Webinar: Ecological Network Analysis to Optimize Business

Michael Helms & Marc Weissburg of Georgia Tech
Wednesday June 27, 2018 11:30am12:30pm
at your desk

Minimizing material and energy inputs and waste outputs in manufacturing and operation leads to increased profits and more sustainable practices. Although we commonly approach this problem by optimizing unit processes, this perspective ignores gains that can be achieved by considering interactions among individual components that comprise the entire system.  Systems level analysis reveals hidden synergies, opportunities, and constraints that are not apparent at the individual process level.  Since resiliency is a systems level property, the capacity to maintain functioning in the face of perturbation can be examined only at this level.

Natural systems operate under material and energy constraints, and self-organize into efficient systems that cycle material and energy effectively, or perform complex tasks efficiently with no central guiding authority.  Any human system where different components consume, produce, and transfer material or energy can be analyzed using the methods that have been developed and tested through research on natural ecologies.  Insights gained from understanding self-organized natural groups can be applied to multi-agent human or other systems, particularly those connected to each other by peer-to-peer systems or the IoT.

This presentation will explore how principles from natural systems can be used to optimize business systems, with examples from single industrial plants, manufacturing systems within a single industry, systems of collocated industries, and even multi-agent human systems.  We will describe a set of optimization tools/methods, examine the benefits of application, and explore their relevance to the webinar participants.