United States Patent 3725650

Data obtained in industrial production or office work, such as rate or quantity of output of a machine or a worker, are applied to computers for deriving electric signals characterizing the operation with regard to efficiency, profitableness, etc. Indicator boards are provided having electroluminescent strips or discs, or cathode ray tubes the extent of the luminous portions of which are controlled by the computers.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
International Classes:
G07C3/12; G09F13/22; (IPC1-7): G06F15/20
Field of Search:
340/324,166EL 307
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US Patent References:
3565606N/A1971-02-23Carlson et al.
3531795BAR-TYPE DISPLAY1970-09-29Gassler
3376452Circular electroluminescent display device1968-04-02Lally
3351937Data-display apparatus1967-11-07Spens
3328790Display devices1967-06-27Rhodes
3327163Electroluminescent bar graph indicator1967-06-20Blank
3205403Electroluminescent display systems1965-09-07Schwertz
3149281Electroluminescent voltage measuring device1964-09-15Lieb

Primary Examiner:
Morrison, Malcolm A.
Assistant Examiner:
Wise, Edward J.
That which is claimed is

1. A method of monitoring a production process by optically representing industrial management data characterizing the production process, comprising the steps of:

2. A method according to claim 1, in which said quantities are derived from production data by means of a computer.

3. A method according to claim 1, in which said signals are applied to electroluminescent devices for visually comparing the results corresponding to the first and the second quantities.

4. A method according to claim 1, in which said signals are applied to cathode ray tubes.

5. A method according to claim 1, in which electric pulses are derived from one display unit for controlling the combining of the optically displayed quantities and applying them to another optical display unit.

6. A method according to claim 1, in which at least one of said quantities is derived from the movement of an object.

7. A method according to claim 6, in which said object is a machine.

8. A method according to claim 6, in which said object is the product obtained from a process.

9. A system for monitoring a production process by optically representing industrial management data characterizing the production process, comprising:

10. An arrangement according to claim 9, in which the display comprise units an electroluminescent element having a luminescent area of controllable extent and a scale for measuring said extent.

11. An arrangement according to claim 10, in which said element is an electroluminescent strip.

12. An arrangement according to claim 10, in which said scale is exchangeable.

13. An arrangement according to claim 10, in which said element is a strip forming a closed configuration.

14. An arrangement according to claim 13, in which said strip is circular.

15. An arrangement according to claim 13, in which a plurality of parallel strips is provided.

16. An arrangement according to claim 10, in which said element is a circular disc and said luminescent area is a sector of said disc.

17. An arrangement according to claim 10, comprising a plurality of electroluminescent elements of different shape.

18. An arrangement according to claim 17, in which said elements are of different widths.

19. An arrangement according to claim 10, comprising a plurality of electroluminescent elements of different colors.

20. An arrangement according to claim 9, in which said computer is connected via an encoder to each said display unit.

21. An arrangement according to claim 9, in which said digitally controllable optical display units are luminescent screen devices having an input circuit connected to a computer means for producing an electric output signal representing the measure of a quantity characterizing a production process.

22. An arrangement according to claim 21, in which said luminescent screen device is a T.V. image tubes.

23. An arrangement according to claim 21, wherein said luminescent screen devices are connected via electrical switching means for deriving and displaying additional quantities characterizing a production process.

24. An arrangement according to claim 23, in which said luminescent screen devices are adapted for displaying a plurality of signals in different colors.

25. An arrangement according to claim 24, in which the screen have different sections displaying said signal in different colors thereon.


The invention relates to a method for optically representing data characterizing a production process and to an arrangement for performing the method.


In offices as well as in industrial enterprises, factories, etc., it is imperative to have access to a number of production data, such as the quantities of planned, actually produced and sold products, prices, prime costs, number of work hours, and the like. These values are collected for storage and for further processing. In the interest of clarity, use is made for this purpose of graphic diagrams, tables, charts and the like.

It is previously known to utilize indicator boards, on which are placed strips of paper, which may be in different colors, or magnetic markers. Also known are boards provided with colored tapes which can be pulled off from reels. These methods of representing production data are complex and time-consuming and are not suitable for automatic processing, for instance, in computers.


It is an object of the invention to provide an arrangement and a method for handling industrial or other data, which makes it possible to represent them optically in a rapid and dependable manner with as little use of personnel and time as possible, and to facilitate storage and other processing of such data with the aid of a computer.

According to the invention, data characterizing a production process such as an industrial process or other operation or a quantity which has been derived from such data with the aid of calculators, preferably an electronically controlled calculator, such as a computer, is obtained and transformed into electrical signals. The signals are applied to a digitally controllable optical display unit such as an electroluminescent device, and cause the same to respond to and indicate the magnitudes of the quantities. This method can be carried out very simply and easily with the aid of a digitally controllable optical display unit comprising an electroluminescent device having at least one element which is responsive to produce an electroluminescent output signal of variable magnitude and which responds directly or indirectly to a digital signal-generating means, each element being provided with a scale for the corresponding quantity.

In a modified embodiment of the invention, the digitally controlled optical display unit is a luminescent screen device, such as a conventional TV image tube, the input circuit of which is connected, preferably via an encoder, to the calculator, the control circuits of the tube being arranged to supply electrical signals for displaying the magnitude of a quantity representing a characteristic of an industrial process or an optical signal corresponding to such magnitude.

An advantage of the use of electroluminescent strips consists in that they can be controlled digitally from a computer. Also, adjacent strips produce indications that are easily compared, and the range of electroluminescent response is capable of relatively fine subdivision.

It is also possible to use as indicators counter-tubes or cathode ray oscillographs, as well as combinations thereof. Since it is generally preferred in office equipment to use analog representation, the invention in its preferred form uses devices including electroluminescent strips.

The representation may also be in the form of strips on a luminescent screen, i.e. on a TV image-reproducing tube. This provides, in addition, a possibility of recording and displaying diagrams, charts, symbols and characters and to illustrate the time variations of processes.


The invention will be described below with reference to the drawing, which shows schematically by way of example various embodiments thereof.

FIG. 1 shows an arrangement for representing productivity,

FIG. 2 is a modification thereof,

FIG. 3 shows an arrangement adapted for production planning,

FIG. 4 shows an arrangement for representing production data in connection with cost calculation and marketing,

FIG. 5 is an arrangement adapted for capacity planning,

FIG. 6 is an arrangement comprising an oscillograph,

FIG. 7 is a modified form including a TV apparatus, and

FIG. 8 is an arrangement with two image screens.


FIG. 1 shows schematically an arrangement for representing the characteristic quantity "productivity" of an industrial production process. The productivity is a characteristic data or quantity which is derived from other data such as the types and quantities of products as well as the number of working hours used for their production, and it is usually indicated as a percentage. The arrangement comprises an indicator board which may have a number of electroluminescent devices, or cathode ray tubes, such as conventional TV tubes thereon. In the embodiment shown, there are provided a number of electroluminescent strips 3. The luminescent strips may be of the type referred to in the magazine "Flugwelt" 19 (1967), No. 9, page 638, published by Krausskopf-Flugwelt-Verlang GmbH., Mainz, Germany, or in the magazine "Luftfahrttechnik-Raumfahrttechnik", Vol. 13 (1967), No. 11, pp. 276-279, published by VDI Verlag, Dusseldorf, Germany. The strips are responsive to a calculator or computer 26, preferably of the electronic type, and the output signals of which are applied as input signals to the strips. Provided at the lower edge of the board are markings indicating fields or categories of production, such as departments of an enterprise, premium or bonus groups, accounting information, e.g. accounting sections, etc. for the various strips 3. There are supplied manually or automatically to the calculator or computer a number of data and the computer calculates therefrom the corresponding maximum, minimum, or average productivity values over a predetermined period of time and indicates them on the board. A scale may be provided on the board for enabling reading of numerical values therefrom. Optical alarm signals 13 are provided, which are activated when a quantity decreases below a predetermined value, such as an average or a minimum. The instantaneous values may be correlated with values stored in the calculator and derived from indications of the indicating device during the foregoing comparison intervals. In addition to the optical representation of the production data, it is also possible to provide digital representation, for instance, by means of digital counting tubes.

FIG. 2 shows a modification of the arrangement, in which the indicating devices comprise disc-type elements. According to the magnitude of the quantity to be represented, a greater or lesser sector is rendered luminescent in response to the output signal of the computer.

FIG. 3 shows the combination of two arrangements adapted for production planning. An indicator board 1 is provided with a number of pairs of strips 3a, 3b and with a pair of marginal fields 5, 6. Field 5 contains a tabulation of the machines used in the company or plant and field 6 contains a time scale. Strip 3b may show the total running time of a machine, whereas strip 3a shows the time during which the machine was loaded or not idling. A second board 2 with electroluminescent strips 3 is located adjacent to the first one and is provided in a marginal field 7 with designations of the products produced by the machines and in a second marginal field 8 also with a time scale. The indicating devices of both boards are controlled by a computer 26 to which there may be applied input signals indicative of the quantities of different products via a digital signal generator 9 in combination with an encoder.

FIG. 4 shows an arrangement serving to facilitate cost calculation or analysis and to make it possible to perform such operations more rapidly than was heretofore possible, and to facilitate taking steps to modify marketing procedure. An indicator board 1 is divided into two regions 10 and 11 having corresponding scales for indicating production volume, turnover, sales or the like and for indicating marginal cost 11. The electroluminescent strips 3 are continuous but preferably separate for the two fields and are paired together, each lower pair 3e, 3f being connected to the output side of the corresponding upper pair 3c, 3d. The lower scale may be provided with symbols designating representatives' or agents' districts corresponding to the lower pairs. The strips serve to indicate desired (nominal or theoretical) values as well as actual values of production volume, turnover etc., 3c, 3d, as well as of the marginal cost 3e, 3f and are controlled by a computer. It is obvious that a greater number than two of coordinated strips could be provided, which might differ from each other in width and/or color or the like to facilitate distinguishing them from each other.

FIG. 5 shows another combination of two arrangements which facilitates the capacity planning of an enterprise in a very much simplified and rationalized manner. In this case, also, a pair of indicator boards 1, 2 are provided, one of which has a plurality of pairs of strips 3g, 3h, as well as a time scale 14. The pairs of strips correspond to locations or operating units or the like, and the strips themselves indicate the desired (nominal or theoretical) and the actual value of the degree of utilization, such as the number of persons or machines assigned to a work, rate of output, or the like of the operating equipment or personnel of the locations or units. The strips are preferably controlled by a computer 26, as are also the strips 3i and 3k of the second board, there being applied to computer 26 the required input values, which are processed therein and transformed into output signals. The second board 2 is also provided with a time scale 12, which may indicate chronologically dates and/or weekdays and/or months. Provided in one field of board 2 are designations of various products corresponding to strips 3i, 3k, the strips showing the desired (nominal) and the actual amount of time spent in production. The embodiment shown possesses only pairs of strips 3i and 3k. However, it is just as possible, if several shifts are operating, to provide a corresponding number of strips for each product designation as well as an arrangement for indicating the desired (nominal) and the actual value for each shift. The strips may be of different construction, such as of different widths, colors or the like. For instance, all strips indicating actual values may be of the same type. Preferably, there is integrally combined with each indicator board a decoder for transforming the output signals of the computer, which may be in machine code, into a form suitable for application to the electroluminescent strips. Owing to the storage capability of a computer, it is also possible to represent on the boards values corresponding to arbitrary past periods in time. Furthermore, it is possible to monitor a continuously running machine, if the quantity to be measured is derived immediately from the machine itself. The arrangements described are therefore suitable for obtaining all sorts of values or quantities that may be of interest in connection with planning or monitoring the production of a plant or an office and for processing and indicating the same as rapidly as possible, there being no limits in this regard other than those depending on the size and storage capacity of the computer.

FIG. 6 shows an arrangement in which the display unit for optically displaying data or quantities representing characteristic features of a production process comprises an oscillograph 15 and a computer 26 connected thereto. The connection may be direct, but in the embodiment shown there is inserted between the computer and oscillograph 15 an encoder 16. The computer has stored therein all data that may be of interest, such as production and other quantities and amounts, work hours, machine or equipment capacities, prices, prime costs and the like together with corresponding programs and instructions which may represent the organization of a production process, time planning, pre-planning and so on. To represent or display the data of interest on the image screen 17 of the oscillograph, they are processed in the computer and transformed into electric signals, such as pulse sequences, which are supplied to the control circuits of the oscillograph. However, in the preferred embodiment shown, the computer supplies its output to an encoder 16, which performs a further processing and supplies its output signal to the control circuit of the image screen device. Decoder 16 is preferably provided with a repeating device, such as an endless magnetic tape storage device, to make it possible to repeat indefinitely the input signals supplied to the control circuits. The electric signals which may be pulse sequences, are rendered visible on image screen 17 as optical signals, which may take the form of lines 18 of a length corresponding to the measure of the corresponding data or quantity to be represented. Depending on the optical inertia of the image screen, several lines can be displayed simultaneously to the human eye. Since most oscillograph screens are provided with a raster pattern 19, this can be used as a reference scale for measuring the displayed quantities.

FIG. 7 shows a modified arrangement, in which a T.V. apparatus 20 is used as an image screen device, on the screen 17 of which a measure of the data or quantity characterizing an industrial or other process is displayed in the form of optical signals such as lines 18, beams 21 or the like. It is also possible to represent a quantity as a number or numeral 22 or to bring a corresponding legend to luminescence. The computer or the encoder 16, which is preferably connected thereto may in this case also be provided with a repeating unit and gives off electrical signals, such as pulse sequences, forming a video signal which is applied to the input control circuit of the apparatus. The pulse sequence is put together by the computer in accordance with the desired type of T.V. representation. In most cases, it will be sufficient to represent the optical signals as corresponding points of the image screen, which are brought to luminescence, and to leave all the remaining points dark. The reverse process, where the optical signals are represented as dark points on an otherwise luminous screen, would also be possible.

If the T.V. apparatus is capable of reproducing colors, data or quantities of particular interest, such as monthly balances, total productivity figures, optimal prices or the like could be made to stand out by means of differently colored optical signals. If no composite colors are used, this, of course, simplifies the control process of the apparatus.

It is also possible to arrange for predetermined sections of the screen to emit optical signals of a corresponding color. The incoming electrical signal may be automatically supplied to the electron gun corresponding to a preselected color to be used and to activate the gun to produce the optical signal when the corresponding image point falls in the desired section of the screen, such as the last hundred lines thereof. In a simplified modification, the tube may be provided with a screen having at least one section thereof provided with different phosphors for emitting different colors.

If production data are to be displayed in correlation with months or years, the optical signals corresponding to months could be displayed on a section of the screen which has a phosphor of conventional TV type and makes the corresponding signals appear in white or slightly bluish color, whereas the data corresponding to years are represented by points, for instance, in the section comprising the last 50 lines, which may comprise a phosphor of the type used in oscillographs, so as to make these image points appear green.

In any case, there is obtained a clear and easily evaluated representation of a number of quantities or corresponding optical displays, which are distinguished by different colors and are therefore easily grouped together.

However, the representation of data is not limited to the use of lines, beams, numbers or letters, as will be explained in the following.

FIG. 8 shows an embodiment having two image screens 17 and which is particularly suitable for conference purposes. The computer 26 and/or encoder 16 applies to the control circuits of an image screen device 23, electric signals such as pulse sequences, in the manner already described. The representation of data may be in the form of lines 18, beams 21, numbers, numerals, letters or symbols 22. However, it is also possible to represent the time variation of data as a linear graph 24 or a shaded area 25. If the image device is adapted for reproducing different colors, displays of particular interest can be either repeated once more or be represented separately on the second screen. Both screens can be of the type used in color television receivers. The two screens can be adapted to reproduce different unicolored optical signals or the screens may be of the type described in connection with FIG. 7, or a combination of both is possible.

The arrangement, therefore, makes it possible to obtain a modern, easily interpreted display of data representing production or other processes to the exclusion of human error. Owing to the great storage capacity and calculating speed of the computer, it is possible to represent to the viewer a large number of data in a minimum of time. These possibilities will be illustrated by the following.

The production planning of an enterprise gives rise to a problem of the following type:

The enterprise produces n products X1, X2 . . . Xn with the aid of m production facilities V1, V2 . . . Vm. The term "production facilities" is to be taken in its broadest sense and includes machines, personnel, raw materials, intermediate products, electric energy, storage space, transport vehicles, etc.

Normally, the most important facilities are machines and workers, which may form organized production units. The capacity of such a unit is the maximum amount produced in a certain interval.

Usually, it is desired to maximize the overall profit of the enterprise, which is a function of the quantities and types of products. For different products, the price includes different values of the components which together constitute the price quotation: variable cost, fixed cost and profit. The first two together form the prime cost and the last two the marginal cost.

Variable cost includes, for example, the cost of electric energy, raw materials, proportionate wages, etc. Fixed cost, which includes, for example, depreciation of equipment, rents, insurances, fixed wages, etc., remains unchanged regardless of whether equipment or labor is used productively or not.

As a simple example, assume that two products X1 and X2 are manufactured in quantities (so far unknown) of x and y and the corresponding profits per unit are a and b, respectively. The total profit is then expressed by the linear equation Z = ax + by; since the production capacity is limited, both x and y are limited and if further factors are taken into account, such as the fixed and variable costs of the products, marketing considerations, etc., additional conditions are to be met and new variables are introduced, such as the degree of utilization of different facilities. These additional conditions may also be expressed by equations, e.g. of linear character.

The totality of these equations constitutes an optimum model, especially a maximum profit model or minimum cost model indicating how the production should be planned. It is possible to arrive at values for the several variables by solving the usually very large number of equations of the optimum model obtained by known linear programming methods, preferably by means of a computer, to which there is fed the mathematical program for solving the system of equations as well as the input data representing the known properties of the production, such as capacities, profits of products, fixed costs, marketing considerations, etc.

The methods of obtaining the optimum models and solving the same by means of computers may be, for instance, of the types described in one of the following well-known textbooks:

Dorfman-Samuelson-Solow: Linear Programming and Economic Analysis, New York, 1958

Ferguson-Sargent: Linear Programming, New York, 1958

Manne-Markowitz: Studies in Process Analysis, New York, 1963

The theoretical value of the quantity of a product which has been obtained by the computer may now be multiplied with the corresponding marginal cost. This operation can be performed by the computer, which has already been supplied with information about the marginal costs of different products. The resulting value may be represented on a luminescent strip.

The marginal cost value supplied to the computer is, on the one hand, the so-called planned marginal cost obtained from the planned cost accounting or from a roughly estimated production program and, on the other hand, the actual marginal cost which is obtained as the difference between the effective net product sales and the product-variable costs. This is done since the quotation prices of the product arrived at by the cost accounting (with the product costs calculated by the cost accounting) usually do not correspond to the established actual product market prices which may differ also because of competitive grounds. Since, as a general rule, the product line formed of a number of different products is not permanent but, because of numerous influencing factors may be, and rationally should be, varied, it is advantageous -- as contemplated by the invention -- to indicate the actual marginal cost per product as well as its planned marginal cost not only as a mathematical but also as an optical (i.e. visual) magnitude. If the actual marginal costs are shown visually to be larger than the planned marginal cost of the products, an immediate overall visual survey meaningfully indicates not only the particularly profitable products, but also those products which, as a general rule, may be sold cheaper by the difference between the actual marginal cost and the planned marginal cost or those which, with their already well-established prices, particularly contribute to the profit buildup of the enterprise and therefore their production and sale should be encouraged. The same, but converse considerations apply for those products whose actual marginal cost is smaller than their planned marginal cost; a condition which is also visually recognizable according to the invention. These indications, which may thus also be represented visually, have a great significance for the determination of the product line and for market and price policy considerations. This significance of such indications is even more intensified by the fact that -- based on the marginal cost values per product supplied to the computer and based on the work plan per product and further, based on data which are also fed to the computer and which relate to available production capacities pertaining to equipment and labor per work station -- according to the invention, it may also be visually shown next to the visual indication of the production capacity, whether and to what measure does in a planned production program the production capacity fulfill the requirements in its entirety and also per operating work stations for both a single shift and a multiple shift operation (it is noted that a work plan discloses which work station is used to make the product and what average production times are needed for equipment and labor). In this manner, again, important indications are obtained for further investment policies since the operational bottlenecks are immediately visually recognizable in a positive manner. Since on the opposite side of the exemplarily described arrangement of the invention, not only the planned and actual marginal cost per product (and thus its meaningful difference) may be recognized, but there are also visually shown the absolute magnitudes of each planned product quantity or actual marginal costs derived from product quantities calculated and proposed by the computer based on a given optimal model. Such indications may furnish the management with further important keys for decision making. Since previously the computer also calculated from the given program the entire sum of the fixed costs relating to the operation (that is, the so-called actual total fixed cost), there is immediately shown not only digitally but also in a meaningful manner visually, with what type of product and product quantities (and the marginal costs resulting therefrom) will the actually present total fixed costs be fully covered. As a further result, the apparatus described by way of example, visually and digitally shows to what extent does the total profit of the enterprise increase if the available production capacities are fully balanced. Such result is obtained principally because, subsequent to covering the total actual fixed cost, the excess of the marginal cost values of the products gives the actual profit of the enterprise for the planned or computer-calculated optimal production program. These data are also optically and digitally visible. Thus, as a result, the invention assists in a particular manner the product line planning and production planning for a maximum profit.

The aforenoted considerations thus show the importance of a rapid indication of the actual and planned marginal cost as well as the magnitude obtained by multiplying the product quantity by its marginal cost. It is similarly important to show rapidly the utilization of operational capacity of the production program which is either planned in a conventional manner or is calculated by a computer based on an optimum model.

If the computer, based on the optimum model, calculates the quantities of the individual products, then, since the manufacturing steps of the individual products and the production factors necessary therefor are fixed, the utilization of the production capacity is determined. The speed of calculation and also a rapid visual indication of the results is of great importance since it is then possible to obtain various simulated programs which are close to reality. In practice, the determination of the production program is never left solely to the computer, not even if it works with mathematical optimum models. The reason is that there are constantly changes in the magnitudes of the influencing variables so that only a cooperation of the human spirit (usually taking effect as a result of teamwork of management), sales and operational leadership, cost accounting and further operational units, may result in a determination of the optimum product line and production program by utilizing the calculating speed and capacity of the computer and further utilizing suitable rapid visual indicator devices to illustrate the results automatically which is the purpose and the subject of the present invention.

In practice, there are thus preponderantly variable simulated situations which are "played through" mostly as a result of the teamwork of the departments in charge around the conference table utilizing a continuously changing quantity of operational data and accordingly, supplying different data quantities to the computer (which may be located on or off the premises). Thus, continuously changing products are often preplanned for production in determined quantities, because the sales department may have already fixed orders which have to be fulfilled in any case irrespective of whether these products are particularly profitable or not. Since such fixed planned product species and quantities (which may be determined for example in the course of a conference) are supplied as a so-called condition in an optimal model, the problem is thus always to optimize the remainder of the production program, that is, to optimize the still undecided product species and product quantities. In such cases, from the product line some preplanned individual products, based on definite sales considerations are included in the mathematical model as conditions and thus have an effect on the remainder of the optimized calculated results.

Thus, since such product line planning and production planning take place mostly as a teamwork and usually around a conference table, it is particularly important that a rapid calculating process and also a rapid optical indication of the results take place. The speed of obtaining results is not only dependent upon the calculating speed of the computer, but first of all, upon the type and extent of the program which, in turn, is dependent upon the number of the individual calculating steps which are necessarily tied with the basic mathematical optimum model. By weighing all circumstances, it may be said that a larger tolerance in the accuracy of the results is of lesser importance than a smaller tolerance which latter, however, gives rise to unproportionately longer calculating times of the computer.

For a solving process in case of a practically still representable, somewhat at greater tolerance of the calculator results, the so-called "transporting method" and thereamong preferably the so-called "Hungarian Method" is very rapid; it requires only one-tenth of the calculating period compared with other solving processes. The so-called Hungarian Method, as a variant of the so-called "transporting method" is described in detail particularly in H. C. Joksch: Lineares Programmieren, Tubingen, 1965, pp. 159-167.

These considerations illustrate the importance of a rapid display of nominal and actual marginal costs.

If the computer calculates optimal values of the quantities of different products, it may be programmed to derive therefrom the degree of utilization of the corresponding production facilities. This makes it possible to ascertain if adjustment of the running program should be made, e.g. it may turn out that one production unit can do the job originally envisaged for two units.

A visual inspection of the board may indicate that a correction should be made in the data or the program supplied to the computer, and the result of such an alteration will then be immediately visible.

It is clear from the above that not only the maximum profit but other optimal conditions may be obtained in similar manner. In many enterprises, such as base material industries, oil shipping and other transport companies, the counterpart of maximum production would be optimum transportation of goods. Assume, for instance, that a company possesses m mines W1, W2 . . . Wm and n blast furnaces H1, H2 . . . Hn at different locations, and the maximum output of the mines and the capacities of the furnaces are known, as well as the cost of transport from any mine to any furnace. It is then of importance to find a transportation plan representing a minimum of cost.

The solution of a model of this type of problem can be found preferably by means of the aforenoted Hungarian Method, described in the cited reference. The result is a set of output values from the computer that may be represented on the indicator board of the present invention.

The term "production process", as used in the present specification and claims, is, therefore, to be taken in its broadest sense to include the production not only of material products but of any kind of effort or work, such as transportation work.