Design of an expandable manufacturing simulator through the application of object-oriented principles
In analysing manufacturing systems, for either design or operational reasons, failure to account for the potentially significant dynamics could produce invalid results. There are many analysis techniques that can be used, however, simulation is unique in its ability to assess detailed, dynamic behaviour. The use of simulation to analyse manufacturing systems would therefore seem appropriate if not essential. Many simulation software products are available but their ease of use and scope of application vary greatly. This is illustrated at one extreme by simulators which offer rapid but limited application whilst at the other simulation languages which are extremely flexible but tedious to code. Given that a typical manufacturing engineer does not posses in depth programming and simulation skills then the use of simulators over simulation languages would seem a more appropriate choice. Whilst simulators offer ease of use their limited functionality may preclude their use in many applications. The construction of current simulators makes it difficult to amend or extend the functionality of the system to meet new challenges. Some simulators could even become obsolete as users, demand modelling functionality that reflects the latest manufacturing system design and operation concepts. This thesis examines the deficiencies in current simulation tools and considers whether they can be overcome by the application of object-oriented principles. Object-oriented techniques have gained in popularity in recent years and are seen as having the potential to overcome any of the problems traditionally associated with software construction. There are a number of key concepts that are exploited in the work described in this thesis: the use of object-oriented techniques to act as a framework for abstracting engineering concepts into a simulation tool and the ability to reuse and extend object-oriented software.