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Degeneracy and networked buffering: principles for supporting emergent evolvability in agile manufacturing systems

Degeneracy and networked buffering: principles for supporting emergent evolvability in agile manufacturing systems
Degeneracy and networked buffering: principles for supporting emergent evolvability in agile manufacturing systems
This article introduces new principles for improving upon the design and implementation of agile manufacturing and assembly systems. It focuses particularly on challenges that arise when dealing with novel conditions and the associated requirements of system evolvability, e.g. seamless reconfigurability to cope with changing production orders, robustness to failures and disturbances, and modifiable user-centric interfaces. Because novelty in manufacturing or the marketplace is only predictable to a limited degree, the flexible mechanisms that will permit a system to adequately respond to novelty cannot be entirely pre-specified. As a solution to this challenge, we propose how evolvability can become a pervasive property of the assembly system that, while constrained by the system’s historical development and domain-specific requirements, can emerge and re-emerge without foresight or planning. We first describe an important mechanism by which biological systems can cope with uncertainty through properties described as degeneracy and networked buffering. We discuss what degeneracy means, how it supports a system facing unexpected challenges, and we review evidence from simulations using evolutionary algorithms that support some of our conjectures in models with similarities to several assembly system contexts. Finally, we discuss potential design strategies for encouraging emergent changeability in assembly systems. We also discuss practical challenges to the realization of these concepts within a systems engineering context, especially issues related to system transparency, design costs, and efficiency. We discuss how some of these difficulties can be overcome while also elaborating on those factors that are likely to limit the applicability of these principles.
1567-7818
417-430
Frei, Regina
fa00170f-356a-4a0d-8030-d137fd855880
Whitacre, James
afcd3d6a-c9a7-4f40-8c1c-952b0b49e7da
Frei, Regina
fa00170f-356a-4a0d-8030-d137fd855880
Whitacre, James
afcd3d6a-c9a7-4f40-8c1c-952b0b49e7da

Frei, Regina and Whitacre, James (2012) Degeneracy and networked buffering: principles for supporting emergent evolvability in agile manufacturing systems. Natural Computing, 11 (3), 417-430. (doi:10.1007/s11047-011-9295-4).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This article introduces new principles for improving upon the design and implementation of agile manufacturing and assembly systems. It focuses particularly on challenges that arise when dealing with novel conditions and the associated requirements of system evolvability, e.g. seamless reconfigurability to cope with changing production orders, robustness to failures and disturbances, and modifiable user-centric interfaces. Because novelty in manufacturing or the marketplace is only predictable to a limited degree, the flexible mechanisms that will permit a system to adequately respond to novelty cannot be entirely pre-specified. As a solution to this challenge, we propose how evolvability can become a pervasive property of the assembly system that, while constrained by the system’s historical development and domain-specific requirements, can emerge and re-emerge without foresight or planning. We first describe an important mechanism by which biological systems can cope with uncertainty through properties described as degeneracy and networked buffering. We discuss what degeneracy means, how it supports a system facing unexpected challenges, and we review evidence from simulations using evolutionary algorithms that support some of our conjectures in models with similarities to several assembly system contexts. Finally, we discuss potential design strategies for encouraging emergent changeability in assembly systems. We also discuss practical challenges to the realization of these concepts within a systems engineering context, especially issues related to system transparency, design costs, and efficiency. We discuss how some of these difficulties can be overcome while also elaborating on those factors that are likely to limit the applicability of these principles.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 5 November 2011
Published date: 1 September 2012

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 433041
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/433041
ISSN: 1567-7818
PURE UUID: 4602559a-66eb-4e6a-836d-33c8e543bdf0
ORCID for Regina Frei: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-0953-6413

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 07 Aug 2019 16:30
Last modified: 03 Dec 2019 01:21

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Contributors

Author: Regina Frei ORCID iD
Author: James Whitacre

University divisions

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