Economic lot scheduling problem
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The economic lot scheduling problem (ELSP) is a problem in operations management that has been studied by a large number of researchers for more than 50 years. The term was first used in 1958 by professor Jack D. Rogers of Berkeley, who extended the economic order quantity model to the case where there are several products to be produced on the same machine, so that one must decide both the lot size for each product and when each lot should be produced. The ELSP is a mathematical model of a common issue for almost any company or industry: planning what to manufacture, when to manufacture and how much to manufacture.
The classic ELSP is concerned with scheduling the production of several products on a single machine in order to minimize the total costs incurred (which include setup costs and inventory holding costs).
We assume a known, non-varying demand for the N products (for example, there might be N=3 products and customers require 7 items a day of Product 1, 5 items a day of Product 2 and 2 items a day of Product 3). Customer demand is met from inventory and the inventory is replenished by our production facility.
A single machine is available which can make all the products, but not in a perfectly interchangeable way. Instead the machine needs to be set up to produce one product, incurring a setup cost and/or setup time, after which it will produce this product at a known rate . When it is desired to produce a different product, the machine is stopped and another costly setup is required to begin producing the next product. Let be the setup cost when switching from product i to product j; and let be the setup time.
In addition, an inventory cost is charged based on average inventory level of each item.
(To give a very concrete example, the machine might be a bottling machine and the products could be cases of bottled apple juice, orange juice and milk. The setup corresponds to the process of stopping the machine, cleaning it out and loading the tank of the machine with the desired fluid. This product switching must not be done too often or the setup costs will be large, but equally too long a production run of apple juice would be undesirable because it would lead to a large inventory cost for unsold cases of apple juice and perhaps stock-outs in orange juice and milk. The ELSP seeks the optimal tradeoff between these two extremes.)
Of great importance in practice is to design, plan and operate shared capacity across multiple products with changeover times and costs in an uncertain demand environment. Beyond the selection of (expected) cycle times, with some amount of slack designed in (“safety time”), one has to also consider the amount of safety stock (buffer stock) that is needed to meet desired service level.
The problem is well known in the operations research community, and a large body of academic research work has been created to improve the model and to create new variations that solve specific issues.
The model is known as a NP-hard problem since it is not currently possible to find the optimal solution without checking nearly every possibility. What has been done follows two approaches: restricting the solution to be of a specific type (which makes it possible to find the optimal solution for the narrower problem), or approximate solution of the full problem using heuristics or genetic algorithms.
- S E Elmaghraby: The Economic Lot Scheduling Problem (ELSP): Review and Extensions, Management Science, Vol. 24, No. 6, February 1978, pp. 587–598
- M A Lopez, B G Kingsman: The Economic Lot Scheduling Problem: Theory and Practice, International Journal of Production Economics, Vol. 23, October 1991, pp. 147–164
- Michael Pinedo, Planning and Scheduling in Manufacturing and Services, Springer, 2005. ISBN 0-387-22198-0
- Jack D. Rogers: A Computational Approach to the Economic Lot Scheduling Problem, Management Science, Vol. 4, No. 3, April 1958, pp. 264–291