFL.
IPA provided the fractal company concept which concern enterprise organization,
VTT the virtual factory model, and LLP-CESALP, the OLYMPIOS model which
concerns information and decision systems following the "consumer-supplier"
relationship concept and the GENERIS model which provides links between
equipment and organization.
An open-day on GNOSIS activities was held at the inter-regional meeting in
Kyoto on the 12th of November and attended by over 30 industrial
representatives. Partners have similar presentations planned for industry in
their own countries.
Partners who have industry training activities such as VTT, IPA, ADEPA and ARC
will use these activities to disseminate GNOSIS material and results.
The exchange of researchers has also been an important basis for transfer and
dissemination, but due to the short time scale only a few arrangements could be
made. The main exchange was for short periods of SYSFUND training. One
researcher from VTT stayed at Shimizu Corporation for two months to study the
application of the virtual factory in construction. A researcher from Shimizu
Corporation is at VTT for one year in 1994.
It is important to note that we focused on a few activities so as to achieve
some in-depth studies of significance for longer-term planning. For example,
the two widely exchanged tools are representatives of some 30 tools identified
as potentially exchangeable between partners, some of which were exchanged
between individual partners. Similarly, the two data sets exchanged are
representatives of large numbers of industrial data sets that could have been
made available to partners, some of which were exchanged between individual
partners. It was felt in planning GNOSIS tasks that the resources necessary to
effectively accept and use such material were very high, as was the burden of
support upon the supplying partner. This was confirmed in the actual exchanges
that took place. Thus, in planning future projects it is important to take into
account that the dominant factor is not the major potential for technology
transfer and dissemination, but rather the costs of doing this for both donors
The final versions of the overall GNOSIS report, the five technical work
package reports, and a number of specific technical reports on GNOSIS projects
are being issued at the end of the project in February 1994 and distributed to
the IMS community. In addition a number of journal papers, technical magazine
articles are planned. Press releases on the GNOSIS consortium have been issued.