Tampere University of Technology

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Formal Digital Description of Production Equipment Modules for supporting System Design and Deployment

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisMonograph

Details

Original languageEnglish
PublisherTampere University of Technology
Number of pages211
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-15-3783-7
ISBN (Print)978-952-15-3779-0
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2016
Publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Publication series

NameTampere University of Technology. Publication
Volume1402
ISSN (Print)1459-2045

Abstract

The requirements for production systems are moving towards higher flexibility, adaptability and reactivity. Increasing volatility in global and local economies, shorter product life cycles and the ever-increasing number of product variants arising from product customization have led to a demand for production systems which can respond more rapidly to these changing requirements. Therefore, whenever a new product, or product variant, enters production, the production system designer must be able to create an easily-reconfigurable production system which not only meets the User Requirements (UR) but is quick and cost-efficient to set up. Modern production systems must be able to integrate new product variants with minimum effort. In the event of a product changeover or an unforeseen incident, such as the mechanical failure of a production resource, it must be possible to reconfigure the production system smoothly and seamlessly by adding, removing or altering the resources. Ideally, auto-configuration should obviate the need to manually re-programme the system once it has been reconfigured.

The cornerstone of any solution to the above-mentioned challenges is the concept of being able to create formalised, comprehensive descriptions of all production resources. Providing universally-recognised digital representations of all the multifarious resources used in a production system would enable a standardised exchange of information between the different actors involved in building a new production system. Such freely available and machine-readable information could also be utilised by the wide variety of software tools that come into play during the different life cycle phases of a production system, thus considerably extending its useful life. These digital descriptions would also offer a multi-faceted foundation for the reconfiguration of production systems. The production paradigms presented here would support state-of-the-art production systems, such as Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems (RMSs), Holonic Manufacturing Systems (HMSs) and Evolvable Production Systems (EPSs).

The methodological framework for this research is Design Research Methodology (DRM) supported with Systems Engineering, Action Research, and case-based research. The first two were used to develop the concept and data models for the resource descriptions, through a process of iterative development. The case-based research was used for verification, through the modelling and analysis of two separate production systems used in this research. The concept, on which this thesis is based, is itself based on the triplicity of production system design, i.e. Product, Process and Resource. The processes, are implemented through the capabilities of the resources, which are thus directly linked to the product requirements. The driving force behind this new approach to production system design is its strong emphasis on making production systems that can be reconfigured easily. Successful system reconfiguration can only be achieved, however, if all the required production resources can be quickly and easily compared to all the available production resources in one unified, and universally accepted form. These descriptions must not only be able to capture all of a production system’s capabilities, but must also include information about its interfaces, kinematics, technical properties and its control and communication abilities.

The answer to this lies in the Emplacement Concept, which is described and developed in this thesis. The Emplacement Concept proposes the creation of a multi-layered Generic Model containing information about production resources in three different layers. These are the Abstract Module Description (AMD), the Module Description (MD), and the Module Instance Description (MID). Each of these layers has unique characteristics which can be utilised in the different phases of designing, commissioning and reconfiguring a production system. The AMD is the most abstract (general) descriptive layer and can be used for initial system design iterations. It ensures that the proposed resources for the production system are exchangeable and interchangeable, and thus guides the selection of production resources and the implementation (or reconfiguration) of a production system. The MD is the next level down, and provides a more detailed description of the type of production resource, providing ’finer granularity’ for the descriptions. The MID provides the finest level of granularity and contains invaluable information about the individual instances of a particular production resource. This research involves two practical implementations of the Generic Model. These are used to model and digitally represent all the production resources used in the two use-case environments. All the modules in the production systems (25 in all) were modelled and described with the data models developed here. In fact, we were able to freeze the data models after the first case study, as they didn’t need any major changes in order to model the production resources of the second use-case environment. This demonstrates the general applicability of the proposed approach for modelling modular production resources.

The advantages of being able to describe production resources in a unified digital form are many and varied. For example, production systems which are described in this way are much more agile. They can react faster to changes in demand and can be reconfigured easily and quickly. The resource descriptions also improve the sustainability of production systems because they provide detailed information about the exact capabilities and characteristics of all the available resources. This means that production system designers are better placed to utilise ready-made modules, (design by re-use). Being able to use readily available production modules means that the Time to Market and Time to Volume are improved, as new production systems can be built or reconfigured using tested and fully operational modules, which can easily be integrated into an already operational production system. Finally, the resource descriptions are an essential source of information for auto-configuration tools, allowing automated, or semi-automated production system design. However, harvesting the full benefits of all these outcomes requires that the tools used to create new production systems can understand and utilise the modular descriptions proposed by this concept. This, in turn, presupposes that the all the formalised descriptions of the production modules provided here will be made publicly available, and will form the basis for an ever-expanding library of such descriptions.

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