Abstract:
In this research, a bi-criteria batching and scheduling problem is investigated in hybrid flow shop environments, where unrelated-parallel machines are run simultaneously with different capacities and eligibilities in processing, in some stages. The objective is to simultaneously minimize a linear combination of the total weighted completion time and total weighted tardiness. The first favors the producer’s interest by minimizing work-in-process inventory, inventory holding cost, and energy consumption as well as maximizing machine utilization, while the second favors the customers’ interest by maximizing customers’ service level and delivery speed. In particular, it disregards the group technology assumptions (GTAs) by allowing for the possibility of splitting pre-determined groups of jobs into inconsistent batches in order to improve the operational efficiency. A comparison between the group scheduling and batch scheduling approaches reveals the outstanding performance of the batch scheduling approach. As a result, contrary to the GTAs, jobs belonging to a group might be processed on more than one machine as batches, but not all machines may be capable of processing all jobs. A sequence- and machine-dependent setup time is required between each of two consecutively scheduled batches belonging to different groups. Based on manufacturing company policy, the desired lower bounds on batch sizes are considered for the number of jobs assigned to batches. Although, the direction in which all jobs move through production line is the same, some jobs may skip some stages. Furthermore, to reflect real industry requirements, the job release times and the machine availability times are considered to be dynamic, which means not all machines and jobs are available at the beginning of the planning horizon.
The problem is formulated with the help of four mixed-integer linear programming (MILP) models. Two out of four MILP models are formulated as two integrated phases, i.e., batching and scheduling phases, with respect to the precedence constraints between each pair of jobs/batches and/or the position concept within batches. The optimal combination between batch compositions of groups are determined in the batching phase, while the optimal assignment and sequence of batches on machines and sequence of jobs within batches are determined in the scheduling phase, with respect to a set of operational constraints. A batch composition of a group corresponding to a particular stage, determined in the batching phase of the MILP model, represents the number of batches assigned to the group as well as the number and type of jobs belonging to each batch of that group. Since the first and second MILP models lead to unmanageable solution space, the relaxed MILP model, which allocates one and only one job to each batch of each group in each stage, can be developed to focus on the non-dominated solution space. The optimal solutions of MILP models and relaxed MILP model are equal, if and only if the optimal solution of the relaxed MILP model does not violate the desired lower bounds on batch sizes. Since the relaxed MILP model cannot guarantee the optimal solution of the MILP models, a third MILP model is developed by integrating batching and scheduling phases. This MILP model eliminates an exhaustive combination enumeration between batch compositions of all groups in all stages. Although the third MILP model converges to the optimal solution slower than the relaxed MILP model, it guarantees finding the optimal solution of the first and second MILP models. A comparison between four MILP models shows the superior performance of the third MILP model.
However, since the problem is strongly NP-hard, it is not possible to find its optimal solution within a reasonable time as the problem size increases from small to medium to large, even by the relaxed MILP model or the fourth MILP model. Therefore, several meta-heuristic algorithms based upon basic local search, basic population-based search, and hybridization of local search and population-based searches are developed, which move back and forth between batching and scheduling phases. Tabu Search (TS) is implemented as a basic local search algorithm, while Tabu Search/Path-Relinking (TS/PR) is implemented as a local search algorithm enhanced with a population-based structure. TS is incorporated into the framework of path-relinking to exploit the information on good solutions. The TS/PR algorithm comprises several distinguishing features including relinking procedures to effectively explore trajectories connecting elite solutions and the methods used to choose the reference solution. Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) is implemented as a basic population-based algorithm, while Particle Swarm Optimization enhanced with a local search algorithm (PSO/LSA) is developed to realize the benefits of batching and, consequently, enhance the quality of solutions.
Since there is interdependency between positions of a job in different stages of a hybrid flow shop in batch scheduling, a meta-heuristic algorithm is not capable of capturing these interdependencies and, subsequently, its efficacy can be diminished. In order to capture this interdependency, the non-, partial- complete-, and stage-based interdependency strategy are developed. In the stage-based-interdependency strategy, a complete sequence related to all of the stages is gradually determined, stage by stage. An initial solution finding mechanism is developed to trigger the search into the solution space and generate an initial population. The performances of these algorithms are compared to each other in order to identify which algorithm(s) outperforms the others. Nevertheless, the performances of the best algorithm(s) are evaluated with respect to a tight lower bound obtained from a branch-and-price (B&P) algorithm.
The B&P algorithm uses Dantzig-Wolfe decomposition (DWD) to divide the original problem into a master problem and several sub-problems (SPs) corresponding to each stage. The original problem is decomposed into the SPs by three DWDs corresponding to the three MILP models. Although, by applying DWD technique in the first and second MILP models, an exhaustive combination enumeration between batch compositions of all groups in all stages is excluded and, as a result, the SPs are easier to solve than the original problem, they are still strongly NP-hard because of an enormous number of combinations between batch compositions of all groups in each stage. However, the DWD technique corresponding to the relaxed MILP model not only drastically reduces the number of variables and constraints in the SPs, but also eliminates the batching phase of the first and second MILP models. Decomposing the original problem based on the relaxed MILP model and implementing the B&P algorithm cannot guarantee optimal solutions or tight lower bounds of problems unless the number of violations in the desired lower bounds on batch sizes is not significant. Therefore, the third MILP model is decomposed by DWD so that the B&P algorithm is capable of finding tight lower bounds even for large-size instances of the problem.
A comparison between the lower bounds obtained from the B&P algorithm and CPLEX reveals the impressive performance of the B&P algorithm, particularly for large-size problems. The evaluation of the best algorithms based upon these tight lower bounds developed by the B&P algorithm, uncovers the outstanding performance of hybrid algorithms compared to the results obtained from CPLEX.