Rapidly evolving information technology, especially World Wide Web (WWW), brought many innovative changes to people's lives and businesses. Information technology not only influences people's daily lives and business but also impacts on manufacturing. As computers become powerful and affordable, factories introduced computers to their shop floor to integrate manufacturing since 1980's. Because manufacturing industries tend to acquire world-wide manufacturing facilities, it got difficult to set up, control, maintain, and optimize to facilitate manufacturing resources on global sites. However, little work has been done in the area of global manufacturing until recently. A Web-Based Machine Control System (WMCS), which controls remote manufacturing resources using a general-purpose web browser has been implemented at Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) laboratory of Northeastern University. This research presents a framework and Java implementation of WMCS for Manufacturing. The general-purpose web browser has been used as a front-end interface to interact with WMCS through HTTP (Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol) protocol.
This paper looks at the advantages of using the Internet, as the basis for the implementation of low-cost condition monitoring systems, in the manufacturing industry. A model based condition monitoring system, is presented where a number of machining stations dispersed at different physical locations can be inspected via Internet access and the signals from the process analyzed in a dedicated condition monitoring center. Incentive for the new approach to the system health monitoring, logging and surveillance are presented. These extend into advantages of using model-based techniques and the need for an appropriate mathematical model of the machine tool. Finally, the data acquisition and communication system to be used in this application for Internet access will be explained.
Today's competitive enterprises need to design, develop, and manufacture their products rapidly and inexpensively. Agile manufacturing has emerged as a new paradigm to meet these challenges. Agility requires, among many other things, scheduling and control software systems that are flexible, robust, and adaptive. In this paper a new agent-based scheduling system (ABBS) is developed to meet the challenges of an agile manufacturing system. In ABSS, unlike in the traditional approaches, information and decision making capabilities are distributed among the system entities called agents. In contrast with the most agent-based scheduling systems which commonly use a bidding approach, the ABBS employs a global performance monitoring strategy. A production-rate-based global performance metric which effectively assesses the system performance is developed to assist the agents' decision making process. To test the architecture, an agent-based discrete event simulation software is developed. The experiments performed using the simulation software yielded encouraging results in supporting the applicability of agent-based systems to address the scheduling and control needs of an agile manufacturing system.
For effective coordination of distributed environments involving multiagent systems, learning ability of each agent in the environment plays a crucial role. In this paper, we develop a simple group learning method based on reinforcement, and study its effect on coordination through application to a supply chain procurement scenario involving a computer manufacturer. Here, all parties are represented by self-interested, autonomous agents, each capable of performing specific simple tasks. They negotiate with each other to perform complex tasks and thus coordinate supply chain procurement. Reinforcement learning is intended to enable each agent to reach a best negotiable price within a shortest possible time. Our simulations of the application scenario under different learning strategies reveals the positive effects of reinforcement learning on an agent's as well as the system's performance.
The task of building a multiagent system using traditional software tools is a complex and error-prone process. Therefore, we have developed an agent infrastructure called Cybele and a verification tool called DIVA for building agent based systems suited for large distributed applications. These tools enforce simple coding practice and facilitate generation of complex systems. These tools in the context of factory scheduling will allow the agent designers to design and assign roles to the problem-solving entities, design and verify interaction protocols, and subsequently use the distributed system either as a simulation or as a control and execution system. In this paper, we discuss how Cybele and DIVA can be used in designing a system that solves dynamic scheduling problems in real-time.
The development of distributed, agent-based, web-oriented, N-tier Information Systems (IS) must be supported by a design methodology capable of responding to the convergence of shifts in business process design, organizational structure, computing, and telecommunications infrastructures. We introduce a contingency theoretic model for the use of open, ubiquitous software infrastructure in the design of flexible organizational IS. Our basic premise is that developers should change in the way they view the software design process from a view toward the solution of a problem to one of the dynamic creation of teams of software components. We postulate that developing effective, efficient, flexible, component-based distributed software requires reconceptualizing the current development model. The basic concepts of distributed software design are merged with the environment-causes-structure relationship from contingency theory; the task-uncertainty of organizational- information-processing relationships from information processing theory; and the concept of inter-process dependencies from coordination theory. Software processes are considered as employees, groups of processes as software teams, and distributed systems as software organizations. Design techniques already used in the design of flexible business processes and well researched in the domain of the organizational sciences are presented. Guidelines that can be utilized in the creation of component-based distributed software will be discussed.
Due to the widespread availability of the Internet large scale distributed projects in manufacturing are becoming popular. We present a distributed, collaborative, and adaptive control approach for distributed multiple product development projects (DMPDP), which is a representative project environment in modern e-enterprises. In DMPDP environment, multiple project groups share and compete for limited resources to achieve their own goals. On the other hand, the shared resource divisions try to utilize their resources efficiently. We suggest that this kind of situation can be well modeled and efficiently solved by using two novel approaches: multiagent based information infrastructure and market-based control mechanism. In this paper, we formalize the DMPDP control problem, and propose a market-based negotiation mechanism called sequential market clearing (SMC) protocol. For clear presentation, some of information system design and implementation issues are also presented.
Today's dynamic manufacturing environment demands the information models that CIM applications rely on to be robust to frequent changes, including the acquisition and dismissal of manufacturing resources. The object-oriented paradigm, which models the real world in terms of objects, is ideal for a manufacturing resource model due to its properties of modularity and encapsulation. In this report, a methodology is proposed for the systematic creations of an object-oriented resource model. A prototype information model representing the manufacturing environment is presented and mapped into a relational database for data storage, and an application is shown for the manipulation of a modular resource model database. The functionality of this application is demonstrated with an interface to an ARENA simulation model. The potential for this model to interact with other CIM applications, including process planning, production planning, CAD, and SFCS is discussed. This pioneers the new areas of e-simulation to rapidly configurable manufacturing facilities to ensure the anticipated performance.
This paper presents some results of our recent research work related to the development of a new Collaborative Agent System Architecture (CASA) and an Infrastructure for Collaborative Agent Systems (ICAS). Initially being proposed as a general architecture for Internet based collaborative agent systems (particularly complex industrial collaborative agent systems), the proposed architecture is very suitable for managing the Internet enabled complex supply chain for a large manufacturing enterprise. The general collaborative agent system architecture with the basic communication and cooperation services, domain independent components, prototypes and mechanisms are described. Benefits of implementing Internet enabled supply chains with the proposed infrastructure are discussed. A case study on Internet enabled supply chain management is presented.
In this paper, a complete concept for Internet Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) - a well-known buzzword in the area of logistics and supply chain management to enable the automation of the interactions between companies and their partners - using XML (eXtensible Markup Language) will be proposed. This approach is based on Internet and XML, because the implementation of traditional EDI (e.g. EDIFACT, ANSI X.12) is mostly too costly for small and medium sized enterprises, which want to integrate their suppliers and customers in a supply chain. The paper will also present the results of the implementation of a prototype for such a system, which has been developed for an industrial partner to improve the current situation of parts delivery. The main functions of this system are an early warning system to detect problems during the parts delivery process as early as possible, and a transport following system to pursue the transportation.
The complexities of product engineering frequently require teams of agents, both human and digital, working together to take a product through its life-cycle. Increasingly, manufacturers, designers and project planners belong to different design teams, in different corporate organizations in a supply network, separated by large geographic distances. This paper describes the software architecture of the Collaborative Design Studio environment we are developing to support Networked Engineering. We provide the framework enabling communications exchanged during design and manufacturing activities to be annotated with design context information and archived for future reference. We present an XML-based message model to encapsulate relationships between design context and designers' communications. As a proof-of-concept, are creating a Networked Engineering Environment with integrated email, instant messaging, collaborative work, text-editing and CAD/CAM packages.
Person-to-person communication over the Internet has exploded in recent years. In contrast, person-to-business and business-to-business communication using the Web are just beginning to take off, in part due to technological challenges that are just now being met. For example: the ability of large, automated businesses to communicate with smaller, less automated partners who don't have integrated back-end office systems or tightly coupled data channels; the ability of smaller, less automated businesses to communicate with each other; the ability of field personnel to mine enterprise data; the ability of companies to send up-to-the-minute data to field personnel. A speech interface to the Web can surmount these problems and more. Our solution provides a VoiceXML interface to static and dynamic information in existing enterprise databases that are, or can be made, available through a Web interface. VoiceXML (Voice eXtensible Markup Language), is an XML-based markup language for creating distributed speech applications, much as HTML is a markup language for creating distributed visual applications. Using VoiceXML, data can be accessed over the Web by telephone.
The potential of agent-based systems has not been realized yet, in part, because of the lack of understanding of how the agent technology supports industrial needs and emerging standards. The area of business-to-business electronic commerce (b2b e-commerce) is one of the most rapidly developing sectors of industry with huge impact on manufacturing practices. In this paper, we investigate the current state of agent technology and the feasibility of applying agent-based computing to b2b e-commerce in the circuit board manufacturing sector. We identify critical tasks and opportunities in the b2b e-commerce area where agent-based services can best be deployed. We describe an implemented agent-based prototype system to facilitate the bidding process for printed circuit board manufacturing and assembly. These activities are taking place within the Internet Commerce for Manufacturing (ICM) project, the NIST- sponsored project working with industry to create an environment where small manufacturers of mechanical and electronic components may participate competitively in virtual enterprises that manufacture printed circuit assemblies.