Material flow and production control includes the handling of all material flows in logistics and production. The main goal is to make the goods available at the right time, the right place and in the required quantity. In particular, however, this can include many different objectives. These can include, for example
- increasing the capacity of the system,
- an increase in flexibility (for example in the response time to failures or the processing of express orders),
- cost reduction through optimisation of processes,
- and/or the increase of the delivery capacity and reliability to deliver.
The exact optimization goals and control possibilities depend on the area of application and can therefore include further points.
In the area of material flow and production control, we deal with the control of all systems in which material moves. In addition to planning orders and material supply in the system, we also analyse existing systems based on operating data. Area of application can be the production; further areas include warehouse systems or distribution centres, in which processes such as incoming goods, order picking or shipping are controlled. A suitable control system is also required externally, e.g. during transport.
Structure of a multi-agent system after Wooldridge (2002)
In order to achieve these goals, different control methods can be used. Usually, these problems are solved using classical optimization methods for control or simulative modelling for analysis. In addition, there are also more modern methods, such as the use of artificial intelligence or decentralized / agent-based systems. In these systems, planning no longer takes place centrally on one computer due to the complexity of the underlying systems. Instead, planning is carried out decentrally at the points where decisions are also executed. As shown in the figure, this can be done by independent software agents. Our focus is on the development and implementation of the necessary algorithms for control.
Below you can find a sample of some of the projects we are doing in this field.