Human Performance in Planning and Scheduling

By Bart MacCarthy; John Wilson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Planning and Scheduling in the Batch Chemical Industry

Jan C. Fransoo and Wenny H.M. Raaymakers


16.1

INTRODUCTION

The process industry can be considered as a specific domain within planning and scheduling. This is due to a number of specific characteristics, which have been well documented and will be discussed in this chapter. The subject of study in this chapter is the batch chemical industry, being a subset within the process industry domain. The batch chemical industry is characterised by very complex and long processes and process structures. Process structures are complex due to the large variety in processes and consequently the large variety in resources that are used in that industry. In addition, many sequencing constraints dictate the operational scheduling of the jobs, such as sequences with no-wait restrictions on them. The processes themselves are long, with days more typical than hours needed to characterise their length. In addition, a customer order consists of a fairly large number of jobs, thus resulting in lead times typically measured in months rather than weeks.

These complex and time-spanning characteristics lead to a necessity to decompose the overall planning and scheduling problem. In such a division of tasks, the planners are responsible for long-term co-ordination of the various jobs out of which a customer order is built. The planners make commitments to customers regarding quantities and due dates. They also plan the various jobs over time and load them into time buckets and onto processing departments. The processing departments usually have a departmental scheduler who constructs the detailed job schedule. The main task of the departmental scheduler is to schedule the set of jobs allocated to the department in a specific period such that this set of jobs can be completed within the specified time frame. In this chapter, the process will be described in more detail, based on actual observations at a batch chemical manufacturer.

The main dilemma in such a hierarchical structure is the content and extent of communication between the planners and schedulers. On the one hand, the planners are expected to make an adequate assessment of the feasibility of the job set, requiring a fairly detailed insight into the constraints on the shop floor in the departments. On the other hand, they are expected to make a long-term plan, covering the entire horizon of the customer order, estimating lead times and variability in lead times. This enables them to commit to the customers and to make sure that the various departments in the factory are loaded as evenly as possible over time. The schedulers, in their turn, are expected to make a schedule for a job set which they basically cannot influence, such that the job set is

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