Using MS ACCESS to create routings in process flow

I have a production process with 5 processing centers, for instance:
PC1 is forming
PC2 is welding
PC3 is final assy
PC4 is testing
PC5 is Crating

I would like to create a routine in MS ACCESS that generates all possible paths (routings) for a part or set of parts subject to the following conditions:

Parts can go to any sequence of process centers, minimum number of steps is 1, maximum is 8. I would like to be able to specify the min and max limits.

There are a couple of configurations:
1) Parts can visit the same process center more than once but I'd like to be able to specify the limit of visits to any one process center to 3. So, for instance, I would allow a PC1, PC3, PC4, PC5, PC3, PC4, PC3, PC5 routing.
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Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE )Connect With a Mentor Infotrakker SoftwareCommented:
BTW, I agree with Jeff - I can't see the need to consider all valid paths. The actual number of those would be very large, as Dale pointed out, so I can't see the value in doing something like this.

If your intent is to insure your work processes follow a specific path, then you need to define that path for each process. Otherwise, you run the risk of an invalid process being considered valid - since a valid process for PartA may not be a valid process for PartB.

I deal with some very complex MRP/ERP and Process Flow programs, and all of them allow the user to create "Templates" or "Operations" where a user defines the specific Routings and Operations needed to complete a process - but none of them validate against a full set of all possible combinations. They simply validate against the stored template, based on the "process" the user is executing.

If you have multiple processes that can be performed for the same part ... then I'd suggest you're not really dealing with the SAME part, but rather a subset/component of a part, or an entirely different part which would need it's own set of instructions.
Dale FyeConnect With a Mentor Commented:
This isn't a homework assignment, is it?

Well, if you leave out the restriction of no specific process may be visited more than 3 times, it would be the sum of 5^1 + 5^2 + ... + 5^8 = 488,280 combinations.  But the limitation on no single process being "visited" more than 3 times will lower that number of possible combinations significantly.

But to actually generate the set of values, you would have to create an outer loop to determine the # of steps, and then a recursive function that would generate N numbers, and then a series of steps to assess whether the sequence meets your 3 "visits" criteria.
EdLBAuthor Commented:
No but it would make a good one. It is a real world problem for setting up a general model of a production. I think I've found a more practical approach since there is usually lots of knowledge of the process to begin with.
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Jeffrey CoachmanMIS LiasonCommented:
I can see the need for the reverse:

For a given scenario, ... Check to see if the "path" is valid, ...for example:

IsValidPath(PC1, PC3, PC4, PC5, PC3, PC4, PC3, PC5)=True
IsValidPath(PC1, PC3, PC4, PC5, PC3, PC4, PC3, PC5, PC6)=False
IsValidPath(PC1, PC3, PC4, PC5, PC3, PC4, PC3, PC5, PC3)=False
...But I cannot understand the need to generate *All* valid paths...
What would a master list be used for?
Would someone be validating this "Manually"?!?

as always, ...explaining the ultimate need is always helpful to guide experts to an efficient solution.

Jeffrey CoachmanMIS LiasonCommented:
It is also not clear how each segment is being generated or how it will be stored.
Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE )Infotrakker SoftwareCommented:
I think I've found a more practical approach
So do you still need help with this?
Dale FyeCommented:
Oh, and I forgot that you would also want to rule out any instance of two consecutive visits to the same process (probably).
EdLBAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the comments. The idea of generating all possible solutions is impractical. And besides, in production facilities there is someone who knows something about routings and can specify.
Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE )Infotrakker SoftwareCommented:
there is someone who knows something about routings and can specify.
I would most fervently hope so, otherwise they'd have a very difficult time producing anything :)
EdLBAuthor Commented:
Roger that.
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