Production scheduling is the phase of production management that produces a detailed description of operations to be executed in a given period of time, typically short. Production planning, instead, is characterized, compared to production scheduling, by an higher level of abstraction and a longer time period of interest. In most manufacturing systems the two main objectives to be achieved in production planning and scheduling are the maximization of the total value produced by the plant and the on-time delivery of the final products.
These two objectives are often in conflict with each other. Compared to other manufacturing processes, the pharmaceutical industry gives higher importance to on-time delivery over throughput maximization, due to the economical and legal implications of late deliveries and stock-outs at the final customers.
Given the complexity of the production process and the issue of on-time delivery, it’s difficult to have plans well balanced with the production capacity.
In this contest, it is evident that scheduling is a critical operation and so, that an automated scheduling system is important, both to obtain good scheduling solutions and to have a better control of the production process. A first aim of this thesis is to give a demonstration of the improvements that may
derive from an automated scheduling, by taking into account a real case study of production scheduling in a pharmaceutical industry, in the specific, in its Packaging department. At the same time, in this thesis, the issue concerning the difficulty of solving practical scheduling problems is arisen.
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