MASCOT: An Agent-based Architecture for Coordinated Mixed-Initiative Supply Chain Planning and Scheduling
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Abstract or Description
A key to agility in today’s dynamic high-mix production environments is the ability to (1) effectively coordinate production across multiple facilities, whether internal or external to the company, and (2) quickly and accurately evaluate new product/subcomponent designs and strategic business decisions (e.g., make-or-buy or supplier selection decisions) with regard to capacity and material requirements across the supply chain. This paper provides an overview of MASCOT (“Multi- Agent Supply Chain cOordination Tool”), a reconfigurable, multilevel, agent-based architecture for coordinated supply chain planning and scheduling aimed at supporting these functionalities. It reviews key innovative elements of the MASCOT architecture with a special emphasis on its support of real-time mixed-initiative “what-if ” functionalities, enabling end-users at different levels within the architecture to rapidly evaluate alternative tradeoffs and their respective impact across the supply chain. The paper also discusses new coordination protocols aimed at better exploiting the power of finite capacity scheduling functionalities across the supply chain. Empirical results are presented quantifying the benefits afforded by these new protocols under different loads and supply chain configurations.