Petri nets (PNs) have recently emerged as a promising approach for modelling flexible and automated manufacturing systems. PNs are a graphical and mathematical modelling technique that is useful for modelling concurrent, asynchronous, distributed, parallel, nondeterministic, and stochastic systems, as attested by a steady stream of papers which appeared throughout the 1980s. Since 1989, there has ... [Show full abstract] been an explosion of interest in using PNs to model, simulate, and analyse manufacturing systems. We present an overview of PN theory. We then present a schema for categorizing PN models of manufacturing systems, followed by a survey of PN models of flow lines, automatic transfer lines, job shops, flexible manufacturing systems, and assembly systems. This discussion represents the most comprehensive survey of applications of PNs to manufacturing through 1994. Finally, we present a summary and some conclusions.