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Integration of process planning and scheduling by exploring the flexibility of process planning

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A unique method for the integration of process planning and scheduling in a batch-manufacturing environment is reported. This integration is essential for the optimum use of production resources and for the generation of realistic process plans that can be readily executed with little modification. The integration problem is modelled at two levels: process planning and scheduling, which are linked by an intelligent facilitator. The process-planning module employs an optimization approach in which the whole plan solution space in terms of available machines, tools, tool accessibility and precedence constraints is first generated and a search algorithm is then used to find the optimal plan. For a given set of jobs, the scheduling module takes the optimal plans for each job and generates a schedule based on a given criterion, as well as the performance parameters (machine utilization and number of tardy jobs). An unsatisfied performance parameter is fed back to the facilitator, which then identifies a particular job and issues a change to its process plan solution space. The iteration of process Planning -scheduling-solution space modification continues until a schedule is satisfactory or until no further improvement can be made. The uniqueness of this approach is characterized by the flexibility of the process-planning strategy and the intelligent facilitator, which makes full use of the plan solution space intuitively to reach a satisfactory schedule. (It may not be the optimal, though.) The integrated system was implemented in the manufacturing of prismatic parts. The testing results show that the developed integration method can achieve satisfactory process plans and a schedule in an effective and efficient manner.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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