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'Smart' scheduler finds most economical machine for the job.

Many molders have traditionally used a "first-in/first-out" approach to job scheduling. But this "first-available-press" approach does not necessarily pick the most suitable machine, from an economical point of view, to run that particular mold. The new "Intelligent Job Scheduler" (IJS) from Syscon-PlantStar of South Bend, Ind., is designed to solve that problem and ensure that a job is scheduled so that it not only will be completed on TABULAR DATA OMITTED TABULAR DATA OMITTED time, but also as efficiently and economically as possible.

The software, which costs only $6500, is available as a stand-alone package for use with manual data entry, or it can conceivably be set up to utilize data collected by any of several commercial real-time process and production monitoring systems. However, IJS reportedly works best with PlantStar's own Focus-100 plantwide monitoring network. "One of the really nice things about it," says marketing v.p. Steven J. Thomas, "is that when you install this package, you can immediately download up to 10 years of historical production-efficiency data from a Focus-100 system into it, and instantaneously have a scheduling 'expert' with 10 years of experience on your tools and equipment working for you."


Adds Thomas, this "expert-system" software "not only relieves plant management of the tedious task of creating a job schedule, but also assures that maximum use will be made of existing equipment."

Once a work order for new production is entered into the system, IJS first checks the required completion date, comparing it with projected completion dates of jobs currently assigned, and then identifies a group of machines available to complete the new work order on time.

IJS does this by consulting a Machine Group specified by the user. For each job, the user can identify an existing or brand-new selection of candidate machines, chosen by clamp force, shot size, degree of automation, or other relevant characteristic. IJS will then schedule the new work order only from machines in that designated group. A particular machine may also be designated as the only one allowed to run jobs for a particular product or customer.

When IJS schedules a job, it first considers which presses in the designated Machine Group will be available to satisfy the required job-completion date. It then determines which of the available machines will run the job most economically. It does this by considering several historical factors--assuming that this job has been run in the plant before and the job-history data have been entered into the IJS database:

* Burdened cost/hr. What is the hourly rate for each candidate machine?

* Production rate. Which machine in the past has run that mold in the fastest average cycle?

* Setup time. Does it take longer to set up that mold in some of the candidate machines than others?

* Downtime history.

* Reject rate.

Each of the above factors is considered to arrive at a Unit Cost for the part and the most cost-effective machine selection--all automatically.


Numerous features provide the flexibility needed by plastics molders. For example, each machine in the plant can be characterized in the database as to the number of hours per day or days per week it is available for job scheduling. A certain number of hours--or even a specific time period--can be set aside for scheduled maintenance so as to prevent scheduling conflicts.

Likewise, any particular jobs in the overall queue can be "locked" so as to prevent IJS from changing their position in the queue to make room for any new jobs. An "Exclude" function can be used to prevent IJS from scheduling jobs on a particular machine.

IJS schedules can be uploaded to Focus-100 for reference on the shop floor. Also, IJS should be updated with the latest production statistics at least daily by downloading fresh information from the plant's Focus-100 system. That way, IJS will automatically rearrange the schedule to accommodate unforeseen circumstances, such as a machine or mold breakdown, and will post a warning flag if it cannot meet any due dates with the revised schedule. (CIRCLE 21)
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Blown Film; Technology News; Syscon-PlantStar Intlelligent Job Scheduler computer system
Author:Naitove, Matthew H.
Publication:Plastics Technology
Article Type:Evaluation
Date:May 1, 1992
Previous Article:Recycled HDPE maintains film quality.
Next Article:Tough new hexene copolymer LLDPE.

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