The Factory of the Future has been described as an essentially peopleless paperless organization capable of producing a wide variety of parts on demand with minimal in-process inventory. To accomplish this, an intelligent factory will require self-diagnosis and self-correction, dynamic planning and scheduling, and self-simulation to answer what-if questions. Inherent in all these capabilities is the need for real-time input from many on-line sensors to denote the status of a particular product, process machine, or part-transfer mechanism. The sensor technology needed to supply all the necessary information and the computer system demands for handling this information far exceed current capabilities, and both are the subject of intense research and development.

© 1984 Optical Society of America

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