Computer control of machines utilising independent drive mechanisms
The thesis describes an investigation into methods for the specification, design and implementation of computer control systems for flexible manufacturing machines comprising multiple, independent, electromechanically-driven mechanisms. An analysis is made of the elements of conventional mechanically-coupled machines in order that the operational functions of these elements may be identified. This analysis is used to define the scope of requirements necessary to specify the format, function and operation of a flexible, independently driven mechanism machine. A discussion of how this type of machine can accommodate modern manufacturing needs of high-speed and flexibility is presented. A sequential method of capturing requirements for such machines is detailed based on a hierarchical partitioning of machine requirements from product to independent drive mechanism. A classification of mechanisms using notations, including Data flow diagrams and Petri-nets, is described which supports capture and allows validation of requirements. A generic design for a modular, IDM machine controller is derived based upon hierarchy of control identified in these machines. A two mechanism experimental machine is detailed which is used to demonstrate the application of the specification, design and implementation techniques. A computer controller prototype and a fully flexible implementation for the IDM machine, based on Petri-net models described using the concurrent programming language Occam, is detailed. The ability of this modular computer controller to support flexible, safe and fault-tolerant operation of the two intermittent motion, discrete-synchronisation independent drive mechanisms is presented. The application of the machine development methodology to industrial projects is established.