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Automation systems become more and more complex, and their traditional hierarchical and centralized control may not be able to deal with this ever-increasing complexity satisfactorily. Decentralized approaches are considered promising, but they are not yet sufficiently understood for widespread industrial application. In particular, agent-based control has not yet achieved its potential, so that more research is still required. Our approach is based on the concept of an automation agent composed of a hardware (HW) component and a software (SW) component, where the HW component can be viewed as an embodiment of this SW component. These agents represent the parts of a flexible automation system. In particular, we propose that each such agent has an explicit symbolic representation of itself and of its relations to its environment. More precisely, this new agent architecture contains a reflective world model that includes a representation of this same agent and of its relations to its environment. In addition, the world model contains representations of situations and activities. We show that and how such a self-representation can be used for self-configuration, as well as monitoring, including failure detection in automation systems. The agent performs this self-configuration without any human intervention and just based on a brief specification of the HW configuration. The monitoring is based on automatically raised expectations for the system's behavior and allows failure detection without any specific failure detection code.