Applications integration for manufacturing control systems with particular reference to software interoperability issues
thesisposted on 2013-12-06, 09:52 authored by Valdew Singh
The introduction and adoption of contemporary computer aided manufacturing control systems (MCS) can help rationalise and improve the productivity of manufacturing related activities. Such activities include product design, process planning and production management with CAD, CAPP and CAPM. However, they tend to be domain specific and would generally have been designed as stand-alone systems where there is a serious lack of consideration for integration requirements with other manufacturing activities outside the area of immediate concern. As a result, "islands of computerisation" exist which exhibit deficiencies and constraints that inhibit or complicate subsequent interoperation among typical MCS components. As a result of these interoperability constraints, contemporary forms of MCS typically yield sub-optimal benefits and do not promote synergy on an enterprise-wide basis. The move towards more integrated manufacturing systems, which requires advances in software interoperability, is becoming a strategic issue. Here the primary aim is to realise greater functional synergy between software components which span engineering, production and management activities and systems. Hence information of global interest needs to be shared across conventional functional boundaries between enterprise functions. The main thrust of this research study is to derive a new generation of MCS in which software components can "functionally interact" and share common information through accessing distributed data repositories in an efficient, highly flexible and standardised manner. It addresses problems of information fragmentation and the lack of formalism, as well as issues relating to flexibly structuring interactions between threads of functionality embedded within the various components. The emphasis is on the: • definition of generic information models which underpin the sharing of common data among production planning, product design, finite capacity scheduling and cell control systems. • development of an effective framework to manage functional interaction between MCS components, thereby coordinating their combined activities. • "soft" or flexible integration of the MCS activities over an integrating infrastructure in order to (i) help simplify typical integration problems found when using contemporary interconnection methods for applications integration; and (ii) enable their reconfiguration and incremental development. In order to facilitate adaptability in response to changing needs, these systems must also be engineered to enable reconfigurability over their life cycle. Thus within the scope of this research study a new methodology and software toolset have been developed to formally structure and support implementation, run-time and change processes. The tool set combines the use of IDEFO (for activity based or functional modelling), IDEFIX (for entity-attribute relationship modelling), and EXPRESS (for information modelling). This research includes a pragmatic but effective means of dealing with legacyl software, which often may be a vital source of readily available information which supports the operation of the manufacturing enterprise. The pragmatism and medium term relevance of the research study has promoted particular interest and collaboration from software manufacturers and industrial practitioners. Proof of concept studies have been carried out to implement and evaluate the developed mechanisms and software toolset.
- Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering