AI in Manufacturing at Digital
The rapid advances in information technology are causing a fundamental change in the way we do our business. Within our manufacturing business today, various parts of the organization are " reasoning " about "engineered products." The everyday problem-solving activity within the organization can be thought of as conducted by a network of experts knowledgeable about the products and the physical and paperwork processes that constitute the business, that is, the knowledge network. The focus of our attention has not been just at the factory level; we have been addressing the order-process cycle: marketing, sales, order administration, manufacturing, distribution, and field service. This cycle can be thought of as outer loop of the knowledge network. Also, we recently began addressing the inner loop. This loop is the product life cycle : marketing and new product requirements, design and manufacturing startup, and volume or steady-state manufacturing. This article describes DEC's internal strategy for applying artificial intelligence (AI) to manufacturing processes and problems above the work-cell level. In addition to an overview of this knowledge network, we feature DEC's newest system in order processing : the configuration-dependent sourcing (CDS) expert. Project experience on this system, which deals with the assignment of fulfillment sites (factories) to line items in computer system orders, is also described.
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