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Autonomous mobile materials handling platform architecture for mass customisation.

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In order to facilitate the materials handling requirements of production structures configured for Mass Customisation Manufacturing, the design of requisite materials handling and routing systems must encompass new conceptual properties. Materials handling and routing systems with the capacity to support higher-level management systems would allow for mediated task allocation and structured vertical integration of these systems into existing manufacturing execution and management systems. Thus, a global objective in designing a materials handling and routing system, for such production configurations. is to provide a flexible system mechanism with minimal policy on system usage. With the recent developments in mobile robot technologies, due to various advancements in embedded system, computational, and communication infrastructures, mobile robot platforms can be developed that are robust and reliable, with operating structures incorporating bounded autonomy. With the addition of materials handling hardware, autonomous agent architectures, structured communication protocols and robotic software systems, these mobile robot platforms can provide viable solution mechanisms in realising real-time flexible materials handling in production environments facilitating Mass Customisation Manufacturing. This dissertation covers the research and development of a materials handling and routing system implementation architecture, for production environments facilitating Mass Customisation Manufacturing. The materials handling and routing task environment in such production structures is characterised in order to provide a well defined problem space for research purposes. A physical instance of a functional subset of the architecture is constructed consisting of a semi-autonomous mobile robot platform equipped with the infrastructure for materials handling and routing task execution. The architecture orientates the mobile robot platform in such a way as to present a collection of functional units, integrated and configured for a range of applications, and prevents viewpoints in the sense of monolithic mobile robots less susceptible to reconfiguration and stochastic utilisation.


Thesis (M.Sc.Eng.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2008.


Materials handling., Mechanical handling., Plant engineering., Theses--Mechanical engineering.