# Introduction to Graph Neural Networks (GNN) in Production Process Optimization

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) are an advanced subset of neural networks adapted for data structured in graphs. In manufacturing processes, these networks can be used to optimize operations by representing and analyzing complex relationships and dependencies in production systems. This paper aims to elucidate the application of GNNs in optimizing manufacturing processes, with a focus on modeling manufacturing systems, process simulation and optimizing production schedules.

**What is a Graph Neural Network?**

A Graph Neural Network (GNN) processes data represented graphically, a mathematical structure composed of nodes (vertices) and edges (connections between nodes). Each node and edge can have associated attributes, and the goal of a GNN is to learn a representation of these nodes and edges that captures both their attributes and the topology of the graph. This property makes GNNs particularly suitable for applications where the relationships between entities are important, such as manufacturing processes.

## Modeling Production Systems as Graphs

In a manufacturing context, the production system can be conceptualized as a graph where each node represents a different stage in the production line, and edges represent the flow of materials or information. This graphical representation allows GNNs to analyze the dependencies and interactions between different stages, facilitating the identification of bottlenecks or inefficiencies. By adjusting these relationships or reconfiguring the graph structure, a more efficient production flow can be achieved.

## Process Simulation and What-if Analysis

GNNs excel in simulating production processes under various scenarios. By altering the graph’s structure or the attributes of nodes and edges, GNNs can simulate ‘what-if’ scenarios. For instance, what if a machine’s output rate is increased? Or what if a connection between two processes is rerouted? These simulations can predict the impact of such changes on the overall production process, aiding in decision-making and process optimization without the need to physically alter the production line.

## Optimizing Production Schedules

Production scheduling involves allocating resources, setting timelines, and sequencing tasks to optimize productivity and reduce downtimes. Representing the production schedule as a graph allows GNNs to optimize these schedules dynamically. The network can learn patterns and constraints within the production process, enabling it to propose scheduling configurations that optimize the use of resources and minimize the completion time. This aspect is particularly beneficial in environments with complex dependencies between tasks or where production demands fluctuate unpredictably.

# Graph Data Representation in Production Systems

A important step in utilizing Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) for optimizing production processes is the effective representation of production systems as graphs. This involves identifying the components of the production line that can be modeled as nodes and the relationships or material flows as edges.

## Node Representation in Production Graphs

In a production graph, nodes typically represent entities such as machines, workstations, or even individual operators. Each node can have attributes such as operational capacity, output rate, current status (active or idle), and historical performance metrics. The granularity of node representation can vary; for example, a node could represent a single machine or an entire section of the production line, depending on the level of detail required for the analysis.

## Edge Representation in Production Graphs

Edges in a production graph depict the interactions or dependencies between nodes. These can include material flows, information flows, or dependency constraints (e.g., one operation cannot start until another has finished). Like nodes, edges can also have attributes such as the capacity of the flow, the speed of transmission, or the dependency type. These attributes are essential for accurately modeling the dynamics of the production process.

## Benefits of Graph Representation

The graph representation offers several advantages for process optimization:

- Complex Dependency Mapping: It allows for a clear visualization and analysis of the dependencies and interactions between various components of the production process. This is particularly useful for identifying critical paths and potential bottlenecks.
- Flexibility in Scenario Analysis: Graphs can be easily modified to represent different scenarios, allowing for effective simulation and exploration of various process adjustments without the need for physical changes.
- Dynamic Optimization: With real-time data, GNNs can continuously update the graph representation and provide ongoing recommendations for process optimization. This dynamic approach helps in adapting to changes in production demands or operational conditions.

## Integrating GNNs with Graph Representation

Once the production system is modeled as a graph, GNNs can be applied to perform various optimization tasks. The network learns from the attributes of nodes and edges, as well as the overall graph structure, to predict outcomes and suggest optimizations. For instance, by learning the typical flow patterns and the impact of certain bottlenecks, a GNN can suggest re-routing flows or reallocating resources to improve overall efficiency.

# Practical Applications

Implementing graph-based models in production settings can lead to significant enhancements in various aspects of manufacturing:

- Efficiency Improvement: By optimizing the flow of materials and information, production time and resource use can be reduced.
- Cost Reduction: Identifying inefficiencies and optimizing resource allocation can lead to lower operational costs.
- Increased Output: Optimizing process flows and schedules can increase the overall output without the need for additional resources.

# Process Simulation and What-if Analysis Using Graph Neural Networks

Once the production system is aptly represented as a graph, the next significant utility of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) in manufacturing is in process simulation and conducting ‘what-if’ analyses. This capability is important for predictive planning and strategic decision-making, enabling manufacturers to foresee the consequences of alterations in the production line without implementing them physically.

## Simulating Production Processes

GNNs can simulate the entire production process by manipulating the graph’s structure. This includes changing node attributes (like machine speed or operator efficiency) or modifying the edges (such as altering the flow of materials or information). The GNN evaluates how these changes affect overall production efficiency, quality, and output.

For example, increasing the capacity of a particular machine will be represented by altering the node’s attribute in the graph. The GNN then processes this change to predict how it would affect downstream processes and overall production timelines. This simulation helps in understanding the potential impacts of machine upgrades or changes in operation procedures.

## Conducting What-if Analysis

What-if analysis involves hypothesizing changes and predicting their outcomes. This is particularly useful in manufacturing for several reasons:

- Risk Mitigation: Before making costly changes or investments, manufacturers can simulate the impact, allowing them to make more informed decisions and reduce potential risks associated with process alterations.
- Optimal Resource Allocation: By simulating different scenarios, GNNs can help identify the most effective way to allocate resources to maximize productivity and minimize costs.
- Disruption Planning: Manufacturers can simulate disruptions, like machine failures or supply delays, to plan and strategize optimal responses, minimizing downtime and its impact on production.

## Example Scenario: Machine Upgrade Impact

Consider a scenario where a manufacturer is considering upgrading a machine in a critical part of the production line. The specific steps involved in using GNNs for this what-if analysis would be:

- Graph Modification: Update the node representing the machine to reflect the increased capacity or efficiency.
- Simulation: Run the GNN model to simulate the production process with the updated graph.
- Outcome Analysis: Analyze how the change affects production time, costs, and final product quality.

This analysis helps in determining whether the upgrade would result in sufficient improvements to justify the cost, or if other modifications might be more effective.

# Optimizing Production Schedules Using Graph Neural Networks

For production engineering, scheduling is a important task that involves determining the optimal sequence and timing of operations to maximize efficiency and throughput. Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) provide a sophisticated means to tackle this challenge by leveraging the graphical representation of production processes. This final section discusses how GNNs can be utilized to optimize production schedules, enhancing the overall productivity of manufacturing operations.

## Understanding Production Scheduling as a Graph

In a production environment, the scheduling problem can be visualized as a graph where each node represents a task or operation, and edges denote dependencies or precedence relationships. Attributes on nodes might include operation duration, earliest start time, and latest finish time, while edges could carry information like minimum time gaps between subsequent operations.

## GNNs for Dynamic Scheduling

GNNs can dynamically adjust production schedules based on real-time data and changing conditions. By learning from historical data on production performance and external factors, GNNs can predict potential delays or bottlenecks and adjust schedules proactively. Here’s how GNNs facilitate dynamic scheduling:

- Prediction of Task Durations: By analyzing past performance data, GNNs can predict the duration of each task more accurately, taking into account factors like machine performance and operator efficiency.
- Real-time Adjustments: As conditions change, such as a machine breakdown or an urgent order insertion, GNNs can recalibrate the schedule in real-time, minimizing disruptions and optimizing flow.
- Resource Allocation: GNNs can suggest optimal allocation of resources (machines, operators) to tasks by understanding the complex interdependencies within the graph, ensuring that resources are utilized efficiently without bottlenecks.

## Case Study: Implementing GNN for Scheduling Optimization

Let’s assume a factory where multiple products are assembled using a variety of machines and operators. The challenge is to schedule tasks in a way that minimizes idle time and meets delivery deadlines. Here’s a step-by-step approach using GNN:

- Graph Construction: Build a graph where each node represents a task, and edges represent the sequence in which tasks must be performed. Include attributes like estimated task duration and resource requirements.
- Training the GNN: Use historical data to train the GNN on how different scheduling decisions have impacted productivity and deadlines in the past.
- Simulation and Optimization: Simulate different scheduling scenarios using the GNN. The network evaluates each scenario and provides feedback on its effectiveness in terms of productivity and resource utilization.
- Implementation: Implement the optimal schedule suggested by the GNN, adjusting in real-time based on continuous feedback from the production floor.

## Code

`import torch`

from torch_geometric.data import Data

from torch_geometric.nn import GCNConv

import torch.nn.functional as F

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

import numpy as np

# Step 1: Graph Construction

edges = torch.tensor([[0, 1], [1, 2], [1, 3], [2, 4], [3, 4]], dtype=torch.long).t()

node_features = torch.tensor([

[10, 1], # Task 0: Duration 10, Resource Requirement 1

[20, 2], # Task 1: Duration 20, Resource Requirement 2

[15, 1], # Task 2: Duration 15, Resource Requirement 1

[10, 1], # Task 3: Duration 10, Resource Requirement 1

[5, 2] # Task 4: Duration 5, Resource Requirement 2

], dtype=torch.float)

data = Data(x=node_features, edge_index=edges)

# Step 2: Define the GNN Model

class GNN(torch.nn.Module):

def __init__(self):

super(GNN, self).__init__()

self.conv1 = GCNConv(data.num_node_features, 16)

self.conv2 = GCNConv(16, data.num_node_features) # Output the same size as input features

def forward(self, data):

x, edge_index = data.x, data.edge_index

x = self.conv1(x, edge_index)

x = F.relu(x)

x = self.conv2(x, edge_index)

return x

model = GNN()

optimizer = torch.optim.Adam(model.parameters(), lr=0.01)

# Step 3: Train the GNN

for epoch in range(200):

optimizer.zero_grad()

out = model(data)

loss = F.mse_loss(out, data.x)

loss.backward()

optimizer.step()

if epoch % 50 == 0:

print(f'Epoch {epoch}: Loss {loss.item()}')

# Step 4: Generate Schedule from GNN Output

def generate_schedule(task_durations, dependencies, resource_requirements):

num_tasks = len(task_durations)

start_times = np.zeros(num_tasks)

finish_times = np.zeros(num_tasks)

for i in range(num_tasks):

if i == 0 or all(dependencies[:,1] != i):

start_times[i] = 0 # Start the first task or tasks without dependencies immediately

else:

dependent_tasks = dependencies[:,0][dependencies[:,1] == i]

start_times[i] = max([finish_times[j] for j in dependent_tasks])

finish_times[i] = start_times[i] + task_durations[i]

schedule = {f'Task {i}': (start_times[i], finish_times[i], resource_requirements[i]) for i in range(num_tasks)}

return schedule

optimized_outputs = model(data).detach().numpy()

optimized_durations = optimized_outputs[:, 0]

resource_requirements = optimized_outputs[:, 1]

schedule = generate_schedule(optimized_durations, edges.numpy().T, resource_requirements)

# Step 5: Visualize the Schedule

fig, ax = plt.subplots()

colors = ['b', 'g', 'r', 'c', 'm', 'y', 'k']

for i, (task, (start, end, resource)) in enumerate(schedule.items()):

ax.plot([start, end], [i, i], marker='o', color=colors[i % len(colors)], label=task)

ax.text((start + end)/2, i, f'{task}\nResource: {resource:.2f}',

horizontalalignment='center', verticalalignment='center')

ax.set_yticks(range(len(schedule)))

ax.set_yticklabels(schedule.keys())

ax.set_title('Production Schedule')

ax.set_xlabel('Time')

plt.legend()

plt.show()

In this section, we will walk through the Python code used to optimize production schedules using Graph Neural Networks (GNN). This explanation is designed to be straightforward and technical, aimed at readers who are interested in applying GNNs to real-world production scheduling problems.

## Step 1: Graph Construction

First, we construct the graph representing our production system. The graph’s nodes represent tasks, and edges represent dependencies between tasks. Each node has features such as the initial duration of the task and the resource requirement.

`edges = torch.tensor([[0, 1], [1, 2], [1, 3], [2, 4], [3, 4]], dtype=torch.long).t()`

node_features = torch.tensor([

[10, 1], # Task 0: Duration 10, Resource Requirement 1

[20, 2], # Task 1: Duration 20, Resource Requirement 2

[15, 1], # Task 2: Duration 15, Resource Requirement 1

[10, 1], # Task 3: Duration 10, Resource Requirement 1

[5, 2] # Task 4: Duration 5, Resource Requirement 2

], dtype=torch.float)

data = Data(x=node_features, edge_index=edges)

`edges`

: Defines the dependencies between tasks. For example, task 0 must be completed before task 1 starts.`node_features`

: Each row represents a task with its initial duration and resource requirement.

## Step 2: Define the GNN Model

We define a simple GNN model using PyTorch Geometric. The model consists of two graph convolutional layers.

`class GNN(torch.nn.Module):`

def __init__(self):

super(GNN, self).__init__()

self.conv1 = GCNConv(data.num_node_features, 16)

self.conv2 = GCNConv(16, data.num_node_features) # Output the same size as input features

def forward(self, data):

x, edge_index = data.x, data.edge_index

x = self.conv1(x, edge_index)

x = F.relu(x)

x = self.conv2(x, edge_index)

return x

`GCNConv`

: A graph convolutional layer that processes the node features based on the graph structure.`forward`

: Defines the forward pass of the model. It takes the input data, applies two convolutional layers with a ReLU activation in between.

## Step 3: Train the GNN

We train the GNN model to learn optimized task durations and resource requirements. The training loop runs for 200 epochs, minimizing the mean squared error loss between the predicted and initial task features.

`model = GNN()`

optimizer = torch.optim.Adam(model.parameters(), lr=0.01)

for epoch in range(200):

optimizer.zero_grad()

out = model(data)

loss = F.mse_loss(out, data.x)

loss.backward()

optimizer.step()

if epoch % 50 == 0:

print(f'Epoch {epoch}: Loss {loss.item()}")

`optimizer`

: Adam optimizer used for training.`loss`

: Mean squared error loss between the model's predictions and the original node features.`print`

: Outputs the loss every 50 epochs to monitor training progress.

## Step 4: Generate the Schedule

After training, we use the model’s output to generate an optimized production schedule. This involves calculating the start and finish times for each task based on the optimized durations and dependencies.

`def generate_schedule(task_durations, dependencies, resource_requirements):`

num_tasks = len(task_durations)

start_times = np.zeros(num_tasks)

finish_times = np.zeros(num_tasks)

for i in range(num_tasks):

if i == 0 or all(dependencies[:,1] != i):

start_times[i] = 0 # Start the first task or tasks without dependencies immediately

else:

dependent_tasks = dependencies[:,0][dependencies[:,1] == i]

start_times[i] = max([finish_times[j] for j in dependent_tasks])

finish_times[i] = start_times[i] + task_durations[i]

schedule = {f'Task {i}': (start_times[i], finish_times[i], resource_requirements[i]) for i in range(num_tasks)}

return schedule

optimized_outputs = model(data).detach().numpy()

optimized_durations = optimized_outputs[:, 0]

resource_requirements = optimized_outputs[:, 1]

schedule = generate_schedule(optimized_durations, edges.numpy().T, resource_requirements)

`generate_schedule`

: Function to compute start and finish times for tasks. It ensures that tasks start after their dependencies are completed.`optimized_outputs`

: The model's output, containing optimized task durations and resource requirements.`schedule`

: A dictionary containing the start and finish times, and resource requirements for each task.

## Step 5: Visualize the Schedule

Finally, we visualize the production schedule using Matplotlib. Each task is represented as a line segment on a Gantt chart.

`fig, ax = plt.subplots()`

colors = ['b', 'g', 'r', 'c', 'm', 'y', 'k']

for i, (task, (start, end, resource)) in enumerate(schedule.items()):

ax.plot([start, end], [i, i], marker='o', color=colors[i % len(colors)], label=task)

ax.text((start + end)/2, i, f'{task}\nResource: {resource:.2f}',

horizontalalignment='center', verticalalignment='center')

ax.set_yticks(range(len(schedule)))

ax.set_yticklabels(schedule.keys())

ax.set_title('Production Schedule')

ax.set_xlabel('Time')

plt.legend()

plt.show()

`fig, ax = plt.subplots()`

: Creates a new figure for the plot.`ax.plot`

: Plots each task as a line segment, with start and end times.`ax.text`

: Adds text labels to show resource requirements.`ax.set_yticks`

and`ax.set_yticklabels`

: Labels the y-axis with task names.`ax.set_title`

and`ax.set_xlabel`

: Sets the title and x-axis label for the chart.`plt.legend`

and`plt.show`

: Adds a legend and displays the plot.

**Output**

The results are visualized in a Gantt chart that shows the start and end times of each task, as well as the resource requirements. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the output.

## Training Loss

The training process for the GNN is monitored through the loss values at different epochs:

- Epoch 0: Loss 75.969 — This high initial loss is expected since the model starts with random weights.
- Epoch 50: Loss 14.671 — The loss significantly decreases, indicating that the model is learning from the data.
- Epoch 100: Loss 14.352 — The loss continues to decrease, though at a slower rate.
- Epoch 150: Loss 14.186 — The loss stabilizes, suggesting the model has reached a reasonable level of accuracy.

These loss values indicate that the model is effectively learning to optimize task durations and resource allocations based on the graph structure and node features.

## Gantt Chart Visualization

The Gantt chart provides a visual representation of the optimized production schedule. Each task is shown as a line segment on the timeline, with the start and end times determined by the GNN’s predictions.

- X-axis (Time): Represents the timeline over which the tasks are scheduled.
- Y-axis (Tasks): Each row corresponds to a task, labeled from Task 0 to Task 4.
- Line Segments: The length of each line segment corresponds to the task duration, and their positions along the X-axis represent the start and end times.

## Detailed Breakdown of Tasks

Task 0 (Blue):

- Start Time: 0
- End Time: Around 8
- Resource Requirement: 1.25
- Dependencies: None (starts immediately)

Task 1 (Green):

- Start Time: 0 (can start immediately)
- End Time: Around 15
- Resource Requirement: 1.58
- Dependencies: None (starts immediately)

Task 2 (Red):

- Start Time: After Task 1 ends, around 15
- End Time: Around 30
- Resource Requirement: 1.38
- Dependencies: Task 1

Task 3 (Cyan):

- Start Time: After Task 1 ends, around 15
- End Time: Around 30
- Resource Requirement: 1.34
- Dependencies: Task 1

Task 4 (Magenta):

- Start Time: After Task 2 and Task 3 end, around 30
- End Time: Around 45
- Resource Requirement: 1.54
- Dependencies: Task 2 and Task 3

# Interpretation of Resource Requirements

- The resource requirements for each task are also shown next to the task labels. These values indicate the amount of resources (e.g., manpower, machine hours) needed to complete the tasks.
- Task 1 has the highest resource requirement (1.58), which might indicate it is a resource-intensive task.
- Task 0 has the lowest resource requirement (1.25), suggesting it requires fewer resources compared to others.

*If you are interested in this content, you can check out my courses on Udemy and strengthen your CV with interesting projects.*

Link : https://www.udemy.com/course/operations-research-optimization-projects-with-python/