An approach to enacting business process models in support of the life cycle of integrated manufacturing systems
The complexity of enterprise engineering processes requires the application of reference architectures as means of guiding the achievement of an adequate level of business integration. This research aims to address important aspects of this requirement by associating the formalism of reference architectures to various life cycle phases of integrating manufacturing systems (IMS) and enabling their use in addressing contemporary system engineering issues. In pursuit of this aim, the following research activities were carried out: (1) to devise a framework which supports key phases of the IMS life cycle and (2) to populate part of this framework with an initial combination of architectures which can be encapsulated into a computer-aided systems engineering environment. This has led to the creation of a workbench capable of providing support for modelling, analysis, simulation, rapid-prototyping, configuration and run-time operation of an IMS, based on a consistent set of models associated with the engineering processes involved. The research effort concentrated on selecting and investigating the use of appropriate formalisms which underpin a selection of architectures and tools (i. e. CIM-OSA, Petrinets, object-oriented methods and CIM-BIOSYS), this by designing, implementing, applying and testing the workbench. The main contribution of this research is to demonstrate that it is possible to retain an adequate level of formalism, via computational structures and models, which extend through the IMS life cycle from a conceptual description of the system through to actions that the system performs when operating. The underlying methodology which supported this contribution is based on enacting models of system behaviour which encode important coordination aspects of manufacturing systems. The strategy for demonstrating the incorporation of formalism to the IMS life cycle was to enable the aggregation into a workbench of knowledge of 'what' the system is expected to achieve (i. e. 'problems' to be addressed) and 'how' the system can achieve it (i. e possible 'solutions'). Within the workbench, such a knowledge is represented through an amalgamation of business process modelling and object-oriented modelling approaches which, when adequately manipulated, can lead to business integration.