Site: IMS Promotion Center
11th Fl., Akasaka Twintower Bldg.
2-17-22 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tokyo 107, Japan
Tel: (03) 55620331; Fax: (03) 55620310

Date Visited: 15 December 1995

JTEC/WTEC Attendees: M. Wozny, E. Sachs (report coauthors), C. Atwood, R. Aubin


Yoshitaka Arakawa

Dr. Takeshi Kurimoto

Hideyuki Hayashi

Takayoshi Ozaki


The Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) program is based on a theory developed by University of Tokyo President Yoshikawa, in which a cycle develops as shown in Figure IMS.1.

Fig. IMS.1. Theory behind IMS.

The idea behind post-competitive technology is that at some point a technology no longer plays a role in competitive capability. Further, expertise can be lost over time. Hence, the idea is to codify knowledge and in the process identify missing elements that can lead to new basic R&D.

The IMS program, proposed by Japan in 1989, evolved after much debate into an international secretariat coordinating the activities of six regional secretariats: Australia, Canada, the European Community (EC), five European Free-Trade Association (EFTA) countries, Japan, and the United States.

IMS is a program for international cooperation in advanced manufacturing. It is a catalytic agent for global cooperation, addressing not only advancement of the state of the art in manufacturing, but also of existing levels of technology in many companies, including small to medium enterprises (SMEs). IMS provides a vision and structure for worldwide sharing of manufacturing technology development, including costs, risks, and benefits, in a balanced and equitable manner. The 10-year program responds to common problems in the manufacturing sector of industrialized nations: greater sophistication in manufacturing operations; improved global environment; enhancement of the discipline of manufacturing; and an opportunity for organizations of all sizes to respond to the globalization of manufacturing, thus facilitating the process of standardization.

The guiding principles of IMS are as follows:


Established in April 1990 as an adjunct to the International Robotics and Factory Automation Center (IROFA), Japan's IMS Promotion Center promotes the IMS program by acting as the core organization for cooperation among industry, academia, and government in the following functions:

The Japanese rationale for the program is the following: The sound development of the manufacturing industry is indispensable to the strengthening of the foundations of economic growth. The manufacturing industry operates in a global environment, which is being transformed by rapid and drastic change.

Table IMS.1 summarizes the issues addressed by the IMS program.

Table IMS.1
Common Issues Addressed by the IMS Program


The Japan IMS Promotion Center as of July 10, 1995, had 65 industrial core members and 16 industrial support members whose rights are defined in Table IMS.2.

Table IMS.2
IMS Membership Privileges, by Category of Member

Core members pay an annual fee of $120,000 (¥12 million) for supporting the operation of the IMS center and for funding R&D. In addition, there is a fee of $10K for special programs. MITI matches, one for one, both the R&D and the special program industrial fee contributions, as Figure IMS.2 shows.

Fig. IMS.2. MITI and industrial contributions to IMS.

Small companies pay half the fee charged large companies. Five of the 65 core members are small companies. The IMS Center's total annual R&D budget from all sources was ~$20 million (¥2 billion) at the time of the JTEC/WTEC visit.

Takayoshi Ozaki, who is responsible for small business development at MITI and funded Japan Association of Rapid Prototyping Industries (JARI), also has the responsibility for IMS.


The IMS Domestic Feasibility Study Projects for 1995 are listed below. The goal of these projects is to prepare for the international IMS projects. The consortia involved in each project must have at least two core members and one academic member. Only core members can be prime contractors. Twenty-seven distinct academic members (universities and government research labs) are involved in these projects.

These projects will continue as long as necessary (say, 3 or 4 years), with an annual review (submission of a proposal for the next year's work). The idea is to migrate the domestic projects into international projects. At this stage, no new domestic projects will be started. The general theme is that large companies set the vision and the SMEs carry it out.

IMS Domestic Feasibility Study Projects for 1995

9501Intelligent Modules for Assembly Systems
9502Intelligent Information Architecture & Processing Technologies for Next-Generation Manufacturing Systems: Autonomous Distributed Manufacturing Systems and Biological Manufacturing Systems
9503Resource-Efficient Production Processes Utilizing a Concurrent Recipe Engineering Methodology
9504Systematization of Skill-based Knowledge and Development of Next-Generation Technology for Precision Polishing
9505Organizational Aspects of Human-Machine Coexisting Systems
9506Sensor-Fused Intelligent Control Systems for Optimizing Machining Processes
9507Enterprise Integration for Global Manufacturing Towards the 21st Century
9508Soil Decontamination Technology
9509Fundamental Technologies for Integrated CAE Systems for Forming Simulation
9510Integrated Environment for Evaluation of Manufacturing
9511Multifunctional Machining System Technology for Agile Manufacturing
9512New Technologies for Autonomous Machining Cells
9513Knowledge-Base Kernel and Tool Set for Intelligent Assembly/Disassembly Systems
9514Innovative and Intelligent Field Factory
9516New Technology to Minimize Environmental Hazards from Chemical Metalizing Processes
9517Knowledge Systematization: Configuration Systems for Design and Manufacturing
9518Metamorphic Material Handling Systems
9519AI - Applied Sensory Inspection Systems
9520Holonic Manufacturing Systems: System Components of Autonomous Modules and their Distributed Control
9521Systematization of Quality Engineering and Development of Software for its Application

These 20 projects fall into the three non-secret categories of Yoshikawa's categorization of the evolution of technical knowledge, shown earlier in Figure IMS.1.

When specific islands of technological knowledge achieve widespread use and are thoroughly understood, this knowledge should be codified or systematized to reveal missing elements that can lead to new basic research. There is also a danger that this knowledge ultimately may be lost. This is especially true at interfaces between disciplines. At least one domestic IMS project (9517) falls into this category.


Four of Japan's domestic projects, representing more than 40% of the ¥2 billion (~$20 million) domestic R&D budget, are now part of international IMS projects endorsed by the international IMS committee, as shown in Table IMS.3.

Table IMS.3
International IMS Projects

Two additional projects have been given domestic approval, the first step toward becoming international projects.


None of the domestic projects listed above deal directly with rapid prototyping.

Prof. Nakagawa's participation in two domestic projects (9504, 9509) deal with other technical topics. No rapid prototyping companies appear to be involved in the domestic IMS program, although reference was made to CMET's involvement in project 9517. (However, CMET is not listed as a member of IMS.)

On the other hand, an international rapid prototyping project proposal is being jointly developed by four international regions and will soon be submitted to the international secretariat for endorsement. This proposal -- which builds on the successful rapid prototyping test case #6 project accomplished during the IMS feasibility study during 1993 -- includes the regions of Australia, Canada, the United States, and the European Community to varying degrees of industrial involvement. Although Japan plans to participate through Yamata from Japan Honeywell, Japan has not taken a strong position in this effort thus far.

Ozaki stated that it was very difficult to form programs on rapid prototyping under the present IMS scheme because of the lack of U.S. funding.


The regional members of the international IMS program have developed a Terms of Reference agreement, which at the time of the JTEC/WTEC visit had been ratified by five of the six regions. This document includes a generic IP agreement. Each region has interpreted these IP conditions for its own purposes.

Our discussion focused on the nature of sharing IP, especially the third party license agreements popular in American universities (see Fig. IMS.3)

The standard IP agreement recognizes both FOREGROUND and BACKGROUND intellectual property. The following definitions are relevant to this discussion:

PARTNER: Any legal or natural person participating as contracting party to the COOPERATION AGREEMENT for a given PROJECT.

AFFILIATE: Any legal entity directly or indirectly owned or controlled by, or owning or controlling, or under the same ownership or control as, any PARTNER. Common

Fig. IMS.3. Foreground IPR is useful to U.S. universities if they can combine it with their own Background IPR and license it to third parties.

ownership or control through government does not in itself create AFFILIATE status. The definition then deals with the various ownership and control ramifications in a situation where a parent company owns more than 50% of the stock of an affiliate.

FOREGROUND: All information and INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS first created, conceived, invented, or developed in the course of work in a PROJECT.

BACKGROUND: All information and INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS except BACKGROUND RIGHTS owned or controlled by a PARTNER or its AFFILIATES and which are not FOREGROUND.

BACKGROUND RIGHTS: Patents for inventions and design and utility models, and applications therefore as soon as made public, owned or controlled by a PARTNER or its AFFILIATES, a license for which is necessary for the work in a PROJECT or for the commercial exploitation of FOREGROUND, and which are not FOREGROUND.

NON-PROFIT INSTITUTIONS: Any legal entity, either public or private, established or organized for purposes other than profit-making, which does not itself commercially exploit FOREGROUND.

The standard provision allows all PARTNERS and AFFILIATES the use of FOREGROUND on a royalty free basis. Note that FOREGROUND is owned by the inventing party. The following significant issue stems from the standard agreement:

1. According to the agreement, PARTNERS and AFFILIATES must grant to other PARTNERS and their AFFILIATES a license to BACKGROUND RIGHTS on normal commercial conditions when such license is necessary for the commercial exploitation of FOREGROUND. (Exceptions must be negotiated in the Cooperative Agreement governing the Consortium.)

2. FOREGROUND is not automatically extended to third party licensees (non-IMS companies) of PARTNERS. Thus, if a university participates, its third party licensees are not guaranteed access to the IP developed by other members of the IMS Consortium.

These and other issues must be addressed by negotiation of the specific Cooperative Agreement.


The Japanese expect that the European Community will ratify and fund the IMS program via ESPRIT. The Japanese also felt that National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the Department of Commerce might ultimately fund the U.S. IMS program. A long discussion ensued, led by Mike Wozny, on the structure of NIST, showing that such funding was highly unlikely.

The discussion then focused on the deficit spending bills being floated to support technology development for ending Japan's recession. There are major programs for basic computer science, for CALS (i.e., information technology for the manufacturing industry), and for the semiconductor industry. Both these programs were funded in 1995 at $100 million by the Japanese government through a bond issue, in addition to a small amount of funding raised to augment the program on micromachines.

The response to the question, "Why not also support the machine tool industry?" was the following: The semiconductor industry is moving very rapidly. The next generation is very important. The goals are clear: move beyond 8 in. wafers to larger wafers and look at chemichanical polishing and multilayer metalization using chemical vapor deposition. In machine tools, the next generation is not clear. Lower cost and open systems are certainly desirable, but it is more difficult to define precompetitive R&D.

Ozaki also mentioned that they have a 10-year, $25 million/year program on micromachines, and that for 1995, they had added another $10 million to it.

Published: September 1996; WTEC Hyper-Librarian