Special Issue on Intelligent Manufacturing Systems
Production engineering and manufacturing industries face difficulties in developing a new paradigm to cope with the post mass-production era. Consumers’ preferences change very quickly and vary over a wide range of taste. A product’s life cycle becomes shorter than shorter. Thus, rapid prototyping techniques have been requested, and some new concepts on manufacturing have been presented including Flexible Manufacturing System, Factory (or Flexible) Automation, Computer Integrated Manufacturing System, and Concurrent Engineering. After the termination of the cold war, many regional economies combined through international trade and dynamically evolved into global economies. Such change had significant effects on manufacturing industries and consequently on production engineering. As a new paradigm in the post mass-production era, the creation of manufacturing culture has been advocated by Prof. Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, President of University of Tokyo. It contains not only the movement towards standardization of conventional manufacturing knowledge but also the development of a global manufacturing system with use of computerization. At his advocation, the international research project of Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) was initiated. This bimonthly journal is a special issue on the IMS project and similar topics widely covering intelligent manufacturing systems. The former part of the contents is the description of the IMS project. It consists of the commentary articles quoted from the IMS news and the latest reports of IMS international test cases. The Japan IMS center publishes the IMS news and strongly supports the IMS project itself with collaboration of Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Japan (MITI). The authors of these reports are primarily enrolled in the actual responsibility to promote their projects and newly write the articles for this journal. I would like to thank the IMS center and each author for their contributions to this special issue on the IMS project. The latter part of the contents consists of the articles on the STandard for the Exchange of Product model data (STEP) and some technical papers on manufacturing. A conference report on the 2nd Japan-France Congress on Mechatronics is also provided in this issue. I would like to thank all contributors for their cooperation in creating this special issue. As can be easily seen, this issue focused on the forthcoming advancement on production engineering and manufacturing through the movement of Intelligent Manufacturing Systems. As the editor of this special issue on Intelligent Manufacturing Systems, I hope that the readers pay attention to this new movement and become involved in the near future.