Production and Operations Management, vol.6, no.1, pp.74-96, 1997 (SCI-Expanded)
Lot streaming is the process of splitting a job or lot into sublots to reduce its makespan on a sequence of machines. The goal in the lot streaming problem is to find the optimal size of each sublot that will minimize the makespan. The makespan is defined as the time the last sublot completes its processing on the last machine. If the sizes of these sublots are restricted to remain the same on all machines, the solution is called a consistent sublot solution. However, if the sizes of the sublots are allowed to vary, the solution is referred to as a nonconsistent or variable sublot solution. Also, if the machines must be in operation continuously from the first to the last sublot, the solution is a no idling solution. When setups are explicitly considered in the problem, there will be two cases. If setups on each machine require some portion of the first sublot be present by the machine, the problem is referred to as the attached setup time problem. If setups can be performed ahead of time before the first sublot reaches the particular machine, the corresponding problem is referred to as the detached setup problem. Finally, if the machines are allowed to be idle between the processing of sublots, the resultant solution is an intermittent idling solution. In this paper, the consistent sublot lot streaming problem with intermittent idling and no setups is discussed. The models developed also assume that the number of sublots are fixed and known. The m machine two sublot lot streaming problem is reviewed. An algorithm for the three sublot, m machine problem is derived using a network representation of the problem. The complexity of the algorithm is O (m2). Finally, using the insights from three sublot problem, a heuristic algorithm is provided for the m machine, n sublot problems. The results on the proposed heuristic are very encouraging; average percent deviation from optimal makespan is approximately at 0.76% on 155 randomly generated problems with different m and n values.