Nestor Rychtyckyj, Ford Motor Company
Since its presentation at the inaugural 1989 IAAI Conference (O'Brien et al. 1989), Ford’s Direct Labor Management System (DLMS) has evolved from a prototype being tested at a single assembly plant to a fully-deployed application that is being utilized at Ford’s assembly plants throughout the world. DLMS is Ford’s automated solution to managing the automobile manufacturing process system at our vehicle assembly plants. This paper will describe our experiences and the lessons that have been learned in building and adapting an AI system to the rapidly-evolving world of automotive vehicle assembly process planning. We will cover issues such as knowledge base development and maintenance, knowledge representation, porting the system to different platforms and keeping the system viable and up-to-date through various organizational and business practice changes. We will also discuss how DLMS has become an integral part of Ford’s assembly process planning business.