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How will they be controlled?

n 1850, farm workers made up 65% of the United States work force. Now, farm workers constitute less than 4% of the work force. Yet, the United States now produces more food per capita than ever in its history. Many believe this same trend is now happening in manufacturing. At the industrial revolution’s peak, manufacturing workers made up 35% of the work force. Now manufacturing workers constitute less than 25% of the work force. As automation reduces manufacturing jobs, new service industry jobs are being created. These trends do not mean an end to U S . manufacturing any more than the industrial revolution meant an end to U.S. agricultural production. They do mean an end to manufacturing as we have known it. Gradually, manufacturing personnel will be fewer and more sophisticated, while manufacturing systems will become more and more automated. Ultimately, manufacturers will have substantially


unmanned factories, so as some have imagined it, they can turn the lights out on the factory floor. However, the road to “lights out” manufacturing is decades longer than many people originally thought.

Key technical thrusts
Most see computer technology as the central glue to future manufacturing systems. Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) systems will include: product design, actual manufacturing of the product, shipping, and even customer product support. The drive towards CIM has three key technical thrusts: flexible automation, information integration, and online optimization. Figure 1 shows how these three thrusts relate to a manufacturing facility’s generic activities. Developing these three thrusts should make manufacturers more “lean” and “agile.” This would result in dramatically shorter times-to-market, sharply reduced inventories, and substantially better coordination between manufacturing systems and the marketplace.



1 I






Flexible automation
Fig. 1 The /SO generic activity model formanufacturingand three key thrust areas forCIM
The flexible automation thrust concerns how to increase a manufacturing system’s flexibility for material transportation, material transforma-


0278-6648/93/$3.00 0 1993 IEEE


Authorized licensed use limited to: Tec de Monterrey. Downloaded on August 12,2010 at 03:41:00 UTC from IEEE Xplore. Restrictions apply.

To provide such tailored variety. Design engineering can use concurrently available information from manufacturing to design products that are easier to manufacture and less costly. or store those materials in inventory. or be self-configuring. . and material verification. affecting which computer networks and hardware to use. and so on. Another group then translates this information for its use.its own internal use. Dedicated equipment will no longer be acceptable. material storage. it is also often conflicting. one group must often translate another group’s information about the product. tolerances on different pieces. inspect their processes. Electrical and computer engineers can help define the standards for computer systems to transport manufacturing information across networks. different functional groups of a manufacturing enterprise have different information about products.2010 at 03:41:00 UTC from IEEE Xplore. Facilities planning and finance can use concurrently available information about the product to design more efficient facilities. Machines transforming raw materials into finished goods will also require increased flexibility. The outside world may only care that this is Acme Co. using the present and past observed state of the manufacturing plant. autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) may replace conveyor belts.) One important ongoing standardization issue is developing a generic or “neutral” product model for manufacturing (Fig. and to assure manufacturing data integrity. hopefully. This definition is broader than that typically given in an introductory engineering course in Controls. Factory automation has historically meant product standardization and assembly-line type production. (The manufacturing environment can be more harsh on electrical signals. A single product model would eliminate redundancies and inconsistencies.’s XYZ Toaster. and the toaster’s manufacturing stages. what do we do with it? We use it to make more intelligent decisions. Finance may only want to know the toaster’s selling price and production costs. For So how will these factories be controlled? A s shown by the I S 0 Generic Activity Model (Fig. Currently. networked around a manufacturing system. Factory control can use concurrently available information about manufacturing capabilities and production requirements to optimize the production process. manufacturing facilities must be highly flexible. Thus. in the future. electrical connections. Manufacturing systems must be easy to re-configure. Downloaded on August 12. W Fig. and demand from the market. when they want it. Manufacturing problems also require distinctive data structures and computer algorithms. move materials around the facility. Each translation can introduce errors or inconsistencies. 2 Groups requiring product infomation tion. the reason information is translated into and out of the manufacturing domain. and so forth. to store manufacturing 16 IEEE POTENTIALS Authorized licensed use limited to: Tec de Monterrey. Market oriented manufacturers provide customers what they want. Because this information is often redundant and maintained by different groups. voltage ratings. Production may mostly care about angles to bend sheet metal. or stored in manufacturing databases is so it can be used to control the manufacturing facilities as they receive and ship materials. at a desirable price and quality. we define manufacturing control as the actuation of a manufacturing plant to make products. On-line optimization Once we have collected all this information about our highly flexible manufacturing enterprise. Now many see that manufacturing needs to be more market oriented. The manufacturing environment adds a special flavor to these standardization and open systems issues. 2). Consistent with Fig. information using appropriate database systems. This definition is more aligned with the lay usage of the term “control” and the intuitive connotation of what it means Information integration The number of manufacturing options will explode as manufacturing equipment and facilities become increasingly flexible. We next consider the factory control issues of online optimization where electrical and computer engineers can play a pivotal role. processed. We must learn to intelligently use the resulting information flood. 1. where simple devices are used to control small systems. I ) . Now multi-disciplinary teams can concurrently design the product and its production system. process those materials. They must flexibly transport materials wherever and however they are needed. Shipping may only worry about XYZ’s physical dimensions and weight. wiring diagrams. to transform manufacturing information using different computer algorithms. Engineering concerns itself with detailed technical specifications such as material type. Restrictions apply.

It can coordinate purchasing. But they provide factory activity coordination and possible future problem indication. Another related approach uses artificial neural networks. because they pull jobs out of the manufacturing system. schedules can be performed using very general time frames such as weeks or months. or new emergency jobs come into the manufacturing facility. Scheduling algorithms can be used to obtain both spatial and temporal optimality. inspection. employee work hours. Some practical scheduling problems can be solved using mathematical programming techniques. the item was re-ordered (pulled) from the manufacturing facility or possibly suppliers. Many variations on forwardhackward scheduling exist. If a machine is unavailable. Let’s look at how factories are controlled. One type of heuristic scheduler popular in practice is called a simulation scheduler. All production stops until someone pulls the inventory out of the system. working backward from the last operation to be completed on the job to the first operation. . They can be used to decide when to let the manufacturing facility start working on the next job. They can be used to determine which machine to send a job to next. or they sort the jobs by the amount of slack time before the job is due and take the job with the least slack-time. and takes the highest priority job. Re-order point algorithms have experienced a rebirth with Toyota’s success at using a re-order point system they developed. because they both push jobs from stage to stage in the manufacturing system. all production stages produce until inventory levels after each stage reach their prescribed levels. the production stage that made that finished-goods-inventory starts production by pulling the inventory it needs to make the materials to replenish the finished-goods-inventory. then Dispatching algorithms Dispatching algorithms can be used when any number of events happen in a factory. Yet dispatching algorithms suffer from major drawbacks often referred to as their lack of temporal and spatial optimality. dynamic scheduling. Dispatching rules provide maximum flexibility because decisions are made only at the last minute. the most common type of algorithm sorts all available jobs by a sort key. or they sort the jobs by the amount of processing required in the next step and take the job that requires the least control a whole factory. such scheduling systems lack temporal and spatial optimality. Re-order point algorithms Both dispatching and scheduling algorithms are referred to as push algorithms. There are no plans to alter. If every production stage takes equal time. thus reducing lead-times and inventories in highly utilized factories. work-in-progress inventories were put in bins in a storage area. These schedulers are usually called Knowledge-Based Schedulers. Also. Like the dispatching systems on which they are based. Academics and practitioners have proposed numerous scheduling algorithms. Dispatching algorithms are most commonly used to determine which job a machine should work on when the machine becomes available. causing these production stages to start. If any job ends up being scheduled for completion after it is required by the customer. and factory maintenance. because the decisions they make usually only concern the machine at hand. plans do not have to be altered. machines fail. These theoretical problems’ practical ramifications can include long lead-times and high inventories in highly utilized factories. Commonly used sort keys (called dispatching rules) sort the jobs by due-date and take the job with the earliest due-date. scheduling algorithms. The resulting predicted factory behavior becomes the schedule. when a manufacturing process becomes available. A very popular research area uses expert systems for scheduling manufacturing systems. At Toyota. As a result. In these early systems. the computer time required to solve such a problem grows exponentially as the number of jobs or machines increases. That is. and re-order point algorithms. An advance schedule can also be desirable for other reasons. Advance schedules can also show possible future problems such as a specific machine becoming overloaded. called a kanban. the system will go into full production every DECEMBER 1993 17 Authorized licensed use limited to: Tec de Monterrey. Scheduling can be performed instead based on operations or machines. Re-order point algorithms affect product manufacturing by requesting production when inventory is depleted to a given re-order point. a factory simulation is run as though simple dispatching rules controlled the factory. Dispatching algorithms lack temporal optimality because they make current decisions without considering possible future events. The bins were checked periodically and if inventory was depleted to a certain level. One well-known academic result shows optimally scheduling n jobs on m machines is an NP-complete problem. Another popular scheduler in practice is called a forward/backward scheduler. online. It can tell customers when orders should be completed. real-time. jobs take longer than expected. or they can schedule to the hour or minute. There are three basic types of algorithms that are used to control factories. Restrictions apply. Though many complex dispatching heuristics have been developed. in the real world schedules are often determined using heuristic methods instead of optimization methods. tooling. Downloaded on August 12. Still another idea is to develop capabilities for computer-based. So if. Scheduling algorithms are used to make manufacturing decisions in advance of the decision’s implementation. With a simulation scheduler. Here each job i s taken oneat-a-time and placed at succeeding manufacturing operations forward in time. Dispatching algorithms are used to determine which product to send where. At this time. T h e pulled inventory causes other inventory to be pulled. market demand shifts to other products or product mixes. Dispatching algorithms lack spatial optimality it is backward scheduled from the customer’s due date. to control their automotive assembly lines. not also what is happening at other machines. This contrasts with re-order point algorithms. These are dispatching algorithms. the j o b is shifted forward until that machine becomes available. Scheduling algorithms A scheduling algorithm specifies what will happen on the factory floor for some time into the future. only a few simple scheduling problems can be optimally solved in reasonable time. Re-order point algorithms are very simple and were among the earliest algorithms used for factory control.2010 at 03:41:00 UTC from IEEE Xplore. which are referred to as pull algorithms. Thus.

and the type of manufacturing environment in which they are used strongly affects their performance.” Toyota’s success with a re-orderpoint control system started a worldwide Just-in-Time manufacturing craze. Such a system would create massively idle inventories if each standard inventory piece was only used a few times a year.2010 at 03:41:00 UTC from IEEE Xplore.” S o far it is hard to interpret the results. manufacturing control algorithms are usually mixed and matched. However. 3 A conjecture of what control algorithms best fit different manufacturing environments classified by variance time a piece of finished goods inventory is pulled out of the system. goods come to be produced only as needed! They are made “Just-in-Time. a pull system requires set product types so when a standard inventory piece is pulled out of the system. Manufacturers’ inventories have been down substantially over the last few years. to minimize inventories and maximize throughput. processing times. forcing everyone to focus on fixing that stage’s problems. As the manufacturing system is tuned to minimize shut downs. . Yields. Restrictions apply. It seems that different control algorithms perform best for different mixes of manufacturing variance (see Fig. The most important variance seems to be the variety of products made by the factory. machinery down-time. Generally. however. 4 A common MRP/MES architecture 18 IEEE POTENTIALS Authorized licensed use limited to: Tec de Monterrey. A pull system has the advantage that if a machine breaks down or has problems. The result is an automatically controlled factory.job shop small batch medium batch large batch repetitive batch continuous process process Product Variability (Nominally in Lot Size or Production Volume) Fig. Virtually any manufacturing system can use a dispatching system. Thus. The recent economic downturn has made it difficult to tell if these reductions came from improved factory control or because lightly utilized factories are easier to control. But they can be run on a computer and their results can be implemented automatically. Yet many manufacturers are attempting to use scheduling systems instead of re-order point systems to have products produced and delivered “Just-in-Time. customer demand. jobs are Manufacturingcomputercontrol architectures These control algorithms have historically been implemented manually. to accommodate minor changes without rescheduling. this does not cause excessive inventory to accumulate before it. Fig. often a scheduler sets general manufacturing objectives. though few manufacturers have gone to reorder point control. Inventory is not produced until it is pulled. A problem does shut down the assembly line’s lower stages. For example. and production levels all have to be relatively predictable to use a scheduling system. 3). a pull system is preferred over a schedul- ing system which is preferred over a dispatching system. These different control algorithms perform differently. but these systems can cause high inventory levels and low throughput in highly utlized factories. In practice. Downloaded on August 12. manufacturing variances encountered by the manufacturing control algorithms seem to most strongly affect how well the control algorithms perform. it triggers production to replace that piece. product mixes.

and the control architecture’s design to maximize the computer system’s performance for factory control. trade in manufactured goods. software engineering. A strong factor seems to be the manufacturing variances that the control algorithm must accommodate (e. 5 T e heterarchial market-drivencontract net architecture h DECEMBER 1993 19 Authorized licensed use limited to: Tec de Monterrey. Each computer then knows the schedule for its machines and it can implement this schedule using dispatching algorithms as before. The process industries also have their own unique factory control problems that require their own distinctive control architectures.g. Electrical and computer engineers have pivotal expertise in computer architectures. decision sciences and control. A possible solution would make scheduling more dynamic by using a scheduling algorithm that can be distributed across multiple computers. The point here is not that the MRPMES paradigm is bad. Since dispatching rules require no global information to operate.) Some will ignore capacity limitations. 4). and systems theory. robot lathe lathe chucker chucker inventory stores Fig. Restrictions apply. it can be difficult to re-schedule with an MRP system if too many unforeseen changes happen on the factory floor. Also.S. (Often. MRP systems will schedule only to the nearest week or day.2010 at 03:41:00 UTC from IEEE Xplore.. Here the advance schedule is determined by negotiations between computers that represent different pieces of manufacturing equipment. The number of different jobs in these systems can be so large as to overload a standard MRP scheduler. Medium. databases. Since this software is often large and complex. Thus. operating systems. For this scheduling system. the computation required for scheduling increases linearly with the number of jobs and machines being scheduled. An architecture is a specification of the interconnection of software modules that perform different functional tasks. . One proposal is the Market-Driven Contract Net (Fig. it usually will have to be implemented on multiple computer platforms. However. These systems usually operate to restrict the number of a certain class of jobs in a manufacturing system until a job of that type is pulled out of the system. Here a Manufacturing Requirements Planning (MRP) system schedules the factory’s work. Department of Commerce.and large-batch manufacturers have successfully implemented the MRPIMES paradigm. The software architecture generally limits the types of hardware architectures that can be used.S. often a small-batch manufacturer has less standardized production methods. the MRPMES architecture would provide inferior performance. small-batch manufacturing accounts for approximately 75% of all U. A manufacturing system controlled by a kanban will usually have a scheduling system to determine when to make different finished-products and to help coordinate production with outside suppliers. 5). Research issues What makes one control architecture better than another? The answer is definitely tied to the question of what makes one control algorithm better than another. Current MRP sys- tems avoid scheduling’s inherent computational complexity by possibly oversimplifying the scheduling problems. A Manufacturing Execution System (MES) implements the schedule using standard dispatching rules. this architecture is a two-level hierarchy. there is an important interplay between the hardware architecture and the software architecture it supports.manufacturing in lot-sizes of less than SO. Downloaded on August 12. The way control algorithms are mixed and matched is usually referred to as a control architecture. many research projects have aimed at mixing a dispatcher with a pull system.actually dispatched according to the due-dates given in the schedule. For them. Such systems have had limited success due to the effects they can have on reducing machine utilization and job throughput. The hardware will ultimately determine the software’s performance. communications networks. One such bad fit is small-batch manufacturing. usually using fonvardlbackward scheduling algorithms. Also. a single MRP system can schedule for multiple MES’s or a single MES can be distributed across the factory on personal computers. A two-level hierarchy has evolved in practice (Fig. Obviously. manufacturers with limited product variety are better off using a re-orderpoint control system. but that it may be a bad fit for some types of manufacturing situations. Also. According to the U. making future operations more difficult to predict. Two technical issues critically determine a control architecture’s ability to control a given manufacturing system: the control algorithms’ fit to the given manufacturing system.

The whole area of discrete-event systems modeling and analysis is a very active research area. 4. 1992. the Journal of Manufacturing Systems.” Managing Automation. Merchant is Senior Consultant at the Institute of Advanced Manufacturing Sciences (IAMS) in Cincinnati. No one has satisfactorily determined a way to make this modification. network protocols. IS-22. Though re-order point algorithms are generally agreed to be better than scheduling algorithms for reducing lead-times and inventories. Vol. Romano. algorithms that deal better with larger numbers of jobs and algorithms that deal better with changes on the plant floor. Discrete Event Dynamic Systems Piscataway. Hogg. December 1989. because these systems are more driven by the event occurrences than time passage. “A Computer Architecture for Small-Batch Manufacturing. Ohio. McLean. Baker. they need to be modified for small batch manufacturing. you can work as an in-house automation specialist for most manufacturing companies. where he had risen to the position of Principal Scientist. a university position or a position at a government or industry research laboratory is prob- 20 IEEE POTENTIALS Authorized licensed use limited to: Tec de Monterrey. For any automatic system to work. ably your best bet. and G. You may instead choose to work for a company that specializes in factory automation.D. Monden. They have key expertise that can be used to select the right computer platforms. and we need more interesting architectures to better understand our options. pp. the Control Systems Laboratory at the GE Corporate Research and Development Center. Downloaded on August 12. May 1983. But our list of such variances is incomplete and many variances on this list seem to be highly interrelated or possibly redundant. NJ: IEEE Press. M. “The Employment Shift to Services: Where Did it Come From?. operating systems. but we may also need new and better control architectures. Some key manufacturing journals and conferences include the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation. which in the very early years was focused primarily on research in the machining process. and to the development and implementation of that potential worldwide.2010 at 03:41:00 UTC from IEEE Xplore. 2745. and at the Corporate Headquarters of Cincinnati Milacron. and Harvard University in Electrical Engineering. J. You should then directly contact those individuals. A. He has degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Barkmeyer. 1. it must run using accurate information about the manufacturing facility’s status. 45. .T. Blackstone. begun earlier in his career. GA: Industrial Engineering and Management Press. “Case Study Result5 with the Market-Driven Contract Net Manufacturing Computer-Control Practical issues Manufacturers cannot wait for these issues’ resolution before automating their plants. we not only need new and better control algorithms. and so forth. Jr. The University of Michigan. 12. After a few years. No. Restrictions apply. processing time variances. One major ongoing research issue in factory control is how to model a manufacturing system. and programming languages. Countdown to the Future: The Manufacturing Engineer in the 21st Century Dearborn. Mitchell. No. yield variances). he joined Metcut Research Associates as Director of Advanced Manufacturing Technology. Baker has worked in the Manufacturing Technology (Man Tech) Directorate of the United States Air Force. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and is one of the I8 full U. Fall 1988.” Monthly Labor Review. Possibly. We need architectures that provide specialized services. and F.H. The common way to find such a position is to look through journals and conference proceedings to decide whose research most interests you. “Industry Insight: The Top 50 Systems Integrators. Y. According to some estimates. Mechanical Engineering and Business Administration.R. Thus. the IEEE Conferences on Robotics and Automation. We need better scheduling algorithms: algorithms better suited for distributed computing. Dr. 1992. ed. If you would like to work as a practicing engineer to automate factories. MI: Society of Manufacturing Engineers.” A U T O F A C T ’ 9 2 . Phillips.L. pp. 59-64.” International Journal of Production Research.. With the advent of the digital computer. 1983. Executive Summary. database systems. Practicing electrical and computer engineers can provide valuable assistance when determining which control system and vendor to use in a given manufacturing situation. 1982. Baker is an Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Cincinnati. About the authors Dr. that focus shifted to research on the potential of computer technology to automate and integrate the total system of manufacturing. These companies are often referred to as Manufacturing Systems Integrators. “A State-of-the-Art Survey of Dispatching Rules for Manufacturing Job Shop Operations.. Detlef K.S. p. He spent 46 years at Cincinnati Milacron carrying out research in manufacturing. Toyota Production System. pp. Norcross. Trade magazines that specialize in reporting Systems Integrators’ activities are Managing Automation magazine and Manufacturing Systems magazine. ____ Read more about it Michael Urquhart. members of the International Institution for Production Engineering Research. on worldwide research in manufacturing. Here he continues to do research. Architecture. November 8. C.12. Lawrence Gould. D. Following his retirement from Cincinnati Milacron. important ongoing work includes accurate data collection systems and easy to use computer-human interface designs. and the SME AUTOFACT Conference. There he teaches courses in systems theory and controls. the IFAC/lFIP/IFORS Symposia on Information Control Problems in Manufacturing Technology. the manufacturing systems integration industry has been growing almost 20% per year over the last five years. the Factory Control and Scheduling Group at the General Motors Technical Center. The batch manufacturing processes are referred to a s discrete-event systems. Projile 21. Rice University. Vol. he moved to his current position at IAMS. 20. His research is in automatic factory control. Yu-Chi Ho. April 1984.” IEEE Spectrum. Dr. Koska and Joseph D. Getting involved If you would like to research new ways to automate factories.lot-size variances.