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|First running platform: Pre-demonstrator|
An important milestone of IDEAS was the completion of the pre-demonstrator. The aim of the pre-demonstrator was to show, that a system, consisting of mechatronic agents, is working stable in an industrial environment. The pre-demonstrator was designed to present a first version of IDEAS multiagent system (MAS) in order to use it as a test bed for the MAS architecture to support the further development of the architecture. To save time it was decided to use an existing system from FESTO and integrate the multiagent system into that system. The selected system Miniprod (miniaturised production system) is a miniaturised production platform with pluggable process units and a flexible, two-dimensional transportation system (see figure).
As controller platform the Combo200 a standard industrial PLC platform from ELREST was selected which is able to run JADE agents for the IDEAS MAS. Elrest further provided a library, which allows the JADE agents on the Combo200 to control the hardware I/O’s of the controller directly.
The multiagent architecture for the pre-demonstrator was developed by UNINOVA, Masmec, KTH, Elrest, University of Nottingham, KIT and FESTO. The agent state model was developed by Masmec and UNINOVA. Festo prepared the pre-demonstrator for the system integration and implemented the path planning agent and the PLC code for the pre-demonstrator transportation system. UNINOVA and KTH implemented the agents for the resources of the system and the agent user interface – an agent management system to control the multiagent system. This tool includes a graphical editor to prepare process work flow data by drag and drop. The single components of the system were put together in a final integration workshop in January 2011.
With the pre-demonstrator we were able to implement a multiagent system in an existing and enclosed production environment with well-defined interfaces. The system reacted automatically to changing conditions of the production system. Also the flexible usage of resources in the system needed to fulfil the process execution. Another conceptual point was a new way of engineering which is supposed to be one major outcome of the IDEAS concept: The pre-demonstrator was able to run production processes without any programming effort. Processes were prepared with the help of a graphical editor by drag and drop. The multiagent system then organized the execution of the process autonomously the process work flow data as the only input.
The outcome of the first demonstrator of IDEAS shows that usability of a concept like IDEAS in industrial applications is reachable and that soon we will be able to provide stable and innovative solutions for industrial customers.