Micro-Boss: A Micro-opportunistic Factory Scheduler
Date of Original Version
All Rights Reserved
Abstract or Description
In a global market economy, the need for cost-efficient production management techniques is becoming more critical every day. In contrast with this need, current production management practice is too often characterized by low levels of due date satisfaction, high levels of inventory and, more generally, a state of chaos, in which the computer systems that are used to provide managerial guidance do not accurately reflect the current state of affairs, as they rely on oversimplified and rigid models of the production environment. A major challenge for research in this area is to develop new production management techniques and tools that (1) can account more precisely for actual production management constraints and objectives, (2) are better suited for handling production contingencies, and (3) allow the user to interactively manipulate the production schedule to reflect idiosyncratic constraints and preferences not easily amenable to representation in the computer model. This paper describes Micro-Boss, a decision-support system for factory scheduling currently under development at Carnegie Mellon University. Micro-Boss aims at generating and maintaining high-quality realistic production schedules by combining powerful predictive, reactive and interactive scheduling capabilities. To this end, the system relies on so-called micro-opportunistic search techniques that enable the scheduling system to constantly revise its scheduling strategy during the construction or repair of a schedule. These techniques are shown to be more effective than less flexible scheduling techniques proposed in the Operations Research and Artificial Intelligence literature.