Final Report of IMS Test Case 7

GNOSIS: Knowledge Systematization: Configuration Systems for Design and Manufacturing


The GNOSIS project has been concerned with learning both from the experience of the operation of the technical work packages and from individual partner experience in GNOSIS. Each work package developed a brief list of its research highlights and industrial benefits, and these are reported below. The full reports on the work package have been published separately as listed in Section 8.

4.1 Systematization of Knowledge Highlights

Fuji-Xerox produced a classification of the knowledge they need to systematize as part of their goal of zero-fault design and manufacture. This is feeding back into the design process. It illustrates work undertaken in the work package as part of a `technology map' concerned with the identification of the industrial requirements for the systematization of knowledge.

A number of interesting results also arose from the literature survey. For example, information and knowledge standards were identified that partners could employ, and which could act as guide in knowledge systematization. Also, from a variety of projects a common architecture was developed consisting of a set of independent `knowledge agents' communicating through a `mediator'. This architecture offers a framework for long-term GNOSIS research on knowledge systematization.

The main joint demonstration created a context that fused different stages and approaches to product modeling and manufacturing preparation. The implementation of each element, and their integration, required that each partner understand the principles underlying each approach. The use of more conventional object-oriented approaches also pointed to the potential for integration of the work with existing management information systems.

As part of the main joint demonstration, use of the SYSFUND and MCOES tools, integrated from two different partners, has created a working prototype of how one could integrate conceptual design and part family description. More broadly, the demonstration of the information flow from part design to manufacturing preparation generated important information about the knowledge required, and its organization, as it passes from design to manufacturing.

The industrial partners experienced a number of benefits. Examples are:

Specific needs were matched with identifiable seed technologies, and the risk associated with the deployment of these new technologies was able to be spread across partners.

4.2 Configuration Management Systems Highlights

The work in configuration management systems (CMS) has shown good collaboration with both industrial and research partners contributing ideas and validating concepts. It started with analysis of the requirements for systems incorporating concepts of design for manufacture and concurrent engineering. A framework for the analysis of such systems was developed which can be used for elicitation of manufacturing knowledge. The framework was validated by five industrial partners. A function based product model was developed from the framework incorporating constraint satisfaction techniques. Existing approaches were considered but found unsuitable for the whole range of configuration tasks. The model was validated and improved to meet the needs of all partners.

In addition to the product life cycle, the products' continuous improvement has been taken into account. A dynamic CMS has been proposed which is based on constraints for product specification as well as functional and structural product description, and also on modeling the organization including the objectives of the enterprise.

Significant industrial benefits have already been achieved:

Building a CMS requires the creation of a database of the resources and the collection of configuration knowledge. This leads to consistent and easily accessible data and documented knowledge.

4.3 Configurable Production Systems Highlights

The following research highlights were accomplished: Significant industrial benefits have been achieved.

4.4 Soft Machinery Highlights

Among the techniques for realizing soft products are modularity and functional redundancy, through which a soft machine can continue operation in spite of faults or unexpected conditions. The SYSFUND tool of University of Tokyo facilitates knowledge-intensive design of functionally redundant artifacts. The system was distributed to several partners, who used or evaluated it in their own domains. Some highlights of this work include: Direct industrial benefits of the work are still in the future. The main benefit for industrial companies has been new viewpoints to industrial problems using soft machinery concepts and the exchange of ideas across diverse domains. In particular, the soft machinery concepts provide a link between the future post mass production paradigm and real design and production problems by focusing on specific attributes of future products such as self-maintainability, fault tolerance, and flexibility.

4.5 Post Mass Production Paradigm Highlights

Research into the post mass production paradigm was carried out by developing a research framework in which the partners contributed their experiences and perspectives. This framework was iteratively expanded and developed in order to clarify and focus the objectives. The probable course of future paradigm developments were studied.

A global perspective on the post mass production paradigm was developed by identifying and analyzing the significant parameters of the paradigm, such as critical drivers, obstacles, and so on. It shows that knowledge-intensive simultaneous growth of products, production systems, and organizations will provide a basis for tackling the problems encountered in achieving a new paradigm, relating to various aspects of human society, including the environment.

The research carried out so far has included the following research highlights:

Directly related to the items mentioned above, various benefits for companies within the consortium and, in the future, for those outside the consortium, have been identified:
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