An Application of Mathematical Optimization to Autoclave Packing and Scheduling in a Composites Manufacturing Facility
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An industry problem regarding autoclave packing and scheduling in a composites manufacturing facility is examined. The hill-climbing method is modified and applied to solving the packing of autoclaves, which is a modified bin packing problem. A mixed-integer linear program is formulated and applied to solve the scheduling of autoclave loads throughout the planning horizon. The scheduling problem takes into account utilization of resources at steps prior to the curing process, autoclave blackout times for anticipated downtime, weekend overtime, tool desired recycle times, incentivizes the creation of usable gaps, and minimizes peak power consumption. Both the autoclave packing problem and the scheduling problem are combined in a software which has been tested and delivered to industry. Solution of the mixed-integer linear program makes use of cloud technology to allow for flexible licensing options of an expensive state-of-the-art mathematical solver.