Brainstorming Begins On The `Smart Factory'

Three years ago, Japan's Ministry of International Trade & Industry floated a bold proposal: a worldwide effort to develop technologies for tomorrow's "smart" factories--with MITI footing most of a $1 billion budget. The idea immediately ran into flak. U. S. and European officials feared the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) initiative was a Trojan horse for Japan to gain access to their leading-edge research. So government negotiators began hammering out guidelines to ensure that everyone would share in the benefits, while companies put their heads together to pinpoint specific needs.

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