Xu, Zhijie, Zhao, Z. X. and Baines, R. W. (1998) Management of Complex Virtual Manufacturing Environments for Manufacturing Applications. In: Advances in manufacturing technology XII: proceedings of the Fourteenth National Conference on Manufacturing Research, University of Derby, UK, 7-9 September 1998. Professional Engineering Publishers, Derby, UK. ISBN 1-86058-172-2

The construction and management of complex virtual reality (VR) environments is a bottleneck for applying virtual reality technology to manufacturing problems. Current bottom-up construction approaches are tedious and inflexible. This paper presents a variant approach to managing and constructing virtual manufacturing environments. The approach is established on the management of systematically stored virtual manufacturing environments. Each environment is associated with manufacturing tasks defined in the data base. Based on the approach, a virtual manufacturing environment management system is created. This system is currently developed as a framework for manufacturing knowledge acquisition. In the framework, the manufacturing knowledge stored in the knowledge base is represented and recognised within virtual worlds. A knowledge interpretation scheme is defined to determine the real world manufacturing facilities and processes data in terms of virtual world data format. The data can then be visualised into virtual manufacturing environments and used for manufacturing planning and control.

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