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The quality-constrained scheduling problem in plastics compounding



Interest is increasing in plastic compounding plants that offer tailor-made resins. Such plants produce a wide range of products in small quantities and with frequent changeovers. The underlying scheduling problem has been extensively researched; however, the concept of incorporating qualities of the finished product in the problem of plastics compounding has not been considered.

We express product qualities as an additional problem constraint so that the production schedule ensures product quality. The additional constraint makes this mixed integer nonlinear program (MINLP) problem more difficult to solve. Several case studies are solved to illustrate the utility of the proposed approach.

Experiments demonstrated that qualities of the finished product can be ensured a priori if the appropriate relations are developed and integrated in the optimisation model. As well, this paper provides insight into the economic aspects of the scheduling problem under consideration. Experiments showed that none of the cost components (operation, raw material, inventory, penalty or utilities) can alone play the role of the optimisation criterion. © 2012 Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering