Artificial Intelligence and the Internet: An Integral Part of the Factory of the Future

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Journal of Industrial Technology • Volume 18, Number 2  February 2002 to April 2002
Volume 18, Number 2 - February 2002 to April 2002
Artificial Intelligence and the Internet:
An Integral Part of the Factory of
the Future
By Marla P. Rogers
Computer Science
Non-Reviewed Article
The Official Electronic Publication of the National Association of Industrial Technology
© 2002
1Journal of Industrial Technology  Volume 18, Number 2  February 2002 to April 2002
Artificial Intelligence and
the Internet: An Integral
Part of the Factory of the
By Marla P. Rogers
Marla Rogers is currently pursuing a Master of Sci-
ence in Industrial Technology with East Carolina
implementing more efficient factories. through hardware and software up-
University. She completed a BS in Industrial Tech-
“ … AMR Research Inc. in Boston grades providing Internet capabilities
nology with Southern Illinois University while serv-
ing on active duty with the U.S. Air Force. Marla
estimates that 40% of all new manufac- for each machine tool.
currently resides with her family in Alaska.
turing-related software now incorpo- E-Manufacturing contends that
rates some form of AI” (Port, 2000). In machine monitoring should provide
Factory operations will change
the near-distant future all manufactur- timely information to managers,
significantly during the next 10-20
ing will become digitized. Supply maintenance workers, and operators
years due to advances in artificial
chains are already converting software enabling effective productivity deci-
intelligence and the Internet. Artificial
to “smart modules” that communicate sions to be rapidly to meet higher
Intelligence will place machines
with each other. Embedded web servers production requirements. Machine
capable of automatic reasoning on
are in many new devices purchased for monitoring is provided by software and
factory floors providing instantaneous
plant operations allowing machinery to browser-based reports. During software
solutions to manufacturing problems
relay data to computers on the Internet. monitoring information is automati-
during the production process. As older
Collaboration will allow manufacturers cally collected at the CNC, forwarded
machines are replaced with internet-
to respond to initial customer reactions to the server, and saved in an SQL
ready tools the machines will be
to products and increase service levels. database. Routine data is readily
capable of reporting production
The “lights out factory” is a long- available to programs capable of SQL
information to managers and
term goal of factory automation database calls. Data indicating critical
maintainers through the Internet.
proponents. Port (2001) found that the problems immediately triggers email or
Current developments and technologi-
newest machine tools from Milacron pager notification.
cal forecasts indicate that machine-
Inc. have “learning engines” and Browser-based reports are created
controlled operation and machine to
Gensym Corp. has software neural for non-critical notification and can be
person communication is a reliable and
networks capable of comprehending distributed as appropriate. Browser
tangible expectation.
intricate manufacturing procedures. reports can be accessed from anywhere
Will manufacturers be ready for
Future factory production will be in the world providing less downtime
the future? Yes, if they begin preparing
substantially efficient due to the and higher productivity as events occur
today. Manufacturers will require
inherent speed of new programs and that managers need to be aware of
reliable computer hardware and
machine tools. Today’s manufacturers during travel.
software on the factory floor and up-to-
need to examine and update factory
date communications equipment with
applications to be competitive with Implementing artificial
Internet access. Highly skilled employ-
future factories. intelligence
ees will be a critical requirement in all
The article, “Software Trends for a
factories and recruitment and training
Connectivity example New Manufacturing Environment,”
of operators should begin now! Up-
The product line of e-Manufactur- (Melnyk & Martin, 1995) summarizes
grading and replacing manufacturing
ing Networks Inc. (2001) provides a the required steps for implementing
equipment, computer hardware and
suite of shop floor connectivity solu- artificial intelligence or automated
software, and Internet capabilities
tions designed to optimize information response in manufacturing. The first
should be pursued today. Waiting to
flow from the factory floor and CNC step for implementing automation in
upgrade will lead to production failure
controlled machines. Their products manufacturing is to acquire employees
and loss of competitiveness.
include an open architecture platform capable of executing plans, analyzing
to provide communication between problems, and formulating and imple-
Artificial Intelligence
CNCs and from CNCs to management menting solutions. Highly educated,
Artificial Intelligence or automated
by directly accessing operational dedicated employees reduce manufac-
reasoning is the next step towards
information from machines on the floor turing overhead allowing function
2Journal of Industrial Technology  Volume 18, Number 2  February 2002 to April 2002
integration to be emphasized. Head- tages of minimum cost, optimum Today’s Applications
quarters staff placed in geographically competency, equipment sharing, and Texaco has four 3-D Visualization
separated factories must be instantly real-time organization of production. Centers and Giselle Smith (1999)
available to others within the company. reported on the Houston center.
The final step of implementation is Internet based solutions Geologists and geophysicists use the
maintaining focus on the core skills Manufacturers are already incorpo- facility to analyze seismic data and
and knowledge required to create value rating support for Internet manufactur- predict oil well placement more
for customers. Meeting these chal- ing. Solutions range from software for accurately. Facilities like Texaco’s have
lenges will result in a manufacturing determining customer purchasing the potential to dramatically reduce the
process that will be accomplished in- needs to monitoring and controlling number of low or non-producing wells
house and by outsourcing elements of production from remote locations. drilled. The 3-D visualization technol-
production outside of the “The advent of the Internet has forever ogy allows information to be processed
manufacturer’s core skills allowing changed the structure of the supply in 1 day instead of 2 weeks dramati-
collaboration with suppliers to yield a chain … Today, the Internet enables cally decreasing the time from data
seamless, integrated virtual factory. several suppliers to chime in on an collection to projection. Most 3-D
Melnyk and Martin’s (1995) response order, allowing them to compete for a visualization centers use Silicon
to these implementation steps is new contract in cyberspace” (Haren, 2000). Graphics computers, but there is no
categories of software. Groupware is Implementation of an e-supply chain industry standard for software.
software allowing different people located requires full integration of supply Peter Burrows (2001) states that
in different places to work together. components with Internet components Colgate-Palmolive Co. has installed
Visually oriented simulation packages according to Haren (2000). Haren’s SAP corporate software to allow the
allow the user to build a visual representa- software company, ILOG, provides company to have a real-time direct
tion of a factory on the computer screen software solutions that include web- connection to cash registers at Wal-
that can be animated for testing job based purchasing and support for the Mart Stores and Kmart. The software
operations. Business process Internet human interface. allows production rates to be modified
reengineering packages document and The US-Japan Center at Vanderbilt immediately based on real-time sales
analyze business processes and result in University has created a Virtual monitoring. The company only ships
the identification of redundancies. These Manufacturing Village (VMV) consist- products the stores are selling.
are just a few examples of the software ing of researchers and practitioners Unifi Inc. company headquarters is
solutions available for automated reason- who develop manufacturing concepts located in Greensboro, NC and all
ing. Software solutions are expanding in an on-line community. Some of the factory equipment in its 22 locations is
exponentially and will allow full automa- areas they have focused on are intelli- accessible from headquarters. Custom-
tion of factories in the near future. gent manufacturing, environmentally ers may access data through the
conscious design and manufacturing, company’s web site.
The Internet and remote manufacturing systems.
To accomplish e-production the Benefits
Internet must be looked upon as a Projection The benefits of artificial intelli-
working tool on the factory floor, Web-enabled machines on the gence in manufacturing devices
instead of a selling tool according to factory floor will control industrial combined with Internet connectivity
Lance Gordon (2000). The Internet is Internet communication in the future. are emerging on a continual basis.
an information accessing tool that will Factories will be refurbished and more Embedded Internet working products
allow manufacturers to access produc- efficient than today’s resulting in a enable existing CNC to communicate
tion machines remotely in real-time. In smaller and more effective staffing over an Ethernet network providing
the article, “The Cyber Factory: A Web standard. The Internet will allow fast, real-time manufacturing information.
of Intelligent Machines” the author efficient, reliable communication Video over IP technology allows users
states that the most important develop- resulting in increased productivity and to remotely monitor the production
ment in communications technology safety. Installation of wireless systems process by allowing the computer
will be simplified and standardized will create greater flexibility and network to function as a video network
interfaces between machines and eliminate episodes of extended down- allowing real-time pictures to be
humans. The low cost and world time required for wired systems when viewed on any PC. This technology
coverage of the Internet allows a cost troubleshooting. Wireless applications also allows rewinding, pausing, and
effective method for remotely monitor- will also allow greater worker mobility. replaying of video.
ing machine status and allowing the The manager of the future will be able Continuous operation, breakdown
user to analyze machine processes and to access process information at all avoidance, and remote control of
implement corrections at any time. times resulting in the ability to address distant factories are three of the chief
Using networked intelligent devices on deviations in productions in real-time. benefits of remote monitoring with
the factory floor provides the advan-
3Journal of Industrial Technology  Volume 18, Number 2  February 2002 to April 2002
automated reasoning devices on plant rates. Productivity can already be Port, Otis (2000). Thinking Machines.
floors and Internet connectivity. measured from distance locations over (n.d.). Retrieved November 26,
the Internet and wireless communica- 2001, from http://www.
Required Components tions have the ability to provide
Computer hardware and software increased access. Wireless communica- b3693096.htm
at the remote site can be any computer tion will eliminate wired operations Port, Otis (2001). Brave New Factory.
with a web browser. Computer hard- once a backward compatible standard BW Online, July 23, 2001. Re-
ware at the controlled machine site is created and implemented worldwide. trieved November 26, 2001, from
must be rugged and reliable. Control We must begin preparing today in
actuators, measurement sensors, safety order to be ready for the future. magazine/content/01_30/
switches, and fast communication Manufacturers must begin purchasing b3742096.htm
equipment will also be required. updated machinery with embedded Product Lines. (n.d.). Retrieved
Software at the controlled machine site technology and acquiring software for November 28, 2001, from http://
must have flexible, well-designed interfacing machines and the Internet. prod-
controlling and communication Educators must return to the basics ucts/nervoussystem.htm
capability (Jim Henry, personal with real-world application of acquired Smith, Giselle (1999). Texaco’s 3-D
communication, November 18, 2001). knowledge to prepare people to Pod Improving Oil Exploration.
function in the factory of the future., September 10,
People 1999. Retrieved November 20,
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critical in the automated factory of the Burrows, Peter (2001). The Era of sections/business/WorkingWiser/
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peak operation. Employee responsibili- vember 28, 2001, from http://
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opposed to completing manufacturing Gordon, Lance (2000). The Industrial vmv.htm
tasks. Academia must collaborate with Internet. Education at a Distance, Unifi Inc. (n.d.). Retrieved November
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requirements within industry by ED_magazine/illuminactive/ Web Based Reporting. (n.d.). Retrieved
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produce an adaptive workforce. Prepara- Haren, Pierre (2000). Editorial. ILOG
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Manufacturing will change by 1995. Retrieved November 20,
leaps and bounds over the next 2 2001, from http://
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intelligence and Internet connectivity IM-1-95/software.html