Main Article Content
This paper reports an agent-based approach to develop a distributed process planning and scheduling system to allow geographically dispersed entities to work cooperatively towards the global goals. The system comprises several intelligent functional agents, each performing a specific task while accomplishing the global tasks through the corporation with other agents. For a schedule with an unsatisfactory performance measure, a facilitator agent is able to automatically generate instructions, which is fed back to the corresponding process planning agent (PPA) for updating the solution space. The PPA then employs an optimization algorithm to find a new optimal plan. This new plan, together with the unchanged plans, will come out a new schedule in the scheduling agent. The coordination process continues until a satisfactory process plans/schedule solution is derived. In this way, the schedule is improved while the process plans still possess high quality in terms of the process planning objective. To ensure effective coordination and communication for the involved agents, the system implementation employs the architecture based on a multi-tier application model and an agent development framework.