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Intelligent Software Agents

and Applications to Collaborative Design and Manufacturing


Weiming Shen


Agent technology represents a new paradigm for developing software applications. It has been hailed as the next significant breakthrough in software developments and the new revolution in software after the object technology. Recently, a growing number of researchers and practitioners have been trying to apply agent technology in the areas of collaborative design and manufacturing. An agent can be defined as a software system that communicates and cooperates with other software systems to solve a complex problem that is beyond the capability of each individual software system. Intelligent software agents can be used to encapsulate existing software systems so as to resolve legacy problems and realize manufacturing enterprise integration and collaboration; represent manufacturing resources such as operators, cells, machines, robots, as well as products and parts to implement distributed real time manufacturing process planning, scheduling and execution control. This presentation will briefly introduce the concepts of agents and multi-agent systems; discuss the benefits and key issues in implementing agent-based collaborative design and manufacturing systems; and present some sample applications.

Reference: Shen W., Norrie, D.H. and Barthes, J.P. Multi-Agent Systems for Concurrent Intelligent Design and Manufacturing, Taylor and Francis, London, UK, 2001 (



Short bio of Weiming Shen


Dr. Weiming Shen is a Senior Research Scientist at the National Research Council Canada's Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Institute (NRC-IMTI). He is an Adjunct Full Professor at the University of Waterloo and an Adjunct Research Professor at the University of Western Ontario. He received his Bachelor (1983) and Master's (1986) degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Northern Jiaotong University, China and his PhD degree (1996) in Information Engineering from the University of Technology of Compiegne, France. He has been working on intelligent agents and their applications to collaborative engineering design, intelligent manufacturing, and enterprise collaboration for 12+ years. He has published one book and 170+ papers in scientific journals and international conferences/workshops, and co-edited 10 conference/workshop proceedings in the related areas. His book titled "Multi-Agent Systems for Concurrent Intelligent Design and Manufacturing" was based on his many years first-hand experience. It was the first and is still the only book in the world systematically describing the agent technology for engineering design and manufacturing. The book has already been used and cited by many researchers and students over the world. After the publication of this book, he has been invited to provide 30+ invited lectures/seminars at different academic and research institutions (in Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Italy, Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and USA) and keynote presentations/tutorials at various international conferences. He is an Associate Editor or Editorial Board Member of six international journals and served as guest editor for six other international journals. He has been Program Committee Co-Chair of the CSCWD conferences since 2001 and has served as Chair/Co-Chair or Program Committee member for 40+ international conferences/workshops during the past 6 years. He is a Senior Member of IEEE and a member of ASME, ACM, AAAI, and CSCSI. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Ontario.


Dr. Weiming Shen

Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Institute, National Research Council Canada

Phone: (519) 430-7134, Fax: (519) 430-7064, E-mail: