This paper reports on the development of a real-time control network as an integrated part of a shop floor control system for small batch part manufacturing. The shop floor control system is called the production control system (PCS). The PCS aims at an improved control of small batch part manufacturing systems, enabling both a more flexible use of resources and a decrease in the economical batch size. For this, the PCS integrates various control functions such as scheduling, dispatching, workstation control and monitoring, whilst being connected on-line to the production equipment on the shop floor. The PCS can be applied irrespective of the level of automation on the shop floor. The control network is an essential part of the PCS, as it provides a real-time connection between the different modules (computers) of the PCS, which are geographically distributed over the shop floor. An overview of the requirements of such a control network is given. The description of the design includes the services developed, the protocols used and the physical layout of the network. A prototype of the PCS, including the control network, has been installed and tested in a pilot plant. The control network has proven that it can supply a manufacturing environment, consisting of equipment from different vendors with different levels of automation, with a reliable, low cost, real-time communication facility.
Tiemersma, J. J., Curtis, W., & Kals, H. J. J. (1993). Communication and control in small batch part manufacturing. Robotics and computer-integrated manufacturing, 10(1-2), 123-129. https://doi.org/10.1016/0736-5845(93)90034-H