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


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

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

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

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

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