IMS Promotion Center
Manufacturing Science and Technology Center
11th Floor, Akasaka Twintower Building
2-17-22 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107

Date Visited:

28 May 1997


Mr. Yoshitaka Arakawa, Director, R&D Department
Mr. Nobuo Sasaki, Deputy Director (arranged meeting) Planning & Coordinating Department
Tel: 81 3 5562 0331 (FAX: 81 3 5562 0310)
Others Presents: Mr. Hideyuki Hayashi, Senior Executive Director
Manufacturing Science and Technology Center
7th Floor, Mori Building #9
1-2-2 Atago, Minato-ku
Tokyo 105
Tel: 81 3 5472 2561 (FAX: 81 3 5472 2567)
Dr. Takeshi Kishinami, Professor
Manufacturing Information Engineering
Division of Systems and Information Engineering
Hokkaido University
N-13, W-8, Kita-ku
Sapporo, 060
Tel: 81 22 706 6447 (FAX: 81 11 706 7836)


The Manufacturing Science and Technology Center (MSTC), previously called the International Robotics and Factory Automation Center (IROFA), was established in 1985 under the auspices of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and private companies. Its aim is to promote and coordinate research and development activities on manufacturing technologies including robotics and factory automation through international cooperation. MSTC acts as a center of cooperation among government, industry, university researchers, and other research institutes. MSTC activities include exchange of research personnel, collaborative research, and collection and dissemination of technical information.

In April 1990, IROFA also established the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) program to help develop advanced next-generation manufacturing technologies. MSTC and IMS are staffed with personnel from industry, government, universities and national institutes on temporary or permanent assignments. MSTC has a staff of 28 professionals. It has a governing board of directors drawn from Japanese companies. MSTC's objective is to promote R&D activities in basic technologies for manufacturing, including robotics and factory automation, and to promote international cooperation in that arena. MSTC is engaged in the following activities:

  1. International Cooperation: Worldwide cooperative R&D activities are carried out to further development of robotics and factory automation.

  2. Research and Development in Fundamental Technologies

  3. Research Activities for Standardization: Research is being performed to define policies for standardization.

  4. Technical Surveys: Surveys are taken in Japan and abroad to acquire information concerning manufacturing including robotics and factory automation technologies. The surveys cover:

  5. Technical Training: MSTC offers technical training courses at various localities for robotics and factory automation engineers/technicians to improve their knowledge and skills, and also to help promote the relevant technologies. Subjects include:

  6. Public Relations

  7. Special Activities by Contract


In order to improve manufacturing competitiveness in advanced industrialized countries, the Japanese proposed the Joint International Research and Development Program into Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) Program. Its objective was to develop next-generation manufacturing systems jointly among partners from Japan, Australia, Canada, the European Union (EU), Norway, Switzerland and the United States. It encompasses the systematization of all the knowledge accumulated in manufacturing industries and the establishment of advanced manufacturing systems capable of flexibly integrating the whole range of corporate activities, from order-booking through design, production and marketing. At the same time, the program has the objective of maintaining a desirable relationship between people and machines, preserving and improving the vitality of manufacturing industry.

IMS addresses a common set of issues due to the rapid changes manufacturing industries are facing:

  1. Globalization. Globalization of manufacturing industries is progressing as action is taken to locate production in or adjacent to markets, reduce risks arising from fluctuations in exchange rates, and ameliorate trade imbalances.

  2. The changing labor environment. Manufacturing industry is afflicted by an increasing shortage of technicians, and a growing preference of young engineers to pursue other career paths.

  3. The changing market environment. The proliferation of lifestyles in economically advanced societies is inimical to broad, uniform markets. Consumer demands are becoming increasingly diversified and sophisticated.

  4. Environmental issues. The mounting concern about environmental degradation requires manufacturing industry to place environmental considerations at the heart of its activities.

  5. The spiraling cost of R&D. The sound development of manufacturing industry requires increasingly large-scale and complex R&D projects. In many instances, it is not feasible for a single enterprise to tackle such projects. Duplication of such projects represents an unacceptable waste of resources. The only solution to this impasse is increased international collaboration among companies, public sector research institutions and academia.

The Scope of the Program

The IMS program comprises the following topics:

  1. Academic integration and systemization of the existing manufacturing technologies to enhance their compatibility and to facilitate their transfer and diffusion.

  2. Supporting the international efforts for the standardization of the present and next-generation manufacturing technologies.

  3. Research and development into 21st century-oriented, advanced manufacturing technologies by integrating the respective technical strengths and research expertise in Japan, Australia, Canada, the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the United States.

  4. Public relations to enhance the spread of general information on the IMS program.

Time Frame and Funding

The program's time frame will be approximately ten years, while individual projects will be between 3 to 5 years. The total amount of funding will be about ¥15 billion over the ten-year period. Funds are available for projects through the following sources: public subsidies (to cover 50% of the cost of each project), through membership fees, and special contributions (part of the cost of a project is borne by its participant members).


The IMS Promotion Center has a three level membership program:

  1. Core members - legal entities or corporations established in accordance with the commercial laws of Japan

  2. Support members - similar entities as above that wish to support the program but do not intend to take part in projects or studies

  3. Academic members - individuals from academic institutions including universities and public research institutes who wish to participate in programs


To foster factory automation or to implement computer integrated manufacturing (CIM), it is indispensable to adopt a factory local area network (LAN) system. MAP is an international standard for factory LANs to facilitate the interconnection between various factory automation equipment and devices from various vendors. It is becoming increasingly important in factory automation.

Published: September 1998; WTEC Hyper-Librarian