Hierarchy in distributed shop floor control

Luc Bongaerts, László Monostori, Duncan McFarlane, Botond Kádár

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

111 Citations (Scopus)


This discussion paper examines the role of hierarchy within the domain of shop floor control in manufacturing plants. Specifically, three distinct structures for shop floor control are considered, namely, hierarchical, heterarchical and holonic control systems. Holonic manufacturing is a novel paradigm for manufacturing that tries to merge the best properties of both hierarchical and heterarchical systems, namely, a high and predictable performance with a high robustness against disturbances. The paper identifies the concept of hierarchy in distributed shop floor control as one of the key contributions of holonic manufacturing. In a holonic architecture, the mapping of functions to control units remains flexible, such that decision power can be distributed over these units as needed. Based on the invariants concept of computer science, a modelling framework is proposed to identify the decision making needs of each unit. It can be used not only to describe the behaviour of the system, but also to impose performance and operational guarantees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-137
Number of pages15
JournalComputers in Industry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)

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