Patent number 8560363 is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "In the manufacturing industry, the production of a finished end product typically involves the use of one or more raw materials. Manufacturers may use the same production equipment to produce different end products in a continuous operation. Raw materials may be provided to the production equipment in a continuous stream, and products may be produced by the production equipment in a continuous stream. For example, a manufacturer may continuously feed chemical raw materials into a piece of production equipment that mixes the raw materials. The manufacturer may initially feed a first set of raw materials into the production equipment, which produces a first end product. At a later time, the manufacturer may begin feeding different raw materials into the same piece of production equipment. The production equipment may then produce a second end product.
"Typical production equipment may not be able to instantaneously stop producing the first end product and begin producing the second end product. Instead, after the production equipment begins receiving the different raw materials, the production equipment may produce a transition product before producing the second product. The transition product represents a product that differs in at least one way from the first and second end products. A transition product may differ from one or both of the end products in a small way, in which case the transition product may be blended with one or both of the end products or sold as an 'off-spec' product. A transition product could also differ from the end products to a larger extent, in which case the transition product may be unusable and the manufacturer may need to dispose of the transition product."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "According to the present invention, problems and disadvantages associated with previous production planning techniques may be reduced or eliminated.
"In one embodiment of the invention, a method for continuous production planning includes identifying a forbidden transition associated with production of first and second end products. The forbidden transition indicates that a manufacturer should not produce the first and second end products consecutively. The method also includes identifying a bridge product associated with the forbidden transition. The bridge product represents a product that the manufacturer could produce between production of the first and second end products. The method further includes determining a quantity of the bridge product that could be produced by the manufacturer. In addition, the method includes scheduling production of the first and second end products and the bridge product. At least a portion of the quantity of the bridge product is scheduled for production between the production of the first and second end products.
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