A knowledge-based system for process planning in a seamless steel tube plant
The thesis describes the work carried out to develop a prototype knowledge-based system 'KBS-SETUPP' to generate process plans for the manufacture of seamless tubes. The work is specifically related to a plant in which hollows are made from solid billets using a rotary piercing process and then reduced to required size and finished properties using the fixed plug cold drawing process. The thesis first discusses various methods of tube production in order to give a general background of tube manufacture. Then a review of the automation of the process planning function is presented in terms of its basic sub-tasks and the techniques and suitability of a knowledge-based system is established. In the light of such a review and a case study, the process planning problem is formulated in the domain of seamless tube manufacture, its basic sub-tasks are identified and capabilities and constraints of the available equipment in the specific plant are established. The task of collecting and collating the process planning knowledge in seamless tube manufacture is discussed and is mostly fulfilled from domain experts, analysing of existing manufacturing records specific to plant, textbooks and applicable Standards. For the cold drawing mill, tube-drawing schedules have been rationalised to correspond with practice. The validation of such schedules has been achieved by computing the process parameters and then comparing these with the drawbench capacity to avoid over-loading. The existing models cannot be simulated in the computer program as such, therefore a mathematical model has been proposed which estimates the process parameters which are in close agreement with experimental values established by other researchers. To implement the concepts, a Knowledge-Based System 'KBS- SETUPP' has been developed on Personal Computer using Turbo- Prolog. The system is capable of generating process plans, production schedules and some additional capabilities to supplement process planning. The system generated process plans have been compared with the actual plans of the company and it has been shown that the results are satisfactory and encouraging and that the system has the capabilities which are useful.