As the ratio of transport costs to total product cost increases, manufacturers try to fulfil the demands of each geographical region with products manufactured within the same region. Since the manufacturing resources available at each venue can be varied, it is necessary to adapt the manufacturing process plan for each production facility. Traditionally, this process is carried out manually by engineers utilizing computer-aided design (CAD) files. With the advances in artificial intelligence technology and emergence of integration standards such as STEP, it is now possible to automate the CAD/computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)/computer numerical control (CNC) interface. Distributed artificial intelligence techniques and mobile agents in particular can be used to transfer information throughout the manufacturing network and construct the distributed knowledge-base required for the intelligent interoperable integration of product data models and manufacturing resources. This paper explores the application of mobile agents as enablers of interoperability in a global manufacturing enterprise. A novel manufacturing chain based on the STEP-NC standard is proposed and the application of agents for transfer of manufacturing information is studied. The research is demonstrated through the use of a prototype manufacturing decision support system developed using agents.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing systems
- Computer numerical control (CNC)
- Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)
- Mobile agent systems