The official website of Osaka Prefecture University
January 2011 Features "R & D"
Nobuhiro Sugimura, Professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering was among the members of the Holonic Manufacturing System (HMS) Project, which was part of an international collaborative research and development program called The Intelligent Manufacturing System (IMS) Project.
The project launched in 1995 by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, aimed at the advancement of manufacturing and processing technologies. The project team including researchers from Japan, the U.S.A., Australia and E.U. countries successfully completed its mission to finish the prototype in 2004, and the research was taken to the next level in each country.
A "Holon" is an individual autonomous unit such as a plant, a department, a human being, or a machine. HMS consists of autonomous units that cooperate with one another to perform proficiently whole manufacturing processes.
"HMS enables flexible manufacturing control to meet increasingly diverse demands in the market such as product and volume changes. This system will best fit with short product life cycles and high-mix low-volume production," says Professor Sugimura.
In the course of the HMS study in his laboratory, "the cooperation between human beings and intelligent machines" and "the collaboration among companies and plants" emerged as important key factors to realizing an ideal manufacturing system.
"There is a certain kind of manufacturing process only human beings can handle. That’s why we are tackling the establishment of digital human modeling in order to design an effective manufacturing environment."
Effective and efficient coordination among "holons" will be essential to further advance HMS and harness its benefits.