A control methodology for automated manufacturing
The application of computers in the manufacturing industry has substantially altered the control procedures used to program a whole manufacturing process. Currently, one the problems which automated manufacturing systems are experiencing is the lack of a good overall control system. The subject of this research has been centred on the identification of the problems involved in current methods of control and their advantages and disadvantages in an automated manufacturing system. As a result, a different type of control system has been proposed which distributes both the control and the decision making. This control model is an hybrid of hierarchical and hierarchical control systems which takes advantage of the best points offered by both types of control structures. The Durham FMS rig has been used as a testbed for an automated manufacturing system to which the hybrid control system has been applied. The implementation of this control system would not have been possible without the design and development of a System Integration Tool (SIT). The system is capable of real-time scheduling of the system activities. Activities within the system are monitored in real-time and a recording of the system events is available, which allows the user to analyse the activities of the system off-line. A network independent communication technique was developed for the Durham FMS which allowed the manufacturing cells to exercise peer-to-peer communication. The SIT also allowed the integration of equipment from different vendors in the FMS.