This Guide is the first produced by The Integrated Manufacturing Systems Working Party of the Institution of Production Engineers. In considering the wide range of issues which arise for any Manufacturing company embarking on the integration of manufacturing systems, the Working Party decided to take a staged approach and this guide represents the first of several on topics relating to Integrated Manufacturing Systems. Three such topics that arose immediately were: * A Strategic Approach * The Organisational Implications * Hardware and Software Communications In this Guide we have concentrated on the first of these and tried to encapsulate all the major points which a senior executive should consider when developing a Strategy for Integrated Manufacturing Systems (IMS). Note that this is not a 'Manufacturing Strateg' - that is dealt with in another Institution guide. Here we are concentrating on the strategic considerations raised by integration. Integration brings dramatic performance improvements and the system element - IMS - is one of the powerful ingredients which can help to bring about such a change. Every manufacturing business must now decide if, and when, to go for IMS.
Some would say that the 'if' is not in question and that IMS will soon become a mandatory tool because all global competitors will have it. This Guide cannot answer the 'if' and 'when' directly but it aims to make you aware of the high-level issues involved in making IMS work.