As companies increase the level of customization in their products, move towards smaller lot production and experiment with more flexible customer/supplier arrangements such as those made possible by Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), they increasingly require the ability to quickly, accurately and competitively respond 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 process plans for new orders into the existing production schedule to best accommodate the current state of the manufacturing enterprise.
This paper describes IP3S, an Integrated Process Planning/Production Scheduling (IP3S) Shell for Agile Manufacturing. The IP3S Shell is designed around a blackboard architecture that emphasizes (1) concurrent development and dynamic revision of integrated process planning/production scheduling solutions, (2) the use of a common representation for exchanging process planning and production scheduling information, (3) coordination with outside information sources such as customer and supplier sites, (4) mixed initiative decision support, enabling the user to interactively explore a number of tradeoffs, and (5) portability and ease of integration with legacy systems. The system is scheduled for initial evaluation in a large and highly dynamic machine shop at Raytheon’s Andover manufacturing facility.