Expert system design for cold form sections
The concept of an Expert System (ES) has been acknowledged as a very useful tool, but few studies have been carried out in its application to the design of cold rolled sections. This study involves primarily the use of an ES as a tool to improve the design process and to capture the draughtsman's knowledge. Its main purpose is to reduce substantially the time taken to produce a section drawing, thereby facilitating a speedy feedback to the customer. In order to communicate with a draughtsman, it is necessary to use sketches, symbolic representations and numerical data. This increases the complexity of programming an ES, as it is necessary to use a combination of languages so that decisions, calculations, graphical drawings and control of the system can be effected. A production system approach is used and a further step has been taken by introducing an Activator which is an autoexecute operation set up by the ES to operate an external program automatically. To speed up the absorption of new knowledge into the knowledge base, a new Learning System has been constructed. In addition to developing the ES, other software has been written to assist the design process. The section properties software has been introduced to improve the speed and consistency of calculating the section properties. A method of selecting or comparing the most appropriate section for a given specification is also implemented. Simple loading facilities have been introduced to guide the designer as to the loading capacity of the section. This research has concluded that the application of an ES is beneficial and with the activator approach, automated designing can be achieved. On average a complex drawing can be displayed on the screen in about 100 seconds, where over 95% of the initial section design time for repetitive or similar profile can be saved.