In recent years, the automotive industry has been significantly affected by a number of challenges
driven by globalisation, economic fluctuations, environmental awareness and rapid technological developments.
As a consequence, product lifecycles are shortening and customer demands are becoming
more diverse. To survive in such a business environment, manufacturers are striving to find a costeffective
solution for fast and efficient development and reconfiguration of manufacturing systems to
satisfy the needs of changing markets without losses in production.
Production systems within automotive industry are vastly automated and heavily rely on PLC-based
control systems. It has been established that one of the major obstacles in realising reconfigurable
manufacturing systems is the fragmented engineering approach to implement control systems. Control
engineering starts at a very late stage in the overall system engineering process and remains highly
isolated from the mechanical design and build of the system. During this stage, control code is typically
written manually in vendor-specific tools in a combination of IEC 61131-3 languages. Writing
control code is a complex, time consuming and error-prone process. [Continues.]
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.