Campaign planning for multi-stage batch processes in the chemical industry

Research paper by Martin Grunow, Hans-Otto Günther, Matthias Lehmann

Indexed on: 01 Aug '02Published on: 01 Aug '02Published in: OR Spectrum


Inspired by a case study from industry, the production of special chemical products is considered. In this industrial environment, multi-purpose equipment is operated in batch mode to carry out the diverse processing tasks. Often, extensive set-up and cleaning of the equipment are required when production switches between different types of products. Hence, processes are scheduled in campaign mode, i.e. a number of batches of the same type are processed in sequence. The production of chem ical products usually involves various stages with significant cumulative lead times. Typically, these production stages are assigned to different plants. A hierarchical modelling approach is presented which co-ordinates the various plant operations within the entire supply network. In the first stage, the length of the campaigns, their timing, the corresponding material flows, and equipment requirements have to be determined. At this stage, an aggregation scheme based on feasibility constraints is employed in order to reflect the limited availability of the various types of production equipment. The second stage consists of an assignment model, which allocates the available equipment units between the production campaigns determined in the first stage of the solution procedure. In the third stage, resource conflicts are resolved, which may occur if clean-out operations and minimal campaign lengths have to be considered. The proposed hierarchical approach allows a more compact model formulation compared to ot her approaches known from the literature. As a result, a very efficient and flexible solution approach is obtained. In particular, commercially available standard solvers can be used to solve a wide range of campaign planning problems arising in the chemical industry.