Optimisation models and algorithms for workforce scheduling and routing

Castillo Salazar, José Arturo (2015) Optimisation models and algorithms for workforce scheduling and routing. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis investigates the problem of scheduling and routing employees that are required to perform activities at clients’ locations. Clients request the activities to be performed during a time period. Employees are required to have the skills and qualifications necessary to perform their designated activities. The working time of employees must be respected. Activities could require more than one employee. Additionally, an activity might have time-dependent constraints with other activities. Time-dependent activities constraints include: synchronisation, when two activities need to start at the same time; overlap, if at any time two activities are being performed simultaneously; and with a time difference between the start of the two activities. Such time difference can be given as a minimum time difference, maximum time difference, or a combination of both (min-max). The applicability of such workforce scheduling and routing problem (WSRP) is found in many industries e.g. home health care provision, midwives visiting future mothers, technicians performing installations and repairs, estate agents showing residences for sale, security guards patrolling different locations, etc. Such diversity makes the WSRP an important combinatorial optimisation problem to study. Five data sets, obtained from the literature, were normalised and used to investigate the problem. A total of 375 instances were derived from these data sets. Two mathematical models, an integer and a mixed integer, are used. The integer model does not consider the case when the number of employees is not enough to perform all activities. The mixed integer model can leave activities unassigned. A mathematical solver is used to obtain feasible solutions for the instances. The solver provides optimal solutions for small instances, but it cannot provide feasible solutions for medium and large instances. This thesis presents the gradual development of a greedy heuristic that is designed to tackle medium and large instances. Five versions of the greedy heuristic are presented, each of them obtains better results than the previous one. All versions are compared to the results obtained by the mathematical solver when using the mixed integer model. The greedy heuristic exploits domain information to speed the search and discard infeasible solutions. It uses tailored functions to deal with each of the time-dependent activity constraints. These constraints make more difficult the solution process. Further improvements are obtained by using tabu search. It provides moves based on the tailored functions of the greedy heuristic. Overall, the greedy heuristic and the tabu search, maintain feasible solutions at all times. The main contributions of this thesis are: the definition of WSRP; the introduction of 375 instances based on five data sets; the adaptation of two mathematical models; the introduction of a greedy heuristic capable of obtaining better results than the solver; and, the implementation of a tabu search to further improve the results.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Landa Silva, Dario
Qu, Rong
Keywords: Scheduling, Routing, Heuristics, Tabu Search, Employee Scheduling, Workforce Scheduling, Mathematical Programming, IP, MILP
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA 75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Computer Science
Item ID: 30886
Depositing User: Castillo Salazar, Jose
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2016 14:18
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2017 23:33
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/30886

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