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This paper is divided into two main parts. The first is concerned with definitions of concepts and terms of importance to the architect of integrated manufacturing systems. It describes the operational environment, how the manufacturing systems are going to be used, and a variety of system requirements. Priorities are established and a set of guiding principles for system design are proposed. In the second part, three basic system structures are analyzed and evaluated in terms of the previously stated priorities and guiding principles. The relation of integrated manufacturing systems to other complex systems is shown to illustrate how generally applicable many of the findings derived from knowledge of the manufacturing environment are to the design of systems for other application fields. The paper concludes by restating the key requirements and formulates what appears to be the greatest challenge for the system architect. That is, the creation of an architectural framework within which the system designers can structure manufacturing systems capable of handling besides the planned tasks a variety of unforeseen applications. Readers familiar with the plant environment and the terms and concepts associated with it may skip the first sections and start with System Requirements. We would, however, advise even the experienced reader to review the definition of real-time systems, which we believe is new.
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