Automated generation of a Petri net model: application to an end of life manufacturing process

As the complexity of engineering systems and processes increases, determining their optimal performance also becomes increasingly complex. There are various reliability techniques available to model performance, for example fault trees, simulation etc., but generating the models can become a significant task that is cumbersome, error-prone and tedious. This can result in significant resources being devoted to the generation of the models and there is much room for error. Hence over the years work has been undertaken into automatically generating reliability models. Such an approach enables the detection of the most critical components and design errors at an early design stage, supporting alternative designs and systems. The aim of the research described in this paper is the automatic generation of a Petri Net model for a given system or process. The Petri Net approach enables complex systems and processes to be modelled using a modular approach. The methodology of the automated Petri Net generation outlined in this work is to extract the information required for the model from the system description in a form used by industry, such as a UML Activity Diagram, into a database using XML transformations. An algorithm is then applied to generate the Petri Net incidence matrices of the necessary nets, which is the mathematical representation of the model. The algorithm builds the nets up in a modular fashion enabling changes to be made to the overall net in a cost effective way hence allowing various designs to be easily assessed. In this work the procedure will be demonstrated by its application to an end of life manufacturing process.