Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS)

This archive holds material on the international Intelligence Manufacturing Systems research program.

The Origins of an International IMS Research Program

In October, 1989, an Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) international collaborative program was initially proposed by Japanese experts both from industry and academia.

After extensive international discussions in 1990, it was agreed to undertake a feasibility study aimed at developing and testing a framework for international collaboration and, more importantly, at proving whether a collaborative program in this area could be created and structured equitably and beneficially. It was expected that the results and experiences gained in the feasibility study would enable a decision on whether to establish a long-term program.

The feasibility study was planned to consist of two parts. The first was aimed at developing a structure for the program, including such issues as modalities of international collaboration, funding arrangements and provisions on intellectual property rights for international collaboration, technical themes for the program and criteria for approving projects. The second involved conduct of test cases to establish procedures for a future program. This covered cooperation methods, contribution and funding, technical themes, and provisions on intellectual property rights.

Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference were adopted in September 1991. In December 1991 a meeting of the secretariats was held to plan the implementation of the IMS feasibility study. The prime proposal in the Terms of Reference was that a feasibility study should be undertaken by the six Participants: Australia, Canada, the European Community (EC), the five participating EFTA countries (Austria, Finland, Norway, Switzerland and Sweden), Japan, and the USA.

The Terms of Reference proposed that the feasibility study should be carried out through three committees: the International Steering Committee (ISC), the Intellectual Property Rights Committee (IPRC) and the International Technical Committee (ITC). In addition, the Terms of Reference identified government agencies in each region which would act as regional secretariats.

The ISC held its initial meeting in Toronto, Canada in February 1992. This meeting agreed to proceed with the feasibility study and approved workplans for all three International Committees from that date through January 1994.

Technical Themes for Feasibility Study

Technical considerations were based on the broad principles set out in the Terms of Reference. Guidelines adopted at the second meeting of the ISC contained four specific principles. These were: In order to assist and encourage applicants in putting forward proposals, the ITC identified, at its first meeting, six general areas which were designated as technical themes. These themes included:

Test Cases for Feasibility Study

After a detailed process of assessment, five proposals were selected as test cases for the feasibility program. One proposal (TC2 below) was accepted as a study project but is referred to here for convenience as a test case. Details of the work carried out in each case is contained in the reports of the International Technical Committee.

The titles of the six test cases are:


The test cases commenced in the first quarter of 1993 and were completed in the first quarter of 1994. The IMS Committees for the feasibility study also completed their reports early in 1994 and the final drafts were released in mid-1994. There was a unanimous recommendation that the long-term IMS research program be undertaken, and a detailed technical, legal and administrative framework has been specified.

The following reports are available on-line:

Final Report of the International Steering Committee, January 1994

This provides a report on the IMS activities to date and detailed recommendations for the future. It is available as a multi-part document through the web as Web Report, and as a single document in Adobe PostScript and Microsoft RTF.

Keynote Addresses from Dallas IMS Symposium, July 1994

An open symposium on the IMS program was held in Dallas in July, 1994. Two of the keynote addresses were given by officials of the US Department of Commerce, and are useful indications of US policy towards the IMS program. David Barram's presentation is available through the web as Web Report, and as a document in Adobe PostScript and Microsoft RTF. Mary Good's presentation is available through the web as Web Report, and as a document in Adobe PostScript and Microsoft RTF.

GNOSIS Test Case Reports

The GNOSIS Test Case 7 reports are available:-

Final Report of IMS Test Case 7: GNOSIS

Further Links

The Knowledge Science Institute is monitoring the IMS program and will be making other material on IMS available through its archives as the program progresses. It will archive other materials sent to it, and link to other IMS information on the Web. Please contact Brian Gaines ( if you have material or links appropriate to this archive.

IMS International Secretariat

Information on Ongoing IMS Program

Information on Australian, Canadian, Japanese, and USA participation.

Sandia National Labs

Information on Agile and Advanced Manufacturing

Asia Pacific Technology Program

Information on US-Japan Manufacturing Technology Fellowship Program

Coalition for Intelligent Manufacturing Systems, Stanford University

Information on intelligent manufacturing systems activities

Tomiyama Laboratory, University of Tokyo

Information on functional design and soft machinery

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