A real-time simulation-based optimisation environment for industrial scheduling
n order to cope with the challenges in industry today, such as changes in product diversity and production volume, manufacturing companies are forced to react more flexibly and swiftly. Furthermore, in order for them to survive in an ever-changing market, they also need to be highly competitive by achieving near optimal efficiency in their operations. Production scheduling is vital to the success of manufacturing systems in industry today, because the near optimal allocation of resources is essential in remaining highly competitive. The overall aim of this study is the advancement of research in manufacturing scheduling through the exploration of more effective approaches to address complex, real-world manufacturing flow shop problems. The methodology used in the thesis is in essence a combination of systems engineering, algorithmic design and empirical experiments using real-world scenarios and data. Particularly, it proposes a new, web services-based, industrial scheduling system framework, called OPTIMISE Scheduling System (OSS), for solving real-world complex scheduling problems. OSS, as implemented on top of a generic web services-based simulation-based optimisation (SBO) platform called OPTIMISE, can support near optimal and real-time production scheduling in a distributed and parallel computing environment. Discrete-event simulation (DES) is used to represent and flexibly cope with complex scheduling problems without making unrealistic assumptions which are the major limitations of existing scheduling methods proposed in the literature. At the same time, the research has gone beyond existing studies of simulation-based scheduling applications, because the OSS has been implemented in a real-world industrial environment at an automotive manufacturer, so that qualitative evaluations and quantitative comparisons of scheduling methods and algorithms can be made with the same framework. Furthermore, in order to be able to adapt to and handle many different types of real-world scheduling problems, a new hybrid meta-heuristic scheduling algorithm that combines priority dispatching rules and genetic encoding is proposed. This combination is demonstrated to be able to handle a wider range of problems or a current scheduling problem that may change over time, due to the flexibility requirements in the real-world. The novel hybrid genetic representation has been demonstrated effective through the evaluation in the real-world scheduling problem using real-world data.
- PhD