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Development of Agent-based Platform for Coordinated Scheduling in Global Supply Chain

글로벌 공급사슬에서 경쟁협력 스케줄링을 위한 에이전트 기반 플랫폼 구축

  • Received : 2011.11.18
  • Accepted : 2011.12.19
  • Published : 2011.12.31

Abstract

In global supply chain, the scheduling problems of large products such as ships, airplanes, space shuttles, assembled constructions, and/or automobiles are complicated by nature. New scheduling systems are often developed in order to reduce inherent computational complexity. As a result, a problem can be decomposed into small sub-problems, problems that contain independently small scheduling systems integrating into the initial problem. As one of the authors experienced, DAS (Daewoo Shipbuilding Scheduling System) has adopted a two-layered hierarchical architecture. In the hierarchical architecture, individual scheduling systems composed of a high-level dock scheduler, DAS-ERECT and low-level assembly plant schedulers, DAS-PBS, DAS-3DS, DAS-NPS, and DAS-A7 try to search the best schedules under their own constraints. Moreover, the steep growth of communication technology and logistics enables it to introduce distributed multi-nation production plants by which different parts are produced by designated plants. Therefore vertical and lateral coordination among decomposed scheduling systems is necessary. No standard coordination mechanism of multiple scheduling systems exists, even though there are various scheduling systems existing in the area of scheduling research. Previous research regarding the coordination mechanism has mainly focused on external conversation without capacity model. Prior research has heavily focuses on agent-based coordination in the area of agent research. Yet, no scheduling domain has been developed. Previous research regarding the agent-based scheduling has paid its ample attention to internal coordination of scheduling process, a process that has not been efficient. In this study, we suggest a general framework for agent-based coordination of multiple scheduling systems in global supply chain. The purpose of this study was to design a standard coordination mechanism. To do so, we first define an individual scheduling agent responsible for their own plants and a meta-level coordination agent involved with each individual scheduling agent. We then suggest variables and values describing the individual scheduling agent and meta-level coordination agent. These variables and values are represented by Backus-Naur Form. Second, we suggest scheduling agent communication protocols for each scheduling agent topology classified into the system architectures, existence or nonexistence of coordinator, and directions of coordination. If there was a coordinating agent, an individual scheduling agent could communicate with another individual agent indirectly through the coordinator. On the other hand, if there was not any coordinating agent existing, an individual scheduling agent should communicate with another individual agent directly. To apply agent communication language specifically to the scheduling coordination domain, we had to additionally define an inner language, a language that suitably expresses scheduling coordination. A scheduling agent communication language is devised for the communication among agents independent of domain. We adopt three message layers which are ACL layer, scheduling coordination layer, and industry-specific layer. The ACL layer is a domain independent outer language layer. The scheduling coordination layer has terms necessary for scheduling coordination. The industry-specific layer expresses the industry specification. Third, in order to improve the efficiency of communication among scheduling agents and avoid possible infinite loops, we suggest a look-ahead load balancing model which supports to monitor participating agents and to analyze the status of the agents. To build the look-ahead load balancing model, the status of participating agents should be monitored. Most of all, the amount of sharing information should be considered. If complete information is collected, updating and maintenance cost of sharing information will be increasing although the frequency of communication will be decreasing. Therefore the level of detail and updating period of sharing information should be decided contingently. By means of this standard coordination mechanism, we can easily model coordination processes of multiple scheduling systems into supply chain. Finally, we apply this mechanism to shipbuilding domain and develop a prototype system which consists of a dock-scheduling agent, four assembly- plant-scheduling agents, and a meta-level coordination agent. A series of experiments using the real world data are used to empirically examine this mechanism. The results of this study show that the effect of agent-based platform on coordinated scheduling is evident in terms of the number of tardy jobs, tardiness, and makespan.

Acknowledgement

Supported by : 호서대학교

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