RL in manufacturing control

Vladimir Samsonov, Karim Ben Hicham, Tobias Meisen, Reinforcement Learning in Manufacturing Control: Baselines, challenges and ways forward, Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence, Volume 112, 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.engappai.2022.104868.

The field of Neural Combinatorial Optimization (NCO) offers multiple learning-based approaches to solve well-known combinatorial optimization tasks such as Traveling Salesman or Knapsack problem capable of competing with classical optimization approaches in terms of both solution quality and speed. This brought the attention of the research community to the tasks of Manufacturing Control (MC) with combinatorial nature. In this paper we outline the main components of MC tasks, select the most promising application fields and analyze dedicated learning-based solutions available in the literature. We draw multiple parallels to the current state of the art in the NCO field and allocate the main research gaps and directions on the perception, cognition and interaction levels. Using a set of practical examples we implement and benchmark common design patterns for single-agent Reinforcement Learning (RL) solutions. Along with testing existing solutions, we build on the ranked reward idea (Laterre et al., 2018) and offer a novel Multi-Instance Ranked Reward (m-R2) approach tailored to MC optimization tasks. It minimizes the reward shaping effort and defines a suitable training curriculum for more stable learning by separately tracking the agent\u2019s performance on every scheduling task and rewarding only policies contributing towards better scheduling solutions. We implement all solution design patterns as a set of interchangeable modules with a shared API, unified in a benchmarking framework with the focus on standardization of training and evaluation processes, reproducibility and simplified experiment lifecycle management. In addition to the framework, we make available our discrete-event simulation of a job shop production.


Zhihao Liu, Quan Liu, Wenjun Xu, Lihui Wang, Zude Zhou,
Robot learning towards smart robotic manufacturing: A review,
Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing,
Volume 77,
ISSN 0736-5845,

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