Research Papers

An Ontology for the Autonomous Reconfiguration of a Flexible Fixture Device

[+] Author and Article Information
Thomas Gmeiner

Virtual Product Development Group,
Institute of Product Development,
Technische Universität München,
Boltzmannstr. 15, 85748 Garching, Germany
e-mail: thomas.gmeiner@pe.mw.tum.de

Kristina Shea

Engineering Design and Computing Laboratory,
Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, ETH Zurich,
8092, Zurich, Switzerland
e-mail: kshea@ethz.ch

Single-acting vises have one fixed anvil and one moveable slide as opposed to centric or double-acting vises where both jaws are moved simultaneously.

Modular fixtures are fixture systems assembled from modular components, such as locators, pins, and clamps that are mounted on special platforms with slot or hole-patterns. Due to their modular structure these fixtures are very flexible but also labor intensive in assembly and cost intensive in acquisition.

The link between setup planning and fixture design is not part of this paper. However, some core concepts from the field of setup planning, like the concept Active Surface, are necessary for fixture planning. These are already considered in the FIXON ontology and will be reused.

Contributed by the Computers and Information Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF COMPUTING AND INFORMATION SCIENCE IN ENGINEERING. Manuscript received April 25, 2012; final manuscript received January 31, 2013; published online April 22, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Bahram Ravani.

J. Comput. Inf. Sci. Eng 13(2), 021003 (Apr 22, 2013) (11 pages) Paper No: JCISE-12-1067; doi: 10.1115/1.4023587 History: Received April 25, 2012; Revised January 31, 2013

The need for reconfigurable manufacturing systems has long been recognized as a key factor to gain the necessary flexibility for economical production of small batch sizes. Automation of the reconfiguration processes is a challenge both on the hardware and the software level. Addressing this issue in the field of fixture design, a new reconfigurable fixture device for a CNC milling machine has been developed. The developed vise contains interchangeable and customizable jaws enabling the secure fixture of a variety of workpiece geometries. To enable automated reconfiguration, a reasoning system is needed that can determine feasible fixture configurations based on the given workpiece and part as well as the available fixture components. In this paper, an ontology for representing fixture design and reconfiguration knowledge for vise-type flexible fixtures is presented. The ontology builds on and extends an existing ontology for modular fixture design. The creation of the ontology is based on a systematic building methodology, going from informal to formal concept definitions in a middle-out approach. The core concepts and relations of the ontology are presented and the ontology is validated both on the informal and on the formal level by its ability to find feasible fixture configurations, i.e., appropriate vise jaw pairs to fix example workpieces. The ontology can represent type-specific fixture designs in an unambiguous way and can hence serve as a basis for the development of applications needed to create an autonomous fixture design system.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME
Topics: Design , Ontologies
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Bi, Z., and Zhang, W., 2001, “Flexible Fixture Design and Automation: Review, Issues and Future Directions,” Int. J. Prod. Res., 39(13), pp. 2867–2894. [CrossRef]
Bannat, A., Bautze, T., Beetz, M., Blume, J., Diepold, K., Ertelt, C., Geiger, F., Gmeiner, T., Gyger, T., Knoll, A., Lau, C., Lenz, C., Ostgathe, M., Reinhart, G., Roesel, W., Ruehr, T., Schuboe, A., Shea, K., Stork genannt Wersborg, I., Stork, S., Tekouo, W., Wallhoff, F., Wiesbeck, M., and Zaeh, M. F., 2011, “Artificial Cognition in Production Systems,” IEEE Trans. Automation Sci. Eng., 8(1), pp. 148–174. [CrossRef]
Ertelt, C., Gmeiner, T., and Shea, K., 2009, “A Flexible Fixture and Reconfiguration Process for the Cognitive Machine Shop,” Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Changeable, Agile, Reconfigurable and Virtual Production (CARV 2009), pp. 112–120.
Shea, K., Ertelt, C., Gmeiner, T., and Ameri, F., 2010, “Design-to-Fabrication Automation for the Cognitive Machine Shop,” Adv. Eng. Informatics, 24(3), pp. 251–268. [CrossRef]
Pehlivan, S., and Summers, J., 2008, “A Review of Computer-Aided Fixture Design With Respect to Information Support Requirements,” Int. J. Prod. Res., 46(4), pp. 929–947. [CrossRef]
Ameri, F., and Summers, J. D., 2008, “An Ontology for Representation of Fixture Design Knowledge,” Computer Aided Design and Applications, 5(5), pp. 601–611.
Krishnakumar, K., and Melkote, S. N., 2000, “Machining Fixture Layout Optimization Using the Genetic Algorithm,” Int. J. Machine Tools and Manufacture, 40(4), pp. 579–598. [CrossRef]
Boyle, I., Rong, K., and Brown, D., 2006, “CAFixD: A Case-Based Reasoning Fixture Design Method. Framework and Indexing Mechanisms,” J. Comput. Information Sci. Eng., 6(1), p. 40. [CrossRef]
Brost, R., and Goldberg, K., 1994, “A Complete Algorithm For Synthesizing Modular Fixtures For Polygonal Parts,” Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pp. 535–542.
Kang, Y., Rong, Y., and Yang, J. A., 2003, “Geometric and Kinetic Model Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design Verification,” J. Comput. Information Sci. Eng., 3(3), pp. 187–199. [CrossRef]
Amaral, N., Rencis, J. J., and Rong, Y., 2005, “Development of a Finite Element Analysis Tool for Fixture Design Integrity Verification and Optimisation,” Int. J. Adv. Manuf. Technol., 25(5), pp. 409–419. [CrossRef]
Chou, Y. C., and Barash, M. M., 1986, “Computerized Fixture Design From Solid Models of Workpieces,” Proceedings of the Symposium on Integrated and Intelligent Manufacturing Systems, pp. 133–141.
Dong, X., DeVries, W., and Wozny, M., 1991, “Feature-Based Reasoning In Fixture Design,” CIRP Ann. Manufacturing Technol., 40(1), pp. 111–114. [CrossRef]
Subrahmanyam, S., 2002, “A Method for Generation of Machining and Fixturing Features From Design Features,” Computers in Industry, 47(3), pp. 269–287. [CrossRef]
Cecil, J., 2001, “Computer-Aided Fixture Design—A Review and Future Trends,” Int. J. Adv. Manuf. Technol., 18(11), pp. 790–793. [CrossRef]
Rong, Y., Huang, S., and Hou, Z., 2005, Advanced Computer-Aided Fixture Design, Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Etscheidt, K., 1997, Automatisierte Montage Modularer Spannvorrichtungen mit Industrierobotern, Shaker Aachen.
Asada, H., 1985, “Kinematic Analysis of Workpart Fixturing for Flexible Assembly With Automatically Reconfigurable Fixtures,” IEEE J. Robotics and Automation, 1(2), pp. 86–94.
Gaag, A., 2010, “Entwicklung einer Ontologie zur funktionsorientierten Lösungssuche in der Produktentwicklung,” Ph.D. dissertation, Technische Universität München, München.
Uschold, M., and Gruninger, M., 1996, “Ontologies: Principles, Methods and Applications,” Knowledge Eng. Rev., 11(02), pp. 93–136. [CrossRef]
Borst, W. N., 1997, “Construction of Engineering Ontologies for Knowledge Sharing and Reuse,” Ph.D. dissertation, Universiteit Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands.
Lemaignan, S., Siadat, A., Dantan, J. Y., and Semenenko, A., 2006, “MASON: A Proposal for An Ontology of Manufacturing Domain,” Proceedings of the Distributed Intelligent Systems: Collective Intelligence and Its Applications, IEEE Workshop on (DIS 2006), pp. 195–200.
Schlenoff, C., Ivester, R., and Knutilla, A., 1998, “A Robust Process Ontology for Manufacturing Systems Integration,” Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Engineering Design and Automation, pp. 7–14.
Lopez, O., and Lastra, M., 2006, “JL: Using Semantic Web Technologies to Describe Automation Objects,” Int. J. Manufacturing Res., 1(4), pp. 482–503. [CrossRef]
Vrba, P., Radakovič, M., Obitko, M., and Maøík, V., 2009, “Semantic Extension of Agent-Based Control: The Packing Cell Case Study,” Holonic and Multi-Agent Systems for Manufacturing, V.Marík, T.Strasser, and A.Zoitl, eds., Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, pp. 47–60.
Al-Safi, Y., and Vyatkin, V., 2007, “An Ontology-Based Reconfiguration Agent for Intelligent Mechatronic Systems,” Holonic and Multi-Agent Systems for Manufacturing, V.Marík, T.Strasser, and A.Zoitl, eds., Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, pp. 114–126.
Barata, J., Camarinha-Matos, L., and Cândido, G., 2008, “A Multiagent-Based Control System Applied to An Educational Shop Floor,” Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing, 24(5), pp. 597–605. [CrossRef]
Uschold, M., and Jasper, R., 1999, “A Framework for Understanding And Classifying Ontology Applications,” Proceedings of the 12th Workshop for Knowledge Acquisition, Modeling and Management (KAW’99).
Hunter, R., Rios, J., Perez, J., and Vizan, A., 2006, “A Functional Approach for the Formalization of the Fixture Design Process,” Int. J. Machine Tools and Manufacture, 46(6), pp. 683–697. [CrossRef]
Gruber, T. R., 1995, “Toward Principles for the Design of Ontologies Used for Knowledge Sharing,” Int. J. Human Comput. Studies, 43(5), pp. 907–928. [CrossRef]
Sure, Y., and Studer, R., 2002, “On-to-Knowledge Methodology—Final Version,” Institute AIFB, University of Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe.
Stuckenschmidt, H., 2009, Ontologien: Konzepte, Technologien und Anwendungen, Springer, Berlin.
Hoffman, E. G., 2004, Jig and Fixture Design, Thomson, Clifton Park.
Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research, 2011, “protégé,” http://protege.stanford.edu/
Horridge, M., Drummond, N., Goodwin, J., Rector, A., Stevens, R., and Wang, H. H., 2006, “The Manchester Owl Syntax,” OWL: Experiences and Directions, pp. 10–11.
Sirin, E., Parsia, B., Grau, B. C., Kalyanpur, A., and Katz, Y., 2007, “Pellet: A Practical OWL-DL Reasoner,” Web Semantics: Science, Services and Agents on the World Wide Web, 5(2), pp. 51–53. [CrossRef]


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

CAD model of FMS with CNC mill and lathe, conveyor system, handling robots and storage (top) and CAD model of the automatically reconfigurable vise (bottom)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Ontology building methodology, combination of meta process [31] and practical methods [20,32]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Ontology purpose: Represent domain knowledge and serve as basis for a computer-aided fixture design system that allows for autonomous fixture reconfiguration

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Example of an informal competency question with decomposition and rationale

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Informal concept hierarchy of the class jaw

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Concept diagram of the core concepts and relations of the fixture design ontology

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Shape-based queries created in Protégé and resulting instances of feasible jaws

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Dimension-based queries created in Protégé and resulting instances of feasible jaws

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

ID-based query created in Protégé and resulting instances of feasible jaws



Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In