Sivaram Balasubramanian and Douglas H. Norrie
A multi-agent architecture has been developed for the integration of design, manufacturing, and shop floor control activities. This is based on cooperating intelligent entities in the sub-domains which make decisions through negotiation, using domain-specific knowledge both distributed among the entities and accessible to them. Using this architectural framework, an agent based concurrent design environment system has been developed for feature-based design, manufacturability evaluation, and dynamic process planning. This is a multi-agent prototype system involving the following types of agent: design agent; geometric interface agent; feature agent; part agent; machine agent; tool agent; environment manager; and shop floor manager. A new technique for evaluating manufacturability is introduced, based on interacting intelligent features of the part being designed. This proof-of-concept system was developed for three-dimensional prismatic parts, with twenty-five different feature types, but can be extended to other geometries. The system has been completed and tested, and is being integrated into a larger multi-agent environment incorporating routing, scheduling, and overall production control.