Original Date: 11/13/1995
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Expert System - Machine Configuration
JLG Industries, Inc. developed a comprehensive software program for customer and distributor requirements entry, pricing development, supplier part requirements, in-house production part requirements, and schedule requirements to be established and phased into the production line . This system, called the Expert System Configurator, was introduced in 1992 and allows interpretation of the master bill of materials for each product manufactured according to the customer requested configuration. JLG's machine (product) order entry system was formerly a line item entry of part numbers and required special knowledge of the different models and add-on features. Manual entry was necessary when a particular model was selected, and the manufacturing order from which the machine was built had to be created. Consequently, corporate goals were established to reduce the cycle time to a goal of 10 days from the order to shipment of the machine. All redundant, non-value-added labor was to be removed from the order processing activities. A repeatable, stored configuration mechanism was required to eliminate configuration errors in the manufacturing order.
Adjustments to this system are required only when engineering modifies the available configuration with the introduction of a new prototype to the production line. The employee taking the order responds to a series of 12 high-level questions related to the general, physical characteristics of the machine being ordered. From these responses, a sales order is created for invoicing and a manufacturing order, complete with a top-level bill of materials, is introduced into the manufacturing software modules. This system resides on the AS/400 corporate computer system and a PC.
The accuracy of the bills of material was improved through the Expert System Configurator. A business growth of four to five times the number of machine orders is supported by the same number of personnel. Using this system, JLG reached the corporate goal to improve the order-to-shipment cycle time from 79 days to 30 days. Bills of material entry was reduced from the former 30 to 60 minutes to 3 to 4 minutes, and entry errors were eliminated. The system will allow for customer configuration entry into the system at the plant and a real-time automatic delivery quote to the customer.
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