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Reactive Scheduling of a Distributed Network for the Supply of Perishable Products

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3 Author(s)
Naso, D. ; Politecnico di Bari, Bari ; Surico, M. ; Turchiano, B.

This paper considers the problem of coordinating the production and distribution activities of a network of independent supply centers. In particular, we focus on the supply of rapidly perishable goods (ready-mixed concrete) that must be delivered to customers in strict time windows. The problem presents three main challenges. First, it includes several interrelated scheduling and routing problems, each affected by nearly prohibitive combinatorial complexity. Second, due to the perishable nature of the supplied products, effective solutions must not only optimize the objective function related to resource utilization and cost minimization, but also tolerate the small and frequent stochastic perturbations (transport delays) of the operating environment. Third, if major perturbations occur, the decision strategy must be able to respond in real time with effective rescheduling interventions restoring the indispensable synchronization of activities in progress, and avoiding extremely undesirable circumstances related to product decay. After providing a detailed mathematical model of the considered problem, this paper proposes a hybrid metaheuristic approach integrating a genetic algorithm with a number of problem-specific constructive heuristics. The effectiveness of the approach is evaluated against other scheduling heuristics on an industrial case study.

Published in:

Automation Science and Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:4 ,  Issue: 3 )

Date of Publication:

July 2007

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