Seamless computer-based knowledge sharing between departments of a manufacturing enterprise is useful in preventing unnecessary design revisions. A lack of interoperability between independently developed knowledge bases, however, is a major impediment in the development of a seamless knowledge sharing system. Interoperability, being an ability to overcome semantic and syntactic differences during computer-based knowledge sharing can be enhanced through the use of ontologies. Ontologies in computer science terms are hierarchical structures of knowledge stored in a computer-based knowledge base. Ontologies have been accepted by all as an interoperable medium to provide a non-subjective way of storing and sharing knowledge across diverse domains. Some semantic and syntactic differences, however, still crop up when these ontological knowledge bases are developed independently. A case study in an aerospace components manufacturing company suggests that shape features of a component are perceived differently by the designing and manufacturing departments. These differences cause further misunderstanding and misinterpretation when computer-based knowledge sharing systems are used across the two domains. Foundation or core ontologies can be used to overcome these differences and to ensure a seamless sharing of knowledge. This is because these ontologies provide a common grounding for domain ontologies to be used by individual domains or department. This common grounding can be used by the mediation and knowledge verification systems to authenticate the meaning of knowledge understood across different domains. For this reason, this research proposes a knowledge verification framework for developing a system capable of verifying knowledge between those domain ontologies which are developed out of a common core or foundation ontology. This framework makes use of ontology logic to standardize the way concepts from a foundation and core-concepts ontology are used in domain ontologies and then by using the same principles the knowledge being shared is verified. The Knowledge Frame Language which is based on Common Logic is used for formalizing example ontologies. The ontology editor used for browsing and querying ontologies is the Integrated Ontology Development Environment (IODE) by Highfleet Inc. An ontological product modelling technique is also developed in this research, to test the proposed framework in the scenario of manufacturability analysis. The proposed framework is then validated through a Java API specially developed for this purpose. Real industrial examples experienced during the case study are used for validation.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.