Developing an agent‐based workflow management system for collaborative product design

Ching‐Jen Huang (Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, National Chinyi Institute of Technology, Taiping, Taiwan, Republic of China)
Amy J.C. Trappey (Department of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, National Tsing Hwa University, Hsinchu, Taiwan, Republic of China)
Yin‐Ho Yao (Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Ta Hwa Institute of Technology, Hsinchu, Taiwan, Republic of China)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Publication date: 1 June 2006



The purpose of this research is to develop a prototype of agent‐based intelligent workflow system for product design collaboration in a distributed network environment.


This research separates the collaborative workflow enactment mechanisms from the collaborative workflow building tools for flexible workflow management. Applying the XML/RDF (resource description framework) ontology schema, workflow logic is described in a standard representation. Lastly, a case study in collaborative system‐on‐chip (SoC) design is depicted to demonstrate the agent‐based workflow system for the design collaboration on the web.


Agent technology can overcome the difficulty of interoperability in cross‐platform, distributed environment with standard RDF data schema. Control and update of workflow functions become flexible and versatile by simply modifying agent reasoning and behaviors.

Research limitations/implications

When business partners want to collaborate, how to integrate agents in different workflows becomes a critical issues.

Practical implications

Agent technology can facilitate design cooperation and teamwork communication in a collaborative, transparent product development environment.


This research establishes generalized flow logic RDF models and an agent‐based intelligent workflow management system, called AWfMS, based on the RDF schema of workflow definition. AWfMS minimizes barriers in the distributed design process and hence increases design cooperations among partners.



Huang, C., Trappey, A. and Yao, Y. (2006), "Developing an agent‐based workflow management system for collaborative product design", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 106 No. 5, pp. 680-699.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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