Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

The Virtual Manufacturing Cell



Charles R. McLean, Howard Bloom, Ted Hopp


A virtual manufacturing cell is being developed at the National Bureau of Standards as part of the control software for the Automated Manufacturing Research Facility (AMRF) project. The traditional group technology (GT) cell has evolved from the need to maintain the flexibility to manufacture a family of parts while gaining some of the efficiency associated with a single process flow line. GT cells are normally defined by a fixed physical grouping of machining workstations that produce a particular class of parts. A shop based upon virtual manufacturing cells provides greater flexibility than existing GT shop configurations by time sharing machining workstations. Virtual GT cells are not identifiable as fixed physical grouping of machining, but as data files and processes in a control computer. Functions performed by these processes include analysis, reporting, routing, scheduling, dispatching, and monitoring. At a higher level, the shop control system schedules cell activation and allocates workstations and other resources to these cells. Workstations are at all times under the control of either a particular virtual cell or a pool cell composed of idle workstations.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the IFAC/IFIP Conference on Information Control Problems in Manufacturing Technology
Conference Dates
October 26-28, 1982
Conference Location
Gaithersburg, MD, USA


AMRF, group technology, GT, manufacturing, virtual manufacturing cell


McLean, C. , Bloom, H. and Hopp, T. (1982), The Virtual Manufacturing Cell, Proceedings of the IFAC/IFIP Conference on Information Control Problems in Manufacturing Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, USA, [online], (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created September 30, 1982, Updated October 12, 2021