Integrating AI Technologies with Production Planning Systems

By CIOReview | Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The role of manufacturing has shifted dramatically in advanced and developing economies. Revolution of the manufacturing industry has now become critical to keeping up with the ever-changing marketplace. And in that direction, the fourth industrial revolution propounds the most disruptive social-economic transformation. While AI transforms several industries, manufacturing is not left untouched. These technologies, more than the latest fad, set the bar for efficiency and compel businesses to review business plans and find some way to integrate them.

The newest generation of so-called Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) overtakes many of these limitations by introducing optimization algorithms rather than fixed logic that can trade off priorities and alternatives to create a more viable plan that balances both resources and material date and quantity. But even APS has its limitations, as smart as it is. It requires a dedicated, knowledgeable human planner to read and interpret the recommendations in the context of what is happening on the floor of the plant and in the world of the customer utilizing intelligence not spotted in the data. These production planning systems learn to create a model of the process by gathering a massive amount of data and evaluating it deeply, for cause and effect. The system can then conduct thousands of what—if simulations to find the best way forward as new information comes in. As these scenarios play out, the model is also developed based on additional data.

There is no doubt that AI-developed plans and schedules will be better than any human being could develop. Plants will run more efficiently, the quality of the product will improve, and work efficiency will improve.

So what is the planner going to do after Artificial Intelligence technology takes over the manufacturing planning job? Besides adding health check on plans and planning system operations, human planners can focus on fixing any special exceptions that may not be addressed by the system. Furthermore, human insight and ingenuity can be aimed, at improving processes.