A conceptual framework for structuring a flexible manufacturing system (FMS) environment called an open automation architecture (OAA) is proposed. The framework is based on the open‐systems approach to information system development. OAA proposes partitioning of the manufacturing environment into autonomous manufacturing entities called logical manufacturing shops, that communicate and cooperate during the manufacturing of products. The partitioning in OAA is not based on the traditional structuring of machines on the shop floor. Each logical manufacturing shop is structured to provide for data and process integration within its processing domain, supported by a stable grouping of machines on the shop floor. The framework is illustrated with a manufacturing case and a discussion of information system support in the form of expert systems.
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