Multi-Agent Systems for Concurrent Intelligent Design and by Shen, Weiming; Norrie, Douglas H.; Barthes, J-P.

By Shen, Weiming; Norrie, Douglas H.; Barthes, J-P.

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Flexible manufacturing systems are designed for small batch (low volume) and high variety conditions (many different products). They are designed to fill the gap between high-production transfer lines and low-production NC machines. However, it must be noted that only under certain circumstances are FMSs clearly justified. From the R&D literature, it can be easily be established that FMSs may be appropriate in the following situations: – – – – – – – Production of families of parts; Random launching of parts into the system; Reduced manufacturing lead times; Reduced in-process inventory; Increased machine utilization; Reduced direct and indirect labor; Better management control.

Consequently, its use can result in large investments, long lead times, and rigid systems, due to the large size of the integrated system and its centralization. Furthermore, this rigidity and the emphasis on automation may lead to a loss of both flexibility and adaptability in changing environments. This may stagnate future progress unless the creativity of the worker is intensively used for continuous improvement and innovation. 3) to address the problems of system reconfiguration, coordination, and adaptation.

3 Actors The contract-net protocol offered an early practical means for dealing with open systems from a software engineering point of view. The actor model proposed by Hewitt offers a model of computation for open systems at a finer grain than the contract-net approach. Blackboards have independent knowledge sources sharing a common memory, the contract-net approach has knowledge sources attached to distinct nodes of a computation network and both approaches use a limited number of moderately complex knowledge sources.

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