Reconfigurable Hardware-Based Simulation Modeling of Flexible Manufacturing Systems
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This dissertation research explores a reconfigurable hardware-based parallel simulation mechanism that can dramatically improve the speed of simulating the operations of flexible manufacturing systems (FMS). Here reconfigurable hardware-based simulation refers to running simulation on a reconfigurable hardware platform, realized by Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). The hardware model, also called simulator, is specifically designed for mimicking a small desktop FMS. It is composed of several micro-emulators, which are capable of mimicking operations of equipment in FMS, such as machine centers, transporters, and load/unload stations. To design possible architectures for the simulator, a mapping technology is applied using the physical layout information of an FMS. Under such a mapping method, the simulation model is decomposed into a cluster of micro emulators on the board where each machine center is represented by one micro emulator. To exploit the advantage of massive parallelism, a kind of star network architecture is proposed, with the robot sitting at the center. As a pilot effort, a prototype simulator has been successfully built. A new simulation modeling technology named synchronous real-time simulation (SRS) is proposed. Instead of running conventional programs on a microprocessor, this new technology adopts several concepts from electronic area, such as using electronic signals to mimic the behavior of entities and using specifically designed circuits to mimic system resources. Besides, a time-scaling simulation method is employed. The method uses an on-board global clock to synchronize all activities performed on different emulators, and by this way tremendous overhead on synchronization can be avoided. Experiments on the prototype simulator demonstrate the validity of the new modeling technology, and also show that tremendous speedup compared to conventional software-based simulation methods can be achieved.
- Doctoral Dissertations