In this paper, we address a multi-purpose machine scheduling problem  with additional constraints related to the availability of tools and operators, removal and setup times, release times, due dates and deadlines. The objectives are the joint minimization of makespan and maximum tardiness, which are addressed in lexicographic order. The problem is motivated by the practical implementation
of a decision support system for scheduling the production orders at the packaging department of a pharmaceutical plant located in Italy. A detailed description of the problem is given in Section 2. Previous attempts to design a computerized tool for production scheduling at this department have had limited success, and similar performance has been observed in practice for many computerized tools for planning and scheduling [11,12]. A common reason for this behavior is that the models adopted by computerized systems suffer from excessive simplification and do not incorporate all the relevant aspects of the shop floor .
In fact, most optimization algorithms from the scheduling literature are mainly concerned with the computation of optimal or near-optimal solutions to very simplified problems [16,20]. According to the survey of Reisman et al. , out of 170 articles on flowshop scheduling/sequencing published from 1952 to 1994 only 5 were judged to be true applications. On the other hand, in the last years an increasing number of articles focus on realistic scheduling models including more practical constraints than in the past [15,17,20].
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