Integrated Sequencing and Scheduling in Coil Coating

Research Area: Algorithms for Complex Scheduling Problems Year: 2011
Type of Publication: Article
Authors: Wiebke Höhn; Felix G. König; Marco E. Lübbecke; Rolf H. Möhring
Journal: Management Science Volume: 57
Number: 4 Pages: 647-666
Finalist for the EURO Excellence in Practice Award 2009.
We consider a complex planning problem in integrated steel production. A sequence of coils of sheet metal needs to be color coated in consecutive stages. Different coil geometries and changes of colors necessitate time-consuming setup work. In most coating stages one can choose between two parallel color tanks. This can either reduce the number of setups needed or enable setups concurrent with production. A production plan comprises the sequencing of coils and the scheduling of color tanks and setup work. The aim is to minimize the makespan for a given set of coils. We present an optimization model for this integrated sequencing and scheduling problem. A core component is a graph theoretical model for concurrent setup scheduling. It is instrumental for building a fast heuristic that is embedded into a genetic algorithm to solve the sequencing problem. The quality of our solutions is evaluated via an integer program based on a combinatorial relaxation, showing that our solutions are within 10% of the optimum. Our algorithm is implemented at Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH, a major German steel producer. This has led to an average reduction in makespan by over 13% and has greatly exceeded expectations.
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