The organization of production is getting more and more complex. This problem is today being tackled by dividing large systems in many small ones and letting these act relatively autonomous-ly. Their mutual interdependencies, however, remain. This is why planning and controlling manufacturing systems will in the future be a matter of getting autonomous subsystems to cooperate more or less voluntarily. I will suggest to leave this to the laws of the market, also within the shop. As we all know, they work quite well outside a manufacturing company's borders. Ways of how this can be implemented for manu-facturing systems are currently under research. One approach used to this end is the agent theo-ry, since it is not only suitable as a modelling and simulation tool for research aims, but also as a basis for the construction of software tools which are able to support distributed manu-facturing processes. This paper presents first efforts and results of a current research project which is funded by the German National Science Foundation (DFG).
Volker Ahrens was born in 1963 in Bremen, Germany. He finished the University of Hanover with the degree of a Diplom-Engineer in 1989. After his alternative national service he started working as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Production Systems (IFA). Research in plant planning with particular emphasis given to mo-delling and simulation of complex production systems. Among other things he is the leader of a VDI working group which achieves the third part of the VDI-guideline 3633 ,simulation of systems in materials handling, logistics and pro-duction". Moreover he is member of ASIM. Contemporary research interests include distri-buted artificial intelligence methods, system theory, economics and chaos theory. For more details see WorldWideWeb pages http://www.ifa.uni-hannover.de