Intelligent Manufacturing (IM) is a human-machine integrated intelligent system composed of intelligent machines and human experts. It can perform intelligent activities during the manufacturing process, such as analysis, reasoning, judgment, conception, and decision-making. Through the cooperation of humans and intelligent machines, the brainwork of human experts in the manufacturing process can be expanded, extended and partially replaced. It updates the concept of manufacturing automation and extends it to flexibility, intelligence and high integration.
Speaking of intelligent manufacturing, we should first introduce the “intelligent manufacturing system” (IMS) international cooperative research plan initiated by Japan in April 1990. Many developed countries such as the United States, the European Community, Canada, Australia, etc. have participated in the program. The program plans to invest a total of $1 billion to implement pre-scientific research plans for 100 projects.
There is no doubt that intelligence is the direction of development for manufacturing automation. Artificial intelligence technology is used in almost every part of the manufacturing process. Technological expertise can be used for engineering design, process design, production scheduling, malfunction diagnosis, etc. Advanced computer intelligence methods such as neural network and fuzzy control technology can also be applied to product formulations, production scheduling, etc., in order to achieve intelligent manufacturing processes. Furthermore, artificial intelligence technology is particularly suitable for solving extremely complex and uncertain problems. But on the other hand, it is also obvious that to achieve intelligent manufacturing in the entire production process of the enterprise is almost impossible, or at most possible in the far future. People even asked: “Will intelligent automation be achieved in the next century?”, if the intelligence is only applied in a certain part of the enterprise, and the overall optimization cannot be guaranteed, then the meaning of this kind of intelligence is finite.
The basic component of the holonic system is holon. The word is originated from Greek. Holon is used to represent the smallest component of the system, and the holonic system consists of various types of holons. The most essential characteristics of holons are:
Autonomy, each holon can make plans for its own operating actions, can respond to unexpected events (such as changes in manufacturing resources, changes in requirements for manufacturing tasks, etc.), and its actions are controllable;
Cooperative, each holon can request other holons to perform a certain operation actions, and can also respond to other holons’ request for operation;
Intelligence, holons have intelligence such as reasoning and judgment, which is also the immanent cause for their autonomy and cooperation. The characteristics of the holons above show that it is similar to the concept of an intelligent agent.
The characteristics of the holonic system are:
Agility, self-organization ability, can quickly and reliably build new systems.
Flexibility, strong adaptability to the rapidly changing market, inconsistent production demands require strong adaptability.
In addition, there are models such as biological manufacturing, green manufacturing, and fractal manufacturing.
The manufacturing models mainly reflect the development of management science and is also the result of the development in automation and system technology. It will propose new research topics for automation technologies of various unit, thereby affecting the development direction of manufacturing automation as a whole.
Looking to the future, manufacturing automation in the 21st century will continue to advance along the track of history.