A knowledge-based tool for designing cyber physical production systems
Changing production systems and product requirements can trace their origin in volatile customer behaviour and evolving product requirements. This dynamic nature of customer requirements has been described as a constantly moving target, thus presenting a significant challenge for several aspects of product development. To deal with this constant and sometimes unpredictable product evolution, cyber physical production systems (CPPS) that employ condition monitoring, self-awareness and reconfigurability principles, have to be designed and implemented. This research contributes a CPPS design approach that proactively provides the required CPPS design knowledge. This approach aims to minimize or avoids future consequences and disruptions on the CPPS. This knowledge needs to be provided at the right time whilst not being intrusive to the production system designer's cognitive activity. To effectively deal with the complexity of the cyber physical production system design activity with a manual method would lead to a time consuming, and complex support tool which is hard to implement, and difficult to use. The CPPS design approach has therefore been implemented in a prototype digital factory tool. This paper describes in detail the system requirements and system architecture for this tool. In order to establish the effectiveness of the proposed approach for designing cyber physical production systems, the prototype digital factory tool has been evaluated with a case study and a number of semi-structured interviews with both industrial and scientific stakeholders. The encouraging results obtained from this research evaluation have shown that such an approach for supporting the CPPS design activity makes stakeholders aware of their decision consequences and is useful in practice. This result can lead the way for the development and integration of such knowledge-based decision-making approaches within state of-the-art digital factory and Computer Aided Engineering Design (CAED) tools.