Xu, Zhijie, Zhao, Z. X. and Baines, R. W. (1999) Rapid Modelling Virtual Environment for Manufacturing Simulation. In: Advances in Manufacturing Technology XIII: Proceedings of the Fifteenth National Conference on Manufacturing Research, University of Bath, UK, 6-8 September 1999. Professional Engineering Publishers, Bath, UK, pp. 131-135. ISBN 9781860582271

This paper reports a method of modelling virtual manufacturing environments to support their rapid construction for knowledge representation, acquisition, and shop-floor simulation. As an example, a virtual workshop is constructed to include a lathe, a milling machine, and two robots. A generic framework is designed in a layered structure to enable knowledge acquisition and information management for manufacturing planning within the workshop. The virtual equipment included in the framework is developed with autonomy, reactivity and “social” abilities. This method has provided an easy but effective communication link between the virtual workshop and the physical workshop in terms of part movement, part loading and unloading, machining operations, and inspection. The framework also provides programming protocols and data links from and to a local and remote database to manage and visualise manufacturing data and process planning information.