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The Net-WMS project proposes interactive optimization tools and prototype software that will form the basis for a new generation of WMS Networked Services. Net-WMS will handle networked communication and co-operation processes through the integration of decision-making technologies, generic 2D/3D and higher-dimensional placement constraint solvers, visualization and interaction with the solvers in virtual reality, packing models and knowledge modelling with business rules. Its scientific outcome will be relevant to the whole domain of combinatorial optimization and will have direct technological impact on Supply Chain Management at both the WMS and TMS levels, especially in the areas of packing, vehicle loading, space management, planning & scheduling, inventory control and packed item visualization.

Net-WMS prototype applications will be operational in an environment of networked warehouses, thanks to their interoperability and to the user friendly interface designed for plant level technicians. They will include innovative tools and plug-ins for warehouse management systems :

  • A packing modeller of items based on optimization techniques and interactions in virtual reality,
  • A palletising tool using optimization techniques,
  • A dispatcher including the virtualization of a truckload,
  • A set of interfaces enabling communications between several planning components across a network.

The project goals are three-fold:

On the commercial side, Net-WMS aims at improving European competitiveness in the area of warehouse management by significantly reducing costs related to packing, manpower and transportation.

On the technological side, the project will pave the way to next generation WMS software by applying innovative technologies that will enhance operations in industrial warehouse environments, such as :

  • A set of J2EE interfaces for interoperability and mobile services, enabling communications between planning components across a network,
  • A mobility interface, allowing remote users (e.g. truck drivers) to report planning changes,
  • New interactive modules combining Constraint Programming, Rule Programming and Virtual Reality, in support of modelisation, simulation and optimisation of the packing process
  • A set of high-level modelling libraries for the Constraint Programming system Choco,
  • Extensions to Rule Programming tools such as CHR and Drools.

From a scientific standpoint, significant advances are expected on :

  • The algorithmic treatment of global placement constraints for objects of higher dimensions including space and time
  • The expression of constraint optimization problems with a language of business rules
  • The control of an optimization tool with interactions in virtual reality