Home arrow Expected Results
Expected Results

The achieved Net-WMS prototype applications for processes in a networked WMS will provide:

Decision making components in a networked environment:

  • A packing modeller of items based on virtual reality and optimisation techniques.
  • A palletiser tool using optimisation techniques which takes as input existing packing models (cartons, etc.) and items to pack, and computes the optimal number of each packing model.
  • A dispatcher (vehicle routing) with the virtualisation of a truck load. The tool computes the optimal placement of items in a vehicle whilst taking into account the delivery and the customer constraints. In addition, it provides means to visualise the content of the vehicle using virtual reality capabilities.
  • An online scheduler tool enabling the user to schedule daily activities in a WMS like picking activities or assignment of vehicles to gates based on results of the packing and dispatcher tools

Network connectivity:

  • A set of interfaces enabling communication between several planning components across a network, guaranteeing that changes inflicted by a user or by recurrent events in one plan will propagate to the plans established in all other components.
  • A mobility interface allowing remote users (such as truck drivers) to report changes in the planning and to get answers for unexpected events.
Open-source optimisation tools:
  • A set of high level modelling libraries for the Constraint Programming system Choco in particular. These open-source developments will benefit other software companies wanting to develop applications based on the results of Net-WMS and will include also general purpose contributions usable in other application domains.
All tools developed in the project will take into account features and constraints of networked WMS. Clearly, the result is a set of advanced tools as described above. They can be used in an existing WMS or in a WMS based on J2EE technologies. The networked warehouse management is not a deliverable in the project Net-WMS. The development of a WMS requires at least 400 person / months which is out of the scope of the project Net-WMS. However, industrial partners will implement prototype solutions of Net-WMS featuring:
  • The solvers (packing, scheduler and dispatcher) will be available and usable from any site when required.
  • Networking capabilities to allow, for example, that the manager of site A can schedule activities of site B.
In a WMS, the process of transforming a client order (e.g. a customer order of 10 pallets of Emmental cheese) into activities depends on the WMS host system. Net-WMS will propose open high level semantic object structures to model activities. Thus, these activities can be either used directly or interfaced with existing structures of the WMS system.
Net-WMS will enable the development of new and innovative algorithms, methods and techniques in the research areas, which are knowledge rules, cutting edge optimisation, simulation methods, interactivity, Virtual Reality and networking connectivity technologies for superior performances in networked WMS. Another originality is the collaboration between academics, public research units and SMEs to enable packaging these advanced technologies into simple and efficient tools, including enterprises which are less RTD oriented.


Expected outcome of Net-WMS planned to be open source

Contribution to the open-source Constraint Programming system Choco (http://choco.sourceforge.net/). This system is a state-of-the-art Java library for constraint satisfaction problems (CSP), constraint programming (CP) and explanation-based constraint solving (e-CP). This system mainly developed by Bouygues and EMN as a Source Forge project, is distributed under the BSD licence. Our contribution will essentially consist in the implementation of a new global constraint and of a new interactive execution model for virtual reality. We will provide: 
  • A library for handling multi-dimensional geometrical constraints. Although designed by the Net-WMS project, this library will be general purpose, mathematically well-defined and independently of WMS problems.
  • A tutorial illustrating how to use the previous library under different typical scenarios, including but not restricted to WMS problems.
  • A library for connecting Choco to the VR platform, supporting a novel interactive execution model, and implementing the work carried on the combination of interactivity, constraint programming and virtual reality.
Contributions to the open-source Rule-based Programming systems CHR and Drools. The CHR java toolkit and Drools are both pure-Java implementations of a forward chaining rules engine. Drools is an open-source counter-part of Business Rules environments like ILOG J-Rules for instance. It can be used in a J2SE or J2EE application and allows you to express rules in a variety of scripting languages, including Python, Groovy, and Java. CHR has a more academic flavour. Initially dedicated to the implementation of constraint solvers, this more flexible system does realize an integration of rule-based and constraint programming through a powerful handling of variables within facts. In addition to prototypes written in CHR, we will provide for Drools: 
  • A library for representing WMS problems and mapping them to constraint satisfaction problems for their resolution.
  • A tutorial illustrating how to use the previous libraries for solving WMS problems.
  • An integrated library for handling rules together with geometrical constraints.
  • Contributions to standards in the domain of networking warehouse management and to mark-up languages, by defining a packing representation XML-extension language including:
  • A new mark-up specification (PackingML) document explaining its Elements, Attributes, Rules and semantic.
  • A DTD for the mark-up language PackingML stating its syntax.
  • A toolkit for interpreting PackingML in CHR, Drools and Choco.


Expected outcome of Net-WMS planned to be commercial

Prototype tools developed using the basic technology investigated in the project are intended to become commercial products, such as, for instance:

  • Packing modeller
  • Graphical components and interactive simulation based on virtual reality
  • Palletiser tool
  • Dispatcher.
  • Online scheduler
  • Set of interfaces enabling communication between the different components in a networked architecture
  • Mobility interface allowing remote users to interact with the different components  in a networked architecture
All the industrial tools developed in the project will be industrial prototypes. Technological partners will present in the last year an exploitation plan detailing the industrialisation of the results planned to be commercial.