Agent Technology for Communication Infrastructures

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A special type of agent called User Communication Agent is described. The communication with users is enacted through dynamically generated XForms-based questionnaires integrated with the user interface of the SCI. Although security and trust aspects are important part of both secure agents and SCI, we concentrate more on integration aspects between these two systems. Article :. DOI: Provide the optimal value for your environment.

In all cases, the port must be specified as part of the property because no default is inferred. For example:. To use a direct TCP connection, specify either of the following formats. This configuration allows communication to pass through firewalls that only permit HTTP traffic.

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You can configure agents to send information using tunneling technology, enabling agents to connect to an Enterprise Manager remotely. In this case, you must configure the agent to connect to the Enterprise Manager embedded web server, where the HTTP tunneling web service is hosted. The default port value is This configuration is necessary for a forwarding proxy server.

The proxy server configuration properties apply only if the agent is configured to tunnel over HTTP. The proxy server configuration applies to any configured HTTP tunneled connection on the agent, not to a single connection. This configuration is especially important to consider when configuring failover between multiple Enterprise Managers, where the connection to each Enterprise Manager is over HTTP. You can specify an absolute path or a path relative to the Infrastructure Agent IntroscopeAgent.

The demands on database management systems for manufacturing are severe and will require a major research effort. The demands that manufacturing makes on the user interface are particularly severe and present an opportunity for some creative research and development.

Agent Technology for Communication Infrastructures : Alex L. G. Hayzelden :

The following two problems illustrate the type of work that is needed. The first is the need to incorporate modeling and prototyping functions into the user interface.

In particular, the basic syntax and semantics that describe products and processes will have to be incorporated in the data manipulation language of the database system. In short, the product and process description language should be a sublanguage of the data manipulation language. Current data manipulation languages were developed to serve the financial community; they handle well financial and other types of data that can easily be cast into the relational model.

Unfortunately, many manufacturing data types, especially geometric ones, are associative. Consequently, using current data manipulation languages for manufacturing data is counter-intuitive and difficult. To fill this gap, research is needed to develop the next generation of data manipulation language, perhaps based on the object-oriented data model. A second major problem is how to maintain data consistency and integrity as a database undergoes constant updates.

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The problem is acute for both design and processing phases of manufacturing. During the design phase, the database must serve not only as the primary repository of ongoing work but also as the principal medium of communication among the participants who may be using simulation, analysis, and design tools, as well as.

Any disparity in the copies of the database seen by different users as changes are made will wreak havoc. The problem of consistency is also paramount in the processing phase, if real-time control of the process is to be achieved. Here the performance i. Autonomous agents implemented as software objects or collections of objects are attractive for manufacturing applications in the areas of planning, monitoring, and control.

One view is that autonomous agents, programmed by end users, could monitor production activities and respond to events with such actions as shutting down a machine, starting up a program, or sending a message to another agent. Another perspective refers to knowledge agents consisting of services and tools that could enable consistent, enterprise-wide management of models, names, objects, semantics, object relationships, object messaging, transactions, syntax translations, protocols, and business rules.

The promise of autonomous agents underscores the need for research to develop better architectures for manufacturing systems involving distributed intelligence generally. Distributed intelligence is fundamental to flexible, adaptive systems. Depending on the architecture, a centralized knowledge base and planner could make decisions and plans to be sent to resources within a manufacturing cell reflecting conventional management hierarchies or each resource machine tool, vision system, tool, human being could maintain its own intelligence about its capabilities and a global view of the environment.

Research is needed to develop tools to find information such as autonomous agents , tools to distribute information, and stable sets of rules for interacting agents rules for agent behavior.

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  5. Research is also needed to develop agents that can act on an understanding of both global and local goals. The level of autonomy—complete autonomy, consensus negotiation , or command-driven autonomy—is a critical consideration. Existing systems have focused on either command-driven or consensus-based autonomy. By contrast, dynamic variations of autonomy could provide a more adaptive system in terms of process, resource, product, and temporal requirements. Research is needed to enable dynamic variations in the level of autonomy.

    Enterprise and inter-enterprise integration combines the methodologies and tools e.


    Within an enterprise, the goal has been to achieve linkages among design, production, marketing, finance, sales, human resources, distribution, and top management. A related goal is enterprise logistics management, from the pull of customer orders back through the entire manufacturing and supply chain. Implicit is the shift from a functional to a business process perspective.

    Enterprise integration requires research and development relating to the interconnection of applications.

    1 Agent Technology for Communications Infrastructure : An Introduction

    Research is needed on organizing principles and architectures for coupling different network-based applications into a seamless environment. Such coupling is necessary, for example, to link flexible manufacturing cells to the plant scheduling function and to link the scheduling function to the enterprise order, delivery, and financial systems. Enterprise integration also implies a need for research to enable the automatic interpretation of the type of transaction being executed, the routing of the message to the right location for processing, and the processing that must occur when the message for the transaction reaches the correct system.

    Current shop floor local-area networks include a dizzying array of communication technologies such as media, connectors, and protocols. Although there have been distinct differences between local-area and wide-area networks and their respective data, the demand for widespread concurrent engineering and general corporate infrastructure integration will require that many of these differences be resolved. This proliferation of communication technologies not only prevents needed communication, but also raises maintenance costs.

    Research is needed to support a mix of protocols e. Research is needed to support time-critical communications systems, which are commonly used to control large-scale manufacturing processes.

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    Time-critical communications are now generally transmitted on proprietary systems that assure timely delivery by restricting the type and number of messages carried. There is increasing demand for the ability to transmit control messages on existing open communications networks. Thus research is needed to formulate the principles for construction and operation of networks that support time-critical message delivery in a context of interconnecting, multipurpose networks.

    No one knows how to do this because the requirements for such a system are not well characterized. In addition, research relating to data compression will continue to be important. These essential services should become part of the underlying network service infrastructure in order to increase network performance and efficiency. The higher-level network directory services of today will not meet the requirements of near-future applications. Increasingly, manufacturing organizations will be coupled to their suppliers, customers, and other partners via electronic threads; 12 this is the essence of inter-enterprise integration.

    At present, much of material-related production cost stems from the packaging, shipping, unpacking, and moving around of component materials. The supplier would deliver the material directly to the factory floor, where receiving activities are performed. Both of these transactions could be associated with the electronic communication of financial information and even electronic funds transfers, involving corporate-level systems and systems at third-party financial institutions. The interconnection of supplier and customer enterprises implies a need for research to support supply-chain dynamics, including data acquisition through distributed systems.

    In addition, tools and techniques are needed to enable manufacturers to plan on a real-time basis back through the entire supply chain. This level of analysis is generally impossible today; given the typical operation of manufacturing resource planning systems, it can take weeks. Mechanisms and systems are required to support information session management.

    These include the means for connecting to and coordinating the delivery of information between multiple sources using multiple streams, as well as the mechanisms for collaboration with this information. These needs are above and beyond the transaction-based processing and management that will clearly be required.

    In view of the experiences of the major manufacturers represented by members of the committee and those who briefed the committee, the current state of the art in software engineering is barely adequate to meet current manufacturing needs.

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    Several companies have invested many thousands of person-hours in developing and integrating factory information systems, a disproportionately large investment in comparison with their investment in other parts of the factory system. Large-scale systems for manufacturing present special problems, since they are often one of a kind, are developed by teams with relatively limited experience in exactly the kind of system needed, and generally entail very high life-cycle costs.

    Customizing of general applications to specific customer needs and. In the 21st century vision of manufacturing, trained manufacturing personnel, rather than software development experts, would be able to develop and change application systems for the shop floor or the design laboratory. This capability means that both better methods of developing software and better human-machine interfaces are required to enable domain-specific software specification. Research is needed to support faster development of easier-to-use and more effective systems. Simplification of designs, operation, and maintenance is desired, as is increased predictability of systems, self-healing systems, and system extensibility.

    Visualization and human-computer interaction techniques will be key. The need to accommodate new programming paradigms also should drive research. For example, the current emphasis on object-oriented programming see Appendix A suggests a variety of research topics; there also should be consideration of inevitable new approaches to programming. Automating complex, intelligent manufacturing systems requires both engineering life-cycle approaches and supporting tools.

    Tools are needed for system analysis, requirement management, design, configuration and integration, and simulation. Software engineering tool development lags significantly behind the use of new methodologies in many cases, raising the cost of building large, complex manufacturing systems. For example, better tools are needed to support component-based architecture life-cycle approaches.

    Also needed are more general tools that are not constrained by the limitations of specific programming languages, as well as tools that have aspects of knowledge-based collaboration software.