Agent technology is considered as a promising approach for developing optimizing process plans in intelligent manufacturing. As a bridge between computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM), the computer aided scheduling optimization (CASO) plays an important role in the computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) environment. In order to develop a multi-agent-based scheduling system for intelligent manufacturing, it is necessary to build various functional agents for all the resources and an agent manager to improve the scheduling agility. Identifying the shortcomings of traditional scheduling algorithm in intelligent manufacturing, the architecture of intelligent manufacturing system based on multi-agent is put forward, among which agent represents the basic processing entity. Multi-agent-based scheduling is a new intelligent scheduling method based on the theories of multi-agent system (MAS) and distributed artificial intelligence (DAI). It views intelligent manufacturing as composed of a set of intelligent agents, who are responsible for one or more activities and interacting with other related agents in planning and executing their responsibilities. In this paper, the proposed architecture consists of various autonomous agents that are capable of communicating with each other and making decisions based on their knowledge. The architecture of intelligent manufacturing, the scheduling optimization algorithm, the negotiation processes and protocols among the agents are described in detail. A prototype system is built and validated in an illustrative example, which demonstrates the feasibility of the proposed approach. The experiments prove that the implementation of multi-agent technology in intelligent manufacturing system makes the operations much more flexible, economical and energy efficient. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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