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Title:  Heuristic Scheduling Algorithms For Parallel Heterogeneous Batch Processors 
Authors:  Mathirajan, M 
Advisors:  Vijay Chandru, * 
Submitted Date:  Nov2000 
Publisher:  Indian Institute of Science 
Abstract:  In the last decade, market pressures for greater variety of products forced a gradual shift from continuous manufacturing to batch manufacturing in various industries. Consequently batch scheduling problems have attracted the attention of researchers in production and operations management.
This thesis addresses the scheduling of parallel nonidentical batch processors in the presence of dynamic job arrivals, incompatible jobfamilies and nonidentical job sizes. This problem abstracts the scheduling of heattreatment furnace operations of castings in a steel foundry. The problem is of considerable interest in this sector as a large proportion of the total production time is spent in heat treatment processing. This problem is also encountered in other industrial settings such as burnin operation in the final testing stage of semiconductor manufacturing, and manufacturing of steel, ceramics, aircraft parts, footwear, etc. A detailed literature review and personal communications with experts revealed that this class of batch scheduling problems have not been addressed hitherto.
A major concern in the management of foundries is to maximize throughput and reduce flow time and workinprocess inventories. Therefore we have chosen the primary scheduling objective to be the utilization of batch processors and as secondary objectives the minimization of overall flow time and weighted average waiting time per job. This formulation can be considered as an extension of problems studied by DOBSON AND NAMBINADOM (1992), UZSOY (1995), ZEE et a/. (1997) and MEHTA AND UZSOY (1998). Our effort to carefully catalogue the large number of variants of deterministic batch scheduling problems led us to the development of a taxonomy and notation.
Not surprisingly, we are able to show that our problem is NPhard and is therefore in the company of many scheduling problems that are difficult to solve. Initially two heuristic algorithms, one a mathematical programming based heuristic algorithm (MPHA) and the other a greedy heuristic algorithm were developed. Due to the computational overheads in the implementation of MPHA when compared with the greedy heuristic, we chose to focus on the latter as the primary scheduling methodology.
Preliminary experimentation led us to the observation that the performance of greedy heuristics depends critically on the selection of jobfamilies. So eight variants of the greedy heuristic that differ mainly in the decision on "jobfamily selection" were proposed. These eight heuristics are basically two sets {Al, A2, A3, A4} and the modified (MAI, MA2, MA3, MA4}, which differ only on how the "jobfamily" index, weighted shortest processing time, is computed.
For evaluating the performance of the eight heuristics, computational experiments were carried out. The analysis of the experimental data is presented in two perspectives. The goal of the first perspective was to evaluate the absolute quality of the solutions obtained by the proposed heuristic algorithms when compared with estimated optimal solutions. The second perspective was to compare the relative performance of the proposed heuristics.
The test problems generated were designed to reflect realworld scheduling problems that we have observed in the steelcasting industry. Three important problem parameters for the test set generation are the number of jobs [n], jobpriority [P], and jobfamily [F]. We considered 5 different levels for n, 2 different levels for P and 2 different levels for F. The test set reflects (i) the size of the jobs vary uniformly (ii) there are two batch processors and (iii) five incompatible jobfamilies with different processing times. 15 problem instances were generated for each level of (n, P, and F).
Out of many procedures available in the literature for estimating optimal value for combinatorial optimization problems, we used the procedure based on Weibull distribution as discussed in Rardin and Uzsoy (2001). For each problem instance of the randomly generated 300 problem instances, 15 feasible solutions (i.e., the average utilization of batch processors (AUBP)) were obtained using "random decision rule for first two stages and using a "bestfit heuristic' for the last stage of the scheduling problem. These 15 feasible solutions were used to estimate the optimal value. The generated 15 feasible solutions are expected to provide the estimated optimal value of the problem instance with a very high probability.
Both average performance and worstcase performance of the heuristics indicated that, the heuristic algorithms A3 and A4, on the average yielded better utilization than the estimated optimal value. This indicates that the Weibullbased technique may have yielded conservative estimates of the optimal value. Further, the other heuristic algorithms found inferior solutions when compared with the estimated optimal value. But the deviations were very small. From this, we may infer that all the proposed heuristic algorithms are acceptable.
The relative evaluation of heuristics was in terms of both computational effort and the quality of the solution. For the heuristics, it was clear that the computational burden is low enough on the average to run all the proposed heuristics on each problem instance and select the best solution. Also, it is observed that any algorithm from the first set of {Al, A2, A3, and A4} takes more computational time than any one from the second set {MAI, MA2, MA3, and MA4}. Regarding solution quality, the following inferences were made:
٭ In general the heuristic algorithms are sensitive to the choice of problem factors with
respect to all the scheduling objectives.
٭ The three algorithms A3, MA4 and MAI are observed to be superior with respect to the scheduling objectives: maximizing average utilization of batch processors (AUBP),
minimization of overall flow time (OFT) and minimizing weighted average waiting time
(WAWT) respectively. Further, the heuristic algorithm MAI turns out to be the best
choice if we tradeoff all three objectives AUBP, OFT and WAWT.
Finally we carried out simple sensitivity analyses experiments in order to understand the influence of some parameters of the scheduling on the performance of the heuristic algorithms. These were related to one at a time changes in (1) jobsize distribution, (2) capacities of batch processors and (3) processing time of jobfamilies. From the analyses it appears that there is an influence of changes in these input parameters. The results of the sensitivity analyses can be used to guide the selection of a heuristic for a particular combination of input parameters. For example, if we have to pick a single heuristic algorithm, then MAI is the best choice when considering the performance and the robustness indicated by the sensitivity analysis.
In summary, this thesis examined a problem arising in the scheduling of heattreatment operations in the steelcasting industry. This problem was abstracted to a class of deterministic batch scheduling problems. We analyzed the computational complexity of this problem and showed that it is NPhard and therefore unlikely to admit a scalable exact method. Eight variants of a fast greedy heuristic were designed to solve the scheduling problem of interest.
Extensive computational experiments were carried out to compare the performance of the heuristics with estimated optimal values (using the Weibull technique) and also for relative effectiveness and this showed that the heuristics are capable of consistently obtaining nearestimated) optimal solutions with very low computational burden for the solution of large scale problems. Finally, a comprehensive sensitivity analysis was carried out to study the influence of a few parameters, by changing them one at a time, on the performance of the heuristic algorithms. This type of analysis gives users some confidence in the robustness of the proposed heuristics. 
URI:  http://etd.iisc.ernet.in/handle/2005/196 
Appears in Collections:  Management Studies (mgmt)

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