University of Oulu

Helaakoski, Heli (2007) Adopting agent technology in information sharing and networking. VTT Publications 671. URI:

Adopting agent technology in information sharing and networking

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Author: Helaakoski, Heli1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Department of Electrical and Information Engineering
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Language: English
Published: Espoo : VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 2007
Publish Date: 2008-03-27
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented, with the assent of the Faculty of Technology of the University of Oulu, for public defence in Auditorium TS101, Linnanmaa, on April 4th, 2008, at 12 noon.
Opponent: Professor Michael Luck
Professor Martti Mäntylä
Kustos: Professor Juha Röning


The thesis is concerned with the adoption of agent technology in information sharing and networking. Companies are networking with changing partners, and information sharing among enterprises with heterogeneous system environments is increasing all the time. Since the types and sizes of the networked companies vary, flexible and effective information sharing systems are needed. Networking systems have to conform to the requirements of different information technology structures and different information representation formats. Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular need flexible and effective networking solutions.

The thesis reviews the use of agent-based applications in industrial environments, and especially in the area of supply chain management. Agents are autonomous, problem-solving computational entities capable of effective operation in dynamic and open environments, and they are therefore able to provide a suitable solution for complex process management among networked companies. The thesis proposes the agent-based system called SteelNet as a networking system for a business network. The area of application of the SteelNet system is supply chain management in a real-world business network. The design and implementation of an agent-based system for a case business network is described.

The aim of the research was to consider the adoption of agents for supply chain management in collaborative enterprises as compared with other approaches. The system described here was designed, implemented and tested in a real-life case, a business network in northern Finland. The SteelNet agent-based solution consisted of collaborative task-specific agents representing companies and various activities in the business network. The basis of agent communication and collaboration is domain ontology, which describes the concepts of the area of application. The SteelNet system is built up on a JADE agent platform.

The result of this research is a SteelNet agent-based system which provides information sharing and networking properties in a business network. The domain of the research is supply chain management and the SteelNet prototype applications are focused on this field. The prototype applications concern procurement process and manufacturing process follow-up in a business network. The agent-based design of the SteelNet also enables it use in other areas of application, requiring only the definition of new task-specific agents and a new domain ontology.

The SteelNet system enables flexible and effective information sharing among different types of companies, such flexibility being required especially by small and medium-sized enterprises. The system provides different integration levels for companies — integration into the company’s own systems or use via web pages. This is required on account of the dynamic nature of a business network. The graphical appearance of the system is clear and easy to use.

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Series: VTT Publications
ISSN: 1235-0621
ISSN-E: 1455-0849
ISSN-L: 1235-0621
ISBN: 978-951-38-7074-4
ISBN Print: 978-951-38-7073-7
Issue: 671