Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Gerald Graves


This research addresses the use of a knowledge-based interface to provide the communication service of message translation. The focus of this research is on the technical feasibility of using a knowledge-based design to perform this service for programmable devices on the shop-floor. The uniqueness of this approach is in the use of a knowledge-based design for the software interface. This method of implementation is different from the procedural programming approach used in today's custom interfaces. This research asserts that use of a knowledge-based design will result in an interface system that is easier to construct and maintain than an interface based on the procedural programming. Based on the proposed design, a prototype knowledge-based interface was developed. This prototype was successfully applied in four different applications. Each of these applications involved the translation of messages between the Manufacturing Message Format Standard (MMFS) messaging language and one of four device-specific languages selected for study. These languages represent devices of the type: programmable logic controllers, robots, and NC machines. The capability of the system to provide the translation service was demonstrated using simulated messaging for each device. The system was also adapted for connection with a robot. The resulting design of the interface revealed that the system does impose several restrictions on the messaging languages. These restrictions are expressed in the form of rules which specify if a messaging language is appropriate for use with the system. The requirements and limitations of the design were identified based on the adaptation of the system to each of the different languages. The benefits of the system and recommendations for future work are presented.