Applying agent technology to constructing flexible monitoring systems in process automation

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The dissertation studies the application of agent technology to process automation monitoring and other domain specific functions. Motivation for the research work derives from the development of industrial production and process automation, and thereby the work load of operating personnel in charge of these large-scale processes has become more complex and difficult to handle. At the same time, the information technology infrastructure in process automation domain has developed ready to accept and utilise novel software engineering solutions. Agent technology is a new programming paradigm which has attractive properties like autonomy, flexibility and a possibility to distribute functions. In addition, agent technology offers a systematic methodology for designing goal based operations. This enables parts of the monitoring tasks to be delegated to the system. In this research, new agent system architecture is introduced. The architecture specifies a structure that enables the use of agents in the process monitoring domain. In addition, an introductory internal layered design of an agent aiming to combine Semantic Web and agent technologies is presented. The developed agent architecture is used in conjunction with the systematic agent design methodology to construct and implement four test cases. Each case has industrially motivated interest and illustrates various aspects of monitoring functionalities. These tests provide evidence that by utilising agent technology it is possible to develop new monitoring features for process operators, otherwise infeasible as such within current process automation systems. As a result of the research work, it can be stated that agent technology is a suited methodology to realise monitoring functionalities in process automation. It is also shown, that by applying solutions gained from the agent technology research, it is possible to define an architecture that enables to utilise the properties offered by agents in process automation environment. The proposed agent architecture supports features that are of generic interest in monitoring tasks. The developed architecture and research findings provide ground to import novel software engineering solutions to process automation monitoring.
agent technology, process automation, process monitoring, software architecture
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