Manufacturers have long been plagued with planning problems related to production and inventory decisions, labor requirements and capacity adjustments. DynaPro, a new software tool developed by Subhash Sarin, an engineering faculty member at Virginia Tech’s Center for High Performance Manufacturing (CHPM), could help manufacturers make those types of decisions.

Common problems that many manufacturers face include: production plans going awry because of demand fluctuations, changing product demand, difficulty in deciding to increase or reduce labor capacity, adjusting resource capacities, and managing backlogs. “If a company can answer ‘yes’ to any one of those situations, then DynaPro is the tool for them,” said Sarin, the Paul T. Norton Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

DynaPro is a “powerful production planning tool that can be used by management to optimize different production-based objectives under rapidly changing demand scenarios,” Sarin said. It prescribes optimal solutions with respect to production quantities, inventory levels, labor and resource (e.g., machines) requirements on a period-by-period basis to effectively cope with changing product demand.

DynaPro can be used to solve a range of issues such as minimizing total operating cost, determining average inventory investment, and maintaining a balanced workforce. The name of the tool is derived from its ability to cope with the dynamic nature of the product demand and utilizing resources in an efficient way.

There are several attractive features of DynaPro,” Sarin added. “These can be categorized into those related to the products, workers, and resources involved. Planning of multiple products can be accomplished over several time periods under manufacturing process yields as well as backorders and out-sourcing options. Worker classifications, work-resource compatibilities as well as their flexibility to work on multiple machines, can be easily handled.

“The other features of DynaPro include scalability and flexibility, adaptability (easy to integrate with the existing system), ease of use and high time-efficiency.”

DynaPro is based on a comprehensive, advanced mathematical model, and its results are displayed in various charts and graphs for ease of analysis.

The state of Virginia launched the CHPM in July of 2001, using its Commonwealth Technology Research Fund. Virginia Tech leads the center and James Madison University and the College of William and Mary participate.

The CHPM works to help manufacturing firms research, develop, and implement new processes, methods, and technologies in order to stay competitive in today's dynamic manufacturing environment. Work is performed in wide variety of areas, ranging from supply chain design and flexible automation to rapid prototyping and low-cost composite manufacturing.

For more information, visit the Center for High Performance Manufacturing site.

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