The objective this project is to enhance the intelligence and effectiveness of various supply chain decisions through providing real-time, dynamic insight into the technological capabilities, capacities, and quality history of manufacturing suppliers. This project will result in creation of a cloud-based software solution for manufacturing capability modeling and sharing supported by a formal ontology.
Smart Manufacturing through a Framework for Knowledge Based System Diagnosis (NIST-sponsored project):
Within the manufacturing industry various techniques are used to diagnose problems throughout all levels of the organization. Often times, this root cause analysis process is ad-hoc with no standard representation for artifacts or terminology used in the analysis. Once a problem is diagnosed and treatments are assessed, the results are discarded or stored locally as text documents or in paper form. When the same or similar problem occurs again in a different factory or with different employees, the whole process has to be repeated without taking advantage of knowledge gained from previous problem(s). Furthermore, when discussing the diagnosis, employees might have miscommunication over terms used in the root cause analysis leading to wasted time and errors. To alleviate these issues, this project is aimed at developing a framework for a knowledge based system of diagnosis. By synthesizing diagnosis methods used in manufacturing and in the medical community, this work proposes a framework which integrates and formalizes root cause analysis that spans multiple organizational levels. The proposed framework aims to leverage recent advances in machine learning for diagnosis in smart manufacturing. In particular, Bayesian Network will be used for developing the probabilistic model. A diagnosis ontology and a thesaurus are among the main deliverable of this project.
The objective of this NSF-sponsored research is to measure the information content of different artifacts used in early design in a manner that is neutral of the representation and also to empirically study the growth of information, or reduction of uncertainty, in the early stages of engineering design process. Information of various types is used and produced in design, and each may be expressed in different forms, such as pictorial, text, symbolic, or virtual. We believe that information is a medium-neutral and form-neutral quantity, i.e., the same assertion, whether expressed in text or sketch, contains the same amount of information and this amount could be measured. To this end, we will first propose a form-neutral representation based on an ontological approach that could be used to translate any type of design information into a neutral form. Next, we will develop multiple metrics to measure the information content of artifacts based on this neutral representation and also will develop the necessary automated tools for quantification of the information content of design artifacts. Previously, we proposed a set of models to measure how decisions, enabled by new information, reduce the design space and thus the uncertainty of the solution. We will use these models to validate the information metrics by experimentally measuring how information within different artifacts, as measured by the metrics, corresponds to the role of the information in reducing uncertainty.
Collaborative Reference Model Evolution for Smart Manufacturing Systems:
Distributed intelligence is one of the key distinguishing features of the already emerging, next generation manufacturing systems. The new factories of the future are supported by service-oriented, data-driven, and knowledge-based systems. Such factories are operated and controlled by networks of interconnected devices and processes with embedded intelligence. The embedded intelligent agents provide and consume a wide range of services such as process selection, production planning and control, inventory management, quality control, and maintenance planning. A service-oriented manufacturing enterprise creates a network of loosely-coupled processes that can be configured and reconfigured in a timely manner in response to changing needs. This enhances the overall responsiveness, agility, and resilience of the system. Although the idea of Service-oriented Manufacturing (SOM) has been around for more than a decade, there are still multiple infrastructural issues that need to be addressed before the real benefits of SOM can be realized in practice. One of those issues is the development of shared reference models that are used for representation of the services. A reference model, like any other ontology, is a living entity and it evolves over time due to change in the conceptualization of the domain, business strategy evolution, or new user’s needs. The objective of this NIST-sponsored project is to propose a formal process for community-based reference model evolution and identify the computational components required for effective model evolution.
Text Mining Techniques for Manufacturing Supplier Classification and Clustering:
The web presence of manufacturing suppliers is constantly increasing and so does the volume of textual data available online that pertains to the capabilities of manufacturing suppliers. To process this large volume of data and infer new knowledge about the capabilities of manufacturing suppliers, different text mining techniques such as association rule generation, classification, and clustering can be applied. This research focuses on classification and clustering of manufacturing suppliers based on the textual description of their capabilities available in their online profiles. Different techniques, such as Naïve Bayes method will be adopted and implemented using R programming language in this project. Casting and CNC machining are used as the examples classes of suppliers in the early stages of the project but more complex classes (such as a class of precision machining suppliers with screw machining capabilities) will be investigated in the future. The performance of the proposed tools will be evaluated experimentally based on the standard metrics such as precision, recall, and F-measure. Also a thesaurus based on SKOS will be used to improve the intelligence of the classifier tool.
Digital Manufacturing Market:
Manufacturing Market is a market in which manufacturing process capacity is the object of trade. In a market, units of capacity can be acquired as needed and when needed, thus making supply chains more responsive to fluctuations in supply and demand. Although Manufacturing Market can be built physically as a spot market, its benefits can be better realized in a web-based framework. We refer to the web-based version of Manufacturing Market as Digital Manufacturing Market (DMM). Seamless operation of supply chains in heterogeneous, distributed and virtual environments like DMM directly depends on the quality of information exchange among the members of supply chains. A lack of universally accepted and implemented information exchange standards in manufacturing domain is the major impediment to the materialization of Digital Manufacturing Market.
This research area represents a category of projects that are aimed at developing the required infrastructural elements for enabling a web-based framework for trading manufacturing services. In particular, this project deals with development of engineering ontologies for DMM and development of search engines and web-based applications for connecting buyers and sellers of manufacturing services . Students with background in supply chain management and information systems are invited to get involved in this research area.
Multi-agent System for Supplier Discovery:
Manufacturing supply chain can be considered as a network of autonomous, distributed, and self-contained business units aiming at the procurement, manufacturing, and distribution of goods. Therefore, multi-agent system provides is a valid approach for modeling supply chain networks in distributed environments. Furthermore, agent-based systems, due to their automation capabilities, can accommodate the computational complexities of the supply chain deployment problem more efficiently.This project is aimed at development of a virtual market for trading manufacturing services in which buyers and sellers are represented by intelligent software agents. In this market, intelligent agents collaboratively build supply chains based on the required manufacturing services for a given order. In an environment in which agents have no previous knowledge of each other’s type, capabilities, and interaction models, development of standard communication and interaction languages and protocols is a necessity. Ideally, the common terminological system of an agent-based framework should provide the required building blocks for construction of a shared body of knowledge that can be understood and interpreted by all agents who subscribe to the terminology. Therefore, in this project, a shared ontology (MSDL) will be developed for agent communication and knowledge representation at a semantic level to enable rich communication between the participating agents. MSDL provides the elemental units required for explicit representation of a wide range of manufacturing knowledge primarily in the domain of material removal. Another key component of the proposed market framework is a set of intelligent matchmaking algorithms that will help the search agents to discover appropriate suppliers based on semantic similarities between the advertised services and the requested ones. JADE is used as the agent development platform.
Knowledge Representation in the Cognitive Factory:
Due to increase in the number of product variants in the market and trend toward customized products, manufacturing facilities are increasingly becoming more flexible and reconfigurable in order to be able to respond quickly to changes in work orders. Although Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS) and Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems (RMS) have significantly improved adaptability of manufacturing facilities, they still depend on off-line programming by human programmers. Therefore, the response time of the entire system is prolonged due to limited capabilities and knowledge of human programmers. To fill this gap, manufacturing systems need to be equipped with embedded cognitive capabilities such as self-awareness, sensing, reasoning, and learning. With intelligence and cognitive capabilities embedded in manufacturing systems, they can be reprogrammed and reconfigured autonomously with minimal human interaction. A key component of a Smart Factory is the knowledge model which consists of models of manufacturing processes, models of machine capabilities and models of workpiece.
This research area represents a family of projects that are geared toward developing the components of a Smart Factory with emphasis on knowledge modeling and reuse. Students with strong background in programming (particularly JAVA language) and software development are invited to join this family of projects. Familiarity with CAD/CAM and agent-based technologies is desirable.
Manufacturing Service Description Language (MSDL):
Manufacturing Service Description Language (MSDL) is an OWL-based ontology developed for formal representation of manufacturing services. MSDL was first released in 2006 in PLM Alliance research group at the University of Michigan and currently is maintained and extended in the Infoneer Reseach Group at Texas State University under supervision of Farhad Ameri. MSDL is a formal ontology since it is contains explicit semantics coded in a logic-based formalism. OWL-DL, a sub-language of OWL, is selected as the ontology language of MSDL. OWL is recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as the ontology language of the Semantic Web. OWL uses XML as the syntax language; hence it has enough portability, flexibility, and extensibility for web-scale applications. Description Logic (DL)  is supported by the Semantic Web meaning that OWL-based ontologies can be shared, parsed, and manipulated through open-source web-based tools and technologies, including multi-agent systems. The original purpose of MSDL was to serve as the ontology language of an agent-based framework for supply chain deployment.