Title

Blackboard Agents for Mixed Initiative Management of Integrated Process-Planning/Production-Scheduling Solutions Across the Supply Chain

Date of Original Version

1998

Type

Working Paper

Rights Management

All Rights Reserved

Abstract or Description

As companies increasingly customize their products, move towards smaller lot production and experiment with more flexible customer/supplier arrangements, they increasingly require the ability to respond quickly, accurately and competitively to customer requests for bids on new products and efficiently work out supplier/subcontractor arrangements for these new products. This in turn requires the ability to rapidly convert standard-based product specifications into process plans and quickly integrate new orders with their process plans into existing production schedules across the supply chain. This paper describes IP3S, a blackboard-based agent for supporting integrated process planning/production scheduling across the supply chain. IP3S agents support concurrent development and dynamic revision of integrated process-planning/productionscheduling solutions across the supply chain, maintenance of multiple problem instances and solutions across the supply chain, flexible user-oriented decision making, declarative representation of control information, the use of a common representation for exchanging information, coordination with other planning/scheduling agents and information sources, and ease of integration with legacy systems. The IP3S agent has been customized for and validated in the context of a large and highly dynamicmachine shop at Raytheon’s Andover manufacturing facility. Empirical results show an average performance improvement of 23% in solution quality over a decoupled approach to building process-planning/production-scheduling solutions.