Section: Application Domains
Micro-factories are automated units designed to produce pieces composed of micro-metric elements. Today's micro-factories are composed of elementary modules or robots able to carry out basic operations. To perform more complex operations, few elementary modules may be grouped in a cell. The realization of one of these cells is still a scientific challenge but several research projects have already got significant results in this domain. These results show very promising functionalities like the ability to configure or reconfigure a cell, by changing a robot tool for instance. However, the set of operations carried out by a cell is still limited. The next generation of micro-factories will put several cells together and make them cooperate to produce complex assembled pieces, as we do for macroscopic productions. In this context, the cell control will evolve to become more cooperative and distributed.
Micro-factories may be modelled in a way that allows to reuse the results obtained in scheduling on heterogeneous platforms as Grids, in particular the results on steady-state scheduling. We develop scheduling strategies and algorithms adapted to this context and we optimize the deployment of cells based on the micro-product and the production specification. We are currently working on the evaluation and the adaptation of several scheduling algorithms in this context, taking small-to-medium batch of jobs into account.
At the micro-metric scale, the manipulation of the elements cannot be considered the same way as at macro-metric scale because the equilibrium of forces is modified. For instance, the electrostatic force becomes predominant on the gravity. This lead to uncontrolled behaviors and frequently generates faults. We are working on taking these faults into account into scheduling models and evaluating their performance depending on the fault characteristics.