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We present an agent-based approach to the control of flexible production systems. This approach flexibly adapts to changing production conditions and is suitable for high volume production. In this approach, workpiece agents auction off their current task, while machine agents bid for tasks. When awarding a machine, a workpiece agent takes into account not only the machine's current workload, but also the workpieces leaving the machine. If a machine's outgoing stream is blocked, the machine agent eventually ceases to accept new workpieces, thus blocking its input stream as well. As a result, a capacity bottleneck is automatically propagated in the opposite direction of the material flow. A unique feature of this mechanism is that it does not pre-suppose any specific material flow; the current capacity bottleneck is always propagated in the opposite direction of the actual flow, no matter how this flow looks like. Daimler Chrysler has evaluated the new control approach as a bypass to an existing manufacturing line. A suite of performance tests demonstrated the industrial feasibility and benefits of the approach.