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It is generally accepted that the metal-cutting rates employed in industry could be increased substantially, with very considerable improvements in the profitability of machine shops. This is particularly true of batch-production shops employing numerically controlled machines where, owing to uncertainties concerning the metal-cutting process, cutting speeds are generally much lower than they could be. This paper examines in some detail the problem of overall online computer control of a batch-production shop. Control is envisaged at various levels, the lowest level being online to the cutting process, and the highest level being concerned with scheduling and operational decisions which determine the best job for each machine and its time of loading. The decisions made at these different levels are essentially interrelated, and the paper puts forward an overall system which, it is believed, can bring about considerable increases in the profitability of batch production.