Some aspects of system design for production management in the rolling-mill industry
Case studies in copper-alloy rolling mill companies showed that existing planning systems suffer from numerous shortcomings. Where computerised systems are in use, these tend to simply emulate older manual systems and still rely heavily on modification by experienced planners on the shopfloor. As the size and number of orders increase, the task of process planners, while seeking to optimise the manufacturing objectives and keep within the production constraints, becomes extremely complicated because of the number of options for mixing or splitting the orders into batches. This thesis develops a modular approach to computerisation of the production management and planning functions. The full functional specification of each module is discussed, together with practical problems associated with their phased implementation. By adapting the Distributed Bill of Material concept from Material Requirements Planning (MRP) philosophy, the production routes generated by the planning system are broken down to identify the rolling stages required. Then to optimise the use of material at each rolling stage, the system generates an optimal cutting pattern using a new algorithm that produces practical solutions to the cutting stock problem. It is shown that the proposed system can be accommodated on a micro-computer, which brings it into the reach of typical companies in the copper-alloy rolling industry, where profit margins are traditionally low and the cost of widespread use of mainframe computers would be prohibitive.