IECON 2012

Montréal (Canada) 25th – 28th October 2012

Three papers describing significant results of the Grace project are presented in the Special Session of IECON 2012 dedicated to “Research and Development Projects on Industrial Agents”.
IECON 2012 is the 38th Annual Conference of the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society and is focused on industrial and manufacturing theory and applications of electronics, controls, communications, instrumentation and computational intelligence.

The three contributions presented are:

Quality Control Agents for Adaptive Visual Inspection in Production Lines
L. Stroppa | N. Rodriguez | P. Leitão | N. Paone

In the last decade multi-agent systems (MAS) have been thoroughly investigated as a suitable paradigm for process control. Despite the difficulties in designing and maintaining a MAS architecture for real production scenarios, several EU research projects have been financed and many companies are looking at the improvement in the production efficiency of such systems. The EU FP7 GRACE project aims at the integration of process and quality control in a multi-agent environment. This paper discusses the integration of quality control stations into the GRACE MAS. The stations themselves will become autonomous agents, capable of self-reconfiguration according to the needs of the production to improve shop floor efficiency while maintaining the same (and possibly higher) quality level for the manufactured products. Details about the quality control agent behaviour, its integration with the physical hardware and communication with the other agents will be given. All the concepts have been tested in an experimental environment where a vision inspection station behaves as one of the agents of the MAS platform, communicating and exchanging data with the other agents and optimizing its operations over time.

GRACE Ontology Integrating Process and Quality Control”
P. Leitão | N. Rodrigues | C. Turrin | A. Pagani | P. Petrali

Multi-agent systems is a suitable approach to implement distributed manufacturing systems addressing the emergent requirements of flexibility, robustness and responsiveness. In such systems, the distributed agents need to communicate to solve a problem, requiring a common understanding of the shared knowledge. An ontology is a crucial piece to provide a common understanding on the vocabulary used by the intelligent, distributed agents during the exchange of shared knowledge. This paper describes the design of an ontology to support the knowledge representation that is used within a multi-agent system integrating process and quality control, which is being developed within the GRACE (inteGration of pRocess and quAlity Control using multi-agEnt technology) project.

Self-Adapting Test-Plans in Production Line: an Application to Vision Control Stations
A. Bastari | M. Piersantelli | C. Cristalli | N. Paone

Automatic Quality Control (AQC) in production line needs a constant design and update of test plans, in order to face with incoming new models produced, variations in sub assembly components and modifications of environmental conditions. This time consuming and fatiguing activity is usually carried out by human operators, otherwise the AQC system could drift away from optimal operating conditions, thus providing unreliable result. In the present work, an innovative approach for self-creation and self-updating of test plans using only the knowledge gained from the production data (through a Multi Agent System architecture) is presented, along with its application to an AQC system based on machine vision. Real images from a washing machines production line are used to validate the algorithms. This work is being developed within the FP7 European Project GRACE (inteGration of pRocess and quAlity Control using multi-agEnt technology).

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