The BEST AI Application Of The Year
This was won by the production scheduling system jointly developped by Beyers & Partners (CHIP distributor in Belgium) and COSYTEC, using CHIP V4.1 and modules such as XGIP and QUIC. This system is fully operational at Monsanto, a leading US chemical manufacturer in Antwerp that produces rubber, plastics, resins and herbicides for export.
The award is offered at the fourteenth International Artificial Intelligence Conference (formerly known as Avignon). This year, the conference took place at the Palais des Congrès at Porte Maillot, Paris. The panel comprised of the journalist Pierre Berger from the “le Monde Informatique”, corporate users of AI systems Jean-Michel Darroy and Jean-Marc David (Matra Marconi Space and Renault, resp.) as well as Jean-Paul Haton (President of the Programme Committee) and Jean-Claude Rault (President of the Conference). This award is created to promote industrial-scale applications developped from AI technologies. Selection criteria included the innovation content and complexity of the application, its integration to the user's environment and the return on investment for the user.
The CHIP Solution
The scheduling system is a multi-user decision support tool for the factory planning and production staff, to manage a two-step production process : formulation and packaging of several herbicide canning and production lines. The plant can produce several hundred different finished products, each using various packaging components, of which there are several thousands. There are constraints on storage between the formulation and packaging steps and in the holding area for finished products.
The CHIP solution is integrated into the IT infrastructure of the plant, using data from an MRP system using the ORACLE database management system. It has a sophisticated user interface to display production data in Gantt charts, manpower lists and BOM-level diagrams. Users can browse and directly manipulate this data and manually or automatically schedule the production, check for warnings and illegal situations. Production plans are written back to the database.
Considerable benefits have been derived since system installation:
- Within the scheduling department, improved communications have resulted; several users are now expert at scheduling, and reliance on key personnel has been alleviated.
- The plant can now respond quickly and more accurately to changes in customer orders. There has been a decrease in stock levels carried by the plant, and the production lines are better scheduled.