The introduction of flexible manufacturing systems entails a variety of planning and control problems, which have proved resistant to exact solutions. A typical system should be capable of selecting appropriate type of tools, locate the best tool among various plausible solutions, and provide strategic recommendation to the tool crib. In a manufacturing system, cutting tools are mostly selected on the basis of manufacturing knowledge with respect to functionality and geometry. To some extent, tool selection is a mapping process. The objective is to find a feasible tool from the tool library, which would geometrically satisfy the cutting feature requirement and functionally be able to execute the machining cycle. An optimal selection is necessary, in case of more than one feasible tool.
In this paper, a comprehensive expert system design is presented for all problem - solving aspects of tool selection for turning operations. The problem of tool selection has been attempted as a two phase problem. All tools that meet the requirements of the operation are listed in the first phase. The selection of the optimal tool for each operation is then decided in the second phase with the overall optimization strategy. The steps in the first stage, are realized by a non-algorithmic expert system technique. In the second phase a decision hierarchy is constructed based on different criteria, and the list of feasible tools from the first phase ranked, using the analytical hierarchy process for integrating both qualitative and quantitative factors as discrete elements in systematically finding the best tool.