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The system developed can interface a central mini-computer to an established medium-size machine shop including a range of NC and CNC machine tools. The system distributes NC part program data as well as job planning and tooling data, eliminating many of the disadvantages associated with the use of paper tape, and enhancing machine tool utilization and thus return on capital investment. The system incorporates real-time machine-shop monitoring with an integrated communications and information network, which can encompass a multiplicity of departments within an organization, and as such is best described as a Factory Information System (FIS). The benefits include increased management control and the basis for a further development to a full flexible manufacturing system (FMS). The design of interface units and the structure of the software required to drive such a system are proposed.